Winds of Change: The Environmental Movement and the Global Development of the Wind Energy Industry

By Ion Bogdan Vasi | Go to book overview

Preface and Acknowledgments

This book has two origins. One goes back to the mid-1990s, when I first encountered wind turbines. I was riding a bicycle through northern Germany, on a road that wound through a rural area dotted with large but sleek turbines. I was immediately impressed by their elegance and technological sophistication. Standing right next to a machine that produced electricity for almost a hundred houses, I was able to have a conversation with my guide in a normal voice. There was no air pollution, no radiation, and the fuel was free. Many local residents owned shares in the wind farm and were very proud of the turbines’ presence in their “backyard.” Later I remembered a song by Ella Fitzgerald and I thought, This Could be the Start of Something Big!

The other origin of this book goes back to the second-half of the 1990s, when more and more people—including me—became concerned about global climate change. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and, at the end of the twentieth century, a number of states and local governments were already reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases. My doctoral education at Cornell University exposed me to the most innovative theories about social movements and collective action, and led me to study what I termed the ultimate social dilemma: global climate change. I wrote my dissertation on local actions against global climate change, seeking to understand why some communities were taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint while others were not. During my research, I became more and more interested in renewable energy and, in particular, wind power.

I decided to write a book about wind energy at about the same time I decided to run my first marathon, in 2005. Little did I know that running a marathon and writing a book have so much in common! For example, a certain amount of pain and anxiety is involved in both experiences. While I did not suffer physically when I conducted research and typed the manuscript, I sometimes felt that my writing was painfully slow, and I asked myself frequently, “Will I be able to finish what I’ve started when I want to?” Also, euphoric moments punctuate the monotony of both experiences. Writing a good section thrilled me as much as finishing a good training run. Finally, both experiences are simultaneously solitary and social. The

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