Showing posts with label wind turbines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wind turbines. Show all posts

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Wind turbines have raped West Texas and the Great Plains: I hate the goddamn things

  John Prine wrote a lovely song called Paradise, a tribute to the landscape of his childhood, located "down by the Green River, where Paradise lay."

But that landscape was destroyed by strip mining, as Prine's lyrics attest. "I'm sorry my son, you're too late in asking; Mr. Peabody's coal trains have hauled it away."

Progressive Americans hate coal as they hate all fossil fuels. They lament the damage that was done by strip mining.

Let's stop drilling for oil and gas, they say. Let's stop mining for coal. Let's switch to renewable energy: solar power and wind power.

And the nation is going in that direction, faster than most Americans realize.  Enormous wind turbines are being erected on the Great Plains, turbines so large than an 18-wheeler can only transport one turbine blade at a time.

Year by year, wind power supplies a larger percentage of the nation's energy demands. But you have to drive over the High Plains to grasp the scope of the transformation.

Drive along Highway 84 across the Llano Estacado or motor up Highway 281 in western Oklahoma. Wind turbines by the thousands blight the landscape.

If you live in Boston, you may say that is all to the good. Sure, wind turbines destroy the grandeur of the prairie country, the majestic vistas of West Texas. But who cares?

After all, the nation's truly beautiful scenery only exists on America's East and West Coasts and in blue-state Colorado.  Nobody lives in West Texas, and those who do are elderly white people with non-progressive values who need to be ground down for the greater good.

But I disagree. The vast, lonely panoramas of the trans-Brazos country, the undulating hills of the Oklahoma short grass country are beautiful--as beautiful as the Rockies or the seascapes of California. This country once sustained the Kiowa, the Comanche, and the Cheyenne, who lived off the buffalo that grazed these lands in the millions.

If our national policy is to pollute our natural environment with wind turbines, I say let's share the pain. I will reconcile myself to wind turbines in West Texas when I can see them off the beaches of Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and the Hamptons.

Monday, January 17, 2022

"A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground": I return to Anadarko

 I grew up in Anadarko, a small town settled near the banks of the Washita River in southwestern Oklahoma's Caddo County.

Anadarko was a thriving community when I was a child. Family shops lined Broadway, the town's main street. Farmers and their families came to town on Saturdays to do their weekly shopping, and elderly Plains Indians gathered on the sidewalks, talking to one another in Kiowa and Comanche.

Our town boasted a fine Victorian courthouse, as elegant as any county courthouse in Texas. The town square had a bandstand and a statue honoring the Caddo County boys who died in the Great World War.

And what a statue! A life-size bronze figure of a doughboy stood on a granite pedestal, where the names of all the dead were listed. The soldier wore a campaign hat and a uniform with puttees. In one hand, he held the staff an American flag. In the other, he clutched the barrel of his Springfield rifle. 

Facing the courthouse square stood the First Methodist Church, erected in 1917 in the Greek Revival Style. A Tudor-style Presbyterian church and the First Baptist Church also faced the square. All these churches were full when I was a child.

I returned to Anadarko a few days ago, and the town of my boyhood is gone. The county bureaucrats tore down the Victorian courthouse in the 1950s and replaced it with a concrete structure built in the mid-century modern style--which, of course, is no style at all.

The Presbyterian church still stands but is closed-- not enough Presbyterians to pay the light bill. The Methodist church can't afford its own preacher anymore and shares a minister with a nearby town. The Baptist church stands abandoned, although a new church was erected at the edge of town.

The bandstand is gone, and so is the bronze doughboy. All the local businesses are closed, wiped out by Walmart, which sells everything a rural Oklahoman could ever need.

Anadarko’s losses are sad, but the new town is sadder still.

I drove by the home my father built with his own hands in 1953. It is empty now and looked abandoned, just one of a few hundred abandoned houses in the town.

Anadarko had two movie houses when I was a kid, as well as a drive-in movie theater. They are all gone—killed off by television.

Of course, there are new things for the townspeople to do. The Plains Tribes are now in the gambling business, and the citizens of Anadarko can gamble with the Kiowa, the Comanche, the Fort Sill Apache, or the Wichita. Most casinos are open until 2 AM if they can’t sleep and want to play the slots.

When I was a kid, a person could be sent to state prison for possessing a single marijuana joint. But times have changed. 

Now there’s a medical marijuana dispensary on Anadarko's Main Street. Of course, you have to have a medical prescription, but I don’t imagine it is difficult to find an accommodating doctor.

And my hometown's marijuana might have been grown locally. Oklahoma has hundreds of licensed marijuana-growing sites, and ten are near Anadarko.

Perhaps these marijuana greenhouses brought new jobs to Anadarko, which would be good. But no, growers bring in workers from outside.  Someone told me that some of the guys who grow marijuana in Caddo County are Chinese.

But at least the landscape of my childhood is still lovely—the stunning Oklahoma sunsets, the red-dirt hills, and the timeless vistas of the Great Plains.

But again, no. Corporate America has built hundreds of wind turbines in Caddo County—scarring the landscape I once believed could never be changed. 

Anadarko—abandoned homes, closed businesses, a marijuana dispensary, and nearby gambling dens. No wonder many of the people I saw looked clinically depressed. The town has a high suicide rate—primarily young people.

As I stood in the courthouse square, I saw an empty lot where someone had painted a mural on the side of a building—a mural that proclaimed this cryptic message: 

A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.

I do not know if the hearts of Anadarko’s women are on the ground. But if they are not, the town has some goddamned strong women.