Saturday, October 24, 2009
Sustainable transport, and wind turbines for Jesus
Not a hybrid, but a thoroughbred?
Actually, this horse is most likely a standardbred, a variant on the thoroughbred line used by the Amish for buggy horses.
This sight caused students a little consternation on Thursday. One of our local Amish had decided to use the college library on a rainy day, which happens a lot, the college library being also the public library for the five surrounding Maine towns. But usually the Amish come up on their bicycles, not in their buggies.
They come to do research, usually, for some business purpose. But sometimes they come just to read books.
The Amish generally are in favor of books and learning. But they don't take it too far. Amish school goes only through the eighth grade, after which young men are apprenticed to an Amish journeyman in one or the other trade, and young women help their in the home, although not necessarily their own family home. They too may be apprenticed out to another Amish home. We would think of this as domestic servitude. They see it as loving service.
The leading book in any Amish house is of course the Bible, specifically the New Testament, from where they get their philosophy, living life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as revealed, primarily, in the four gospels and the letters of Paul.
It's the prioritizing of the Gospel of Mathew and its Beatitudes that give the Amish philosophy its particular emphasis on peace, as compared with more "muscular" Christianities.
That's the main book that must be read.
But technical manuals are also valued, especially if they are useful. Any book that gives details of farm operations, carpentry, the building of wind turbines, and so on.
That's right. One of our local Amishmen has a business with his son that makes wind turbines. Quite good ones. His turbines don't make electricity. They compress air for power tools, or pump water. But they are quite large, with about a twelve foot diameter blade-span, and lattice towers of seventy-five or a hundred feet. And they are probably noisier than electrical generation turbines of the same size.
Air compression is a particularly noisy operation, whether you do it with a gas or diesel motor, or a 110 V electrical supply, or a wind turbine.
He and I visit regularly, and I keep him updated on the latest developments in the local wind power ordinance battles, in which many of his neighbors are attempting to make his products illegal.
What does he think of this? I've asked him. He is bemused. He doesn't quite understand why, when God has given us a resource to use, we would not wish to use it. To him, the large GE turbines on Beaver Ridge seem quite practical, considering we English must have our electricity. And he is quite fond of electricity, in so much as he is allowed to use it. Even if he is not allowed to use electricity in his home, he values it highly, and uses it in a sparing or controlled way in his shop: taking the power from a small wind turbine and some solar panels to charge a set of batteries used for welding, and the power from a 220 volt generator to run a milling machine which can't be run any other way.
If it was allowed, subject to the ordnung of the church meeting, to have more electricity, he would. But it's not allowed, so it's a moot point.
And in general, the weird obsessions of the "English," as regular Americans are called, are not really his business, and he certainly is not likely to get up in town meeting to try to say anything about it.
Obviously, there's a lot of irony in this situation: An Amishman and a Quaker in the wind energy profession, find themselves on the same side, very roughly speaking, as corporate capitalists and hired engineers, today in Waldo County.
I say very roughly speaking. Intelligent restraint is rarely a bad thing. I think if we allowed the corporations to do what they wanted to do in Waldo County, we would be giving up our scenic vistas and amenities for no or very little return, and probably a number of residences would be made much less livable by the noise that would be made by the dozens of turbines the companies would install.
But if we allow the activists to write the regulations, we won't get any benefits, and particularly we won't get the right to have our own Town-owned turbines.
And even Amish turbines, in some of the ordinances (like Jackson's), will be made illegal.
Which I find sad.