It is easy to walk around the German countryside and imagine oneself back a century or two.
While one can expect change in a country over a quarter of a century, some of what has happened is at odds with itself.
In many parts of the country nothing appears to have changed. The same country lanes, forests, fields and age old buildings that have stood for centuries.
Yet in my travels across varying regions of Germany one recent addition stands out like the proverbial sore thumb.
The wind turbine.
It seems that everywhere there is a small rise in the land – a hill, ridge, mountain side – there is a wind turbine.
In some areas there are so many it is difficult to count them.
At first I wasn’t sure what to think.
The turbines are oddly sculptural and there is a certain aesthetic to them when viewed in the right light. The gentle and concerted movement of the many blades first struck me as meditative and somewhat mesmerising.
But they are completely out of context with their surroundings, and they make a decent racket when cutting through the wind.
Having lived with these constructions for a month I’m convinced they’re ugly and a blight on the landscape.
I’d be surprised if the (generally) environmentally aware Germans would have easily allowed the infestation of these things without some significant protest.
The turbines must have crept up in a slow but steady manner to catch the population off guard. Or there must have been some very good arguments by the government to convince people to let the landscape be changed in this way.
I guess with many Germans being anti-nuclear it is easy to see the government being able to present wind energy in a positive and less threatening light.
But if this is supposed to be environmentally friendly and green technology then I’m personally wondering if the material for construction, industrial energy and manpower needed to make and install these things has been calculated into the carbon/energy foot print.
What about the visual pollution? I assume it doesn’t count if it can’t be measured?
I’m truly glad that New Zealand has an anti-nuclear policy, but I hope that the government will have a close look at the German countryside before adopting a widespread distribution of these ugly machines. Perhaps there are better alternatives.
Otherwise New Zealand’s search for renewable energy might lead to a wholesale destruction of significant parts of the New Zealand environment.[photospace]