Jon Boone: Quotes

I delivered this quote nearly nine years ago as the coda to a speech, The Wayward Wind, given to a large audience in Wyoming County, New York. See the end of page 9. This speech later appeared in many publications.

I developed this idea further a few years later in my paper, Overblown, this time quoting Marcello Truzzi from whom Sagan actually borrowed the remark. See pages 15-19. In Overblown, I detailed the evidence for indicting wind as the dumbest idea imaginable for generating modern electricity power, largely because the only way it can do so is with the accompaniment of fossil fired prosthetics, all operating inefficiently to do so.

Overblown was followed by my paper Oxymoronic Wind–the third in a trilogy of reports about the dimwittery of wind (the first was on wind and the Sierra Club; the second, Overblown). Here’s how I concluded Oxymoronic Wind:

This litany of wind howlers is a tale about the wholesale dumbing down—the juvenilization— of our culture at virtually every level: mainstream media, including the blogosphere; energy economists; the regulatory environment; the political scene at many local, virtually every state, indeed, the entire national governmental strata; and, not least, the multinational corporate sector, not forgetting international environmental organizations. In the final analysis, windspeak is little more than childish prattle, much like the justifications roguish children use to justify vicious behavior in an unsupervised romper room—often the smartest kids in that room.

As the old song lyric goes, “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you—if youʼre young at heart.” Or have the innocent gullibility of a four year old.

Where is the adult supervision? Where is the statesmanship that insists upon putting childish ways behind?
As a partial answer, consider this passage from Dwight D. Eisenhowerʼs Farewell address 50 years ago, which now seems even more clairvoyant than his warning about the military/industrial complex:

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nationʼs scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

“Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific- technological elite.
“It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”
The juggernaut for the dumb and dim of wind—a defective technology resurrected to sell tax shelters, made in China and assembled by temporary teams of international workers, justified by American and European “scientists,” engineers, gadgeteers, and an assortment of political wonks from both Republicans and Democrats spawned via federal grants to major universities (Stanford/MIT)—is the very apotheosis of Ikeʼs concern. And itʼs all done, much like the derivativeʼs trading schemes in housing and banking, to sell subprime energy–at the publicʼs expense.

Instead of the statesmanship Ike had called for to quell such dystopean energy policy, we get VIPed by windspeak.

For my background, see the homepage of StopIllWind.

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