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The answer, my friend, is …

Sorry for the predictable headline. I get punchy out there walking. But the ¬†point is…

Before I lay on my back beneath the blades of this turbine spinning in the wind, I had spoken with an 87-year-old writer and rancher named Delbert Trew, who works land 30 miles to the east. Our conversation took me back, as Delbert described windmills in the 1930s with 6-volt chargers that brought electricity to the plains. Said Delbert, "If the wind blowed, we got to listen to the radio that night." But a decade later rural power lines meant windmills were again mostly just drawing water from beneath the ground, if even that, and the Texas panhandle, too, progressed on coal and gas burned in distant power plants. Now we know that consuming so much carbon comes at a toll, and with the wind still blowing, things are beginning to come full circle. This time, though, the turbines stand 80 meters high, equivalent to a 24-story building, to catch the best breeze. After a long day of walking, I thought about pitching my tent beneath the blades. But the whomp, whomp, whomp felt too primal for such proximity, and what if a bolt broke loose? A wind energy expert had explained to me that in the panhandle the wind often blows fiercest 80 meters off the ground at 2 or 3 in the morning. So as I slept in a cotton field safely between two turbines I woke to hear the whomp echoing in the night. I looked from my tent to see red lights on hundreds of other turbines blinking into the distance, like buoyed boats at anchor on the sea. But a full moon also lit the sky, recalling a moment 12 hours before when I'd watched Sandhill cranes migrate north. They floated a half-mile or more above the turbines, beating wings and shifting course on the currents. The cranes are a prehistoric species, similar in many ways to fossils of ancestors millions of years old. Now here we are down on the ground trying to capture those currents to move us forward. Not so different from the cranes, up there riding the wind, like they always do. #travel #journalism #wind #energy #texas #plains #coal #gas #instaessay #unh808

A post shared by Tom Haines (@twhaines) on

 

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