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Shrinking America

PES looks at how seaways and rail networks are helping to speed up the continent’s bid for a more ecologically-sound future, based around wind farm technology. Picture the scene: you’re driving along a narrow road in small town America. It’s a like a scene from a Wim Wenders movie with maybe just a dash of the Coen Brothers thrown in for good measure. You’re enjoying the ride, the scenery is superb and your favorite Bruce Springsteen track – Born in the USA (what else?) – blares from your state-of-the-art stereo system.


Suddenly the scene is transformed. A massive truck carrying silver blades nearly half a football field long approaches you menacingly, the sun blinding you as it reflects back from its huge chromium fender. Eyesight momentarily restored, you remark in a thrice that there is barely room for you to pass and so you swerve dangerously over to the side of the highway and hope for the best as this 21st century behemoth passes.

Previously a convinced covert to the ecological soundness of wind power, you now begin to have second thoughts. “If the cost of these wind farms is that we have to have massive, threatening trucks screaming about the country, burning unacceptable amounts of fuel and polluting the atmosphere, just to transport a few windmill blades, I think I’ll stick with traditional gas and electricity,” you opine later, to your partner over a tea-time muffin and coffee.

And there’s the problem in a nutshell: In order to convince the mass of the US population of the ecological soundness of wind as an alternative power, the propaganda battle for the people’s hearts and minds needs first to be won and sending hundreds of massive trucks about the highways and byways of the US would not appear to be a terribly sensible move. In fact, it’s a PR disaster. In Minnesota in 2008, for instance, a truck carrying a tubular tower section became stuck at a railroad crossing and a train managed to stop just in time. Also in Min, a woman was killed in September 2008 when a car, driven by her husband, collided at an intersection with a truck carrying a wind turbine. After a full police investigation, officials exonerated the truck driver.

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