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Wind Power and Society February 28, 2009

Posted by sdavis20 in Science & society.

Hey everybody,

I’m sure you all remember most of the factual information from my presentation so rather than recap those I would like to take this opportunity to really get into the reasons behind the differences in European and American attitudes towards wind power, but first I’d like to begin with the best wind power ad ever.

I posted this ad mostly because its just awesome and funny but also because it somewhat alludes to a difference in international opinion regarding wind power in the US and Europe. In Europe wind power may not be viewed as as being more useful necessarily but rather as more of a necessity given the issue of global warming. For example, in clear and direct contrast to the United States the populations of nations like Denmark hold it as their national responsibility to do everything in their power to create and use only clean energy. There are several different reasons for this but one I would argue is the direct impact from global warming which is felt more by Europeans than Americans. For instance if this picture from the Netherlands was a very real possibility of what your town would look like in the near future given rising water levels you would be more likely to feel like you had a personal stake in the well being of the environment.

Town under water

Town under water

That sense of urgency, coupled with a very distinct difference in social and political philosophies between America and Europe are the root causes for the extreme gap in clean energy production. Europe as a whole I would classify as having a largely collectivist philosophy, with nearly every country having some policies which we Americans would classify as socialst I feel that this is a fair claim to make. The collectivist philosophy that is very prevalent in European society, with the majority of European nations employing some amount of socialist ideals and principles in their national policies and decision making stands in stark contrast to the US. The US, which was founded entirely on individualistic principles, as can be seen when looking at the documents from our nations founding like the bill of rights, set up a society whose focus is the promotion of individual rights as well as protecting the individual from society as a whole. This focus on individual rights has created a social and political culture that has a very narrow focus on just the individual and national world with little to no regard for anything that happens outside its tiny sphere that has no direct influence on its world. Unfortunately the issue of global warming has remained outside the American national sphere as there have been very few direct imapacts from global warming on daily American life that can be understood by the average citizen. This fact has hindered any sense of urgency that American scientists have tried to give the issue.

In conclusion it is my opinion that America will never be at the forefront of scientific issues like global warming as long as the national focus of the government and its people are on economics and social issues within its own national sphere and not on global issues instead.

Informational Links:

Study on Danish wind power

Case study on rising Dutch sea levels

Environmental Policies of the European Union

Wiki on individualism

Wiki on collectivism

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