Rage, rage against the lying of the lights.

Apologies to Dylan Thomas fans for the title.

Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That? fame is on a speaking tour of these parts, and is blogging along the way. Wednesday saw him in Newcastle which, being a coal town, is the New South Wales version of, well, Newcastle. One recent blog entry (and do please go and read the whole thing) relates the amusing sight of a power wasting wind turbine.

We were a bit late getting there due to airplane scheduling snafus, and as we rushed from the airport at 6:15 pm we passed the coal loading terminal at Newcastle. There, as if there was some madcap attempt at sustainability, was one of those huge wind turbines like I’ve seen on the US plains. I attempted to get a photo, but my camera misfired with bad focus due to the car window, and I missed the shot.

The next morning, on the way to the airport again at 6AM, the windmill was still there, just like it was before. My driver (Anthony#2 of Team Anthony) gladly pulled over to allow me to get this shot as dawn crept in. I was incredulous that the shot hadn’t changed.

Ummm. I thought windmills were all about generating electricity, not using it. So why put torches on it that run all night? Want to bet the lighting power is coming from coal? While the turbine probably generates more power than it uses most nights, it sure seems odd.

Of course, maybe the people that run it really didn’t want a wind turbine in their coal town, and this torch lighting is their form of silent protest. Or, maybe they are proud of it and felt it needed to be illuminated all hours of the night. Maybe the lights are to warn off birds and small planes. Nobody seemed to know. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t help but be amused.

It would have been a lot funnier if they’d set up a giant fan to blow directly at it so that it could generate power all the time, but I feel there’s another aspect to this. Obviously tall structures need lights and night as a warning for low flying aircraft, but does the way that turbine is lit remind you of anything at all?

Left, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.   Right, Washington Monument, DC
St Peter’s Basilica, Rome
Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
The Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem 
Buddha, Wat Tum Sua, Thailand

I could go on, but my point is that objects that are lit up at night like that are frequently things that the viewer is expected to view with respect, veneration, or even adoration driven by religious fervour. Not exclusively so, but fairly often.

Now look again at the photo Anthony Watts took of the wind turbine.


I suspect that at the very least it’s lit that way to show how right-on and green they are round there despite all that coal, for verily it is the thought that counteth most when it comes down to it. A kind of a proud statement that they believe in the evils of warble gloaming and the redemption to be found in (al)mighty renewable power sources, just like others light up cathedrals and temples and statues. At worst – and here I reach for the tinfoil headgear – it’s a mind game, an exercise in lighting up this white elephant in such a way as to suggest that viewers look on it that way, and maybe even buy a small one to stick on the roof in the same way a born again Christian might nail a fish to his car.

Whatever they had in mind I’m not joining their modern religion until they make a decent case for it, and they’re not making any headway in that while they keep up this sort of hypocrisy, and stupid hypocrisy at that. I’m sure I don’t need to explain exactly where they can shove this wind turbine, but leaving the lights on might be handy due to a distinct lack of sunshine there.


Posted on June 19, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Rage, rage against the lying of the lights..

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