There was an item in the news today about plans to develop offshore windfarms in Scotland, with the potential that they could appear all round the coasts. There was a time when coal-fired domestic heating, railways, power stations and factories produced visible smog across built up areas like the Central Belt, and left buildings stained a dirty grey/ black colour. We switched to coke then gas for most heating, and petrol and diesel cars and buses became the dominant means of transport in many areas. We couldn’t see the fumes, and they didn’t have the same impact on the appearance of buildings, so everything seemed fine. In fact the fumes were in the air affecting our health and affecting the climate. Now we are planning to aim for a carbon neutral economy – which means increased supplies of renewable energy to heat our homes and offices (plus all the appliances we didn’t have 20, 50 or 100 years ago), and to operate our transport systems. The switch should give us cleaner air to breathe, but there will be a visible impact on the landscape from windfarms. Will we see people accepting wind turbines becoming a regular feature in the landscape, a price we have to pay if we want clean air, all the things like cars, computers and washing machines that we regard as ‘essential’ to modern life, and take steps to address the climate crisis; or will they complain that they are ruining the view?
Lord, there are so many times in life when we have to make trade-offs, because we can’t have everything, and some of our wishes directly conflict with each other. Making those trade-offs can be hard, and what is acceptable to one person is not acceptable to another. Help us to be ready to think through what we want, to accept that some of our wishes conflict with each other, and to engage in public debate. Help those responsible for making and implementing public policies to cope with trying to ‘square the circle’ of aspirations and needs