Gernot Wagner argues forcefully in But Will the Planet Notice that doing the little things doesn’t count, doesn’t make a damn bit of difference, not when it comes to clean energy and saving the planet from climate change. “The fundamental forces guiding the behavior of billions are much larger than any one of us,” Wagner writes. “It’s about changing our system, creating a new business as usual…. In the end, it comes down to markets, and the rules of the game that govern what we chase and how we chase it.”
If that truly is the case, then join me now in suspending disbelief and loving the 18 vertical-axis wind turbines atop the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s new research tower. By Wagner’s cold logic, they won’t make a perceptible dent in global carbon emissions and therefore are nearly meaningless, save perhaps for some vague inspirational value they might provide. But there they stand, each turbine 18 and a half feet tall, “in three parallel rows … mounted in a specially designed hood that crowns the roof of OMRF’s 130-foot-tall research tower,” spinning away. Watch the men in suits make it happen:
The Venger Wind Model 2 turbines are constructed of aluminum and steel, “making them heavy-duty enough to withstand the Oklahoma elements but light enough to harness the maximum amount of wind power,” OMRF said. They’re expected to produce 85,500 kilowatt-hours of energy annually – about what seven average American homes burn in a year. The tower’s electrical system takes the energy when it’s available, and switches to power from the local utility OG&E when it isn’t.
“That’s not enough for the whole tower to run on wind energy alone, but it’s an investment in the future,” OMRF President Dr. Stephen Prescott said of the turbine output. “By making some of our own energy and using new technology to make the rest of the building energy efficient, we’re cutting our carbon emissions by about 2 million pounds annually and saving the equivalent of 44,000 gallons of gasoline each year.”
Hmm. That’s beginning to sound like it might actually add up to something. Like it might make a difference. Maybe?