I recall reading a book, Cape Wind by Robert Whitcomb, during one of our previous visits to the Cape. A consortium was proposing to build a wind farm out on Nantucket Sound, maybe 10 or 12 miles offshore. It would have produced almost enough electricity to replace the oil-and-natural-gas-burning facility in Sandwich.
However, the Cape Wind project ran into a lot of opposition. It would interfere with boating traffic; it would endanger migrating birds. But most of all it would spoil the view of waterfront property owners in and around Hyannisport.
One opponent of Cape Wind was Sen. Ted Kennedy, who of course had a family compound in Hyannisport, and counted among his friends many landowners along the coast of Nantucket Sound.
Senator Kennedy eventually met his maker. But the Cape Wind project has not. While there is still no sign of a windmill in Nantucket Sound, apparently plans are still going forward for a wind farm sometime in the future.
Meanwhile, I counted at least a dozen windmills just in my corner of Cape Cod, and there are many more dotting the landscape. So good for the Cape Codders who are progressing along the lines of clean energy, energy independence, and intelligent use of natural resources.
But of course, it's never so simple. Just take a look at the end-of-summer bonfire held every year at Nauset Beach (see the post below). It's a spectacular sight and lot of fun for the kids. But watching all that smoke from the fire I wondered if this alone could cause global warming.
According to a Yahoo news item, reporting on a march in New York City last weekend protesting climate change, global greenhouse gas rose 2.9% in 2013 -- and according to the New York Times, global emissions rose 2.3% to record levels.
I also noticed a conflicted attitude toward automobiles on the Cape. I saw many a Toyota Prius (50 mpg) and Honda Insight (40+ mpg) on the streets of Falmouth, along with other smaller cars that probably get 30 mpg. But there were also plenty of Jeeps (20 mpg), Chevy Tahoes (18 mpg), and Ford Expeditions (16 mpg).
In other words, a lot of Cape Codders choose to ignore any warnings about air pollution or global warming, and seem unconcerned that we import a lot of our gasoline from the war-torn Middle East, where more than 4500 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq alone. (Do you really believe we'd be sending troop to the Middle East if there was no oil there?)
I figure, if you drive an SUV, you're kind of a libertarian Republican like Rand Paul, who believes that people should be able to do what they want, without any restrictions on their freedom, despite any consequences to others, and as long as they can afford it.
But as I found out on the highway on the way home, everybody from libertarians to socialists agrees on one thing. They want to go 70 mph, not 55 mph, and they don't care that it burns up more gas that way. A typical car engine is most efficient at around 50 or 55 mph. If you get 30 mpg at 55 mph, you will be getting about 25 mpg at 70 mph.
I know, I know, you're in a hurry. And gas in not that expensive. And what difference does one car make? But according to mpg for speed, if the national speed limit were set to 55 (as it was in the 1970s) it would save 1 billion gallons of oil per year.
Now I'm beginning to sound holier than thou . . . and probably unrealistic. I'm like everybody else. I don't want to live near a nuclear power plant; I don't want anyone to be fracking in my backyard. I don't want them drilling for oil in the Arctic, and I don't want American troops fighting for oil in the Middle East. But I also want to be able to drive wherever I want, whenever I want . . . and not have to pay too much for gasoline.
It's a complicated process. Convenience often wins out over conscience. But as illustrated by Cape Cod, we keep trying.