13 September, 2008

Preserve the Ruahines

I've been thinking a bit how to frame this post. I wanted it to be moving, important and awash with pithy images that would make my readers swarm over to sign the petition to preserve the Ruahines mountains in New Zealand from the onslaught of what promises to be a great many monster-sized wind turbines. I'm not sure I'm up to that though, so I'll settle for showing you a few beautiful pictures of a place very dear to Robb Kloss's heart, a place where he has found solace, a spiritual home, and a place to introduce his young sons to the joys of outdoor life and mountain air. Reading his blog, Musings from Aotearoa, I and a growing number of readers have seen just how much he cherishes this part of the natural world, so much so that he has chosen these mountains to live beside, rather than his birthplace in America.

It's a big step to change countries. As any immigrant can tell you it takes years to feel at home in the new skin that you grow when you change cultures. For some of us it never happens, we can only reach some place of partial acceptance; while we may appreciate many things about the new place, including the opportunity to earn a living there, we will never feel quite as comfortable as we might. That's not always a bad thing of course because there's more to learn with a little less comfort. It's a motivator.

Still, finding comfort and sustenance in a place is more than speaking the language, learning the customs or eating the food. When it means finding a place where the country wraps around you like a green dream, where you find free-moving animals, birds and insects, where the air flows unimpeded and the water is still fresh and free, we take notice. We feel the sense of rightness and home. And we feel protective of that, in a world where such spaces are becoming rarer every day.

Not taking notice of how precious these spaces are has become a modern disease. Propping up development willy-nilly in the name of creating jobs has become a bad habit. We need to open our eyes and take care what we are doing. Sure we need alternative energy. But we also need to create good plans for deploying it in places which are not wild, where we will not further push back the green frontiers.

Just look. Do we really want towering wind turbines in this landscape?

Please join with me in signing Robb's petition to preserve the Ruahines.

All pictures courtesy of Robb Kloss.


  1. ahotvaxKia ora VJ,
    I have no words to express my gratitude and aroha for your words and support except thank you.
    I don't know what will become of all this VJ, but at least I can hold my head up when I am the Ruahines.
    You are awesome and this post means the world to me.

  2. Robb:

    You can indeed hold up your head.

    If there is any justice, then love will prevail. Gambatte, my friend.

  3. What a classic case of NIMBYism you and Robb Kloss represent - people who can see no further than the ends of their selfish noses, and who can see no greater needs than their own.
    Wake up, and try to see the fate of others, less self-absorbed, and of the wider world, where the use of alternative sources of power must be implemented.
    Boo-hoo, Robb Kloss likes to walk in the hills and you and he don't like turbines. Can you possibly think of any other reason why development of essential resources should not take place?

  4. okay, I'll bite, ANONYMOUS, though if you want to be taken seriously, I suggest you sign your comment.

    It's called oxygen. It's called space for wild animals and creatures other than humans, who I believe are selfish to be taking over the planet completely. It's also in the name of halting global warming, which soon is going to create more huge storms and destruction that affects us all, if we don't stop destroying forest.

    And I never said I was against wind power. Nor did Robb. What I said was to use sense in locating it in places which are not wild, where we don't have to destroy wilderness.

    Maybe civic-minded citizens like you will volunteer space on the top of your houses, or your back yards? Don't be selfish now.

  5. Kia ora VJ,
    To no name.
    If I only saw to the end of my nose I would not be speaking out as I am. You know what mate, bugger the fate of others like you, I will fight for the earth. People like you and your view of what is important have had their day. As VJ wrote, had you taken the time to read what it is actually about, it is not about being against wind power. Look around what your kind has done, to the earth, to the people who live on it. Your precious system is crumbling buddy. Time to think a little different. Maybe you should try walking in the hills once instead of on cement.
    Cheers VJ, thanks for the support, and sorry about the rant.

  6. Some of your reasons puzzle me. How do turbines damage oxygen levels, or even space for wildlife? Wind turbines are meant to reduce global warming. Perhaps you don't understand the term NIMBY?
    Interesting that you consider me civic minded. We are part of a farming community who do exactly what you suggest. We now generate enough power from alternative sources to be able to sell some back to an electric company.

  7. Glad to hear that, anonymous. It's what I was implying, that wind turbines should be situated in land that was already settled somehow. I think that the use of your land is very positive and I commend you for it.

    What I am worried about in the case of putting the large windmills in wild spaces, is the disruption to protected areas. They have to build roads to get them in there, and erect them with heavy equipment, and then service them, and the windmills themseves kill birds and probably, if there are enough of them, disrupt local weather patterns. They certainly replace trees in the sites around them, and worse they set a precedent for using protected wilderness commercially. I think it's just a short step from that to further development, once the protective laws have been diluted.

    In this case, too, the local government is trying to amend the protective laws in one month, not even providing time for people to express their concerns, discuss the measures, and it would seem, no time for an environmental impact study either. As Frances Moore Lappe would say, a case of "thin democracy".

    I'm certainly not against wind power and I support it and other green solutions when they are located in areas that are already developed.

    The civic-minded back-yard comment was ironic and maybe unwarranted considering what you've said about your set-up. I apologize.

  8. Robb:

    I think anonymous's second comment clarifies his/her position a bit and I am going to give him/her the benefit of the doubt, since he/she "put his/her money where his/her mouth is".

    Note all the pronoun pairs. No wonder I ask people to sign their comments. Even an alias helps. :)

    Hope you're expressing yourself as well to the powers that be. Give 'em 'ell! :)

  9. Kia ora VJ,
    Fair enough, though I don't like the parts about calling people cry babies and what not. As far as NIMBY, I am sitting on my porch with my morning coffee watching any number of turbines in the short distance. Are my power bills any less expensive? No, yesterday one of the power companies involved announced a 10% price increase, not surprisingly after a wind farm in the Tararua's was rejected by the local council. "We have an obligation to our share holders" was part of the response from Meridian. Solar generation made available to the masses just is not on the cards, and I have talked to many in the industry. Yet green house carbon tax credit producing wind farms are. The power companies have us hood winked. Last year wind generation supplied less than 2% of NZ power generation, yet we have over 40 huge turbine projects in place, and the battle being fought for many more. I am not against wind generation as part of the solution to a better way Anon, but not just as mindless greed to generate share holder profit for off shore power companies. Otherwise there will be no mountains , rivers, or wild places left at all, and if you cannot understand the need for such places, too bad.
    Kia ora VJ,

  10. I'll leave the last good words to you, Robb! Again, Gambatte!