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Classical Notes

Tilting at Windmills

Posted at 1:19 PM on January 13, 2007 by Alison Young

We've all been hearing about the dire consequences of our rapidly depleting energy sources, green-house emissions and global warming. Leave it to an arts organization to be in the forefront of reducing their impact on planet earth by generating their own energy. The Glyndebourne Opera Festival in Sussex, England, on the grounds of a 700-year-old manor house, has recently submitted an application for a 230-foot, 850 kilowatt turbine to provide the power for their lights, heat and air-conditioning, hydraulic lifts, sewing machines, washer and dryers, hair-dryers, faxes and copiers, you name it – all the stuff that makes an opera happen.

Although assessments still need to be made on the archaeological and ecological impact, the turbine has gotten the green light from naturalist David Attenborough as well as a majority of the locals. Most interesting to me is in this naturally beautiful setting, the attitude seems to be one of excitement over this piece of machinery. Interest is less about whether the pristine view will be obstructed, and more that the windmill will become a symbol, a sort of physical reminder that solutions must be found to our energy needs before we either burn everything up or burn up the planet.

I wonder what it will take for us Americans to stop squabbling and put up these relatively cheap alternative energy generators in places that may be picturesque but still need energy sources. If a not-for-profit arts organization can do it, why not the rest of us?