Harvest the Wind: America's Journey to Jobs, Energy Independence, and Climate Stability

Overview

Winds sweeping through the Great Plains once robbed the Farm Belt of its future, stripping away overworked topsoil and creating the dreaded Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Today, those winds are bringing new hope to the declining rural communities of the central United States. Nowhere is wind’s promise more palpable than in Cloud County, Kansas, where the soaring turbines of the Meridian Way Wind Farm are boosting incomes and bringing green jobs to a ...

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Harvest the Wind: America's Journey to Jobs, Energy Independence, and Climate Stability

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Overview

Winds sweeping through the Great Plains once robbed the Farm Belt of its future, stripping away overworked topsoil and creating the dreaded Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Today, those winds are bringing new hope to the declining rural communities of the central United States. Nowhere is wind’s promise more palpable than in Cloud County, Kansas, where the soaring turbines of the Meridian Way Wind Farm are boosting incomes and bringing green jobs to a community that has, for decades, watched its children drift away.

In Harvest the Wind, Philip Warburg brings readers face-to-face with the people behind the green economy–powered resurgence in Cloud County and communities like it across the United States. This corner of Kansas is the first stop on an odyssey that introduces readers to farmers, factory workers, biologists, and high-tech entrepreneurs—all players in a transformative industry that is taking hold across America and around the globe.
 
In this illuminating book, Warburg reveals both the remarkable growth of a breakthrough technology and the formidable challenges it faces. He visits epicenters of anti-wind opposition as well as communities that have embraced wind farms as neighbors. He guides readers through an Iowa turbine assembly plant that is struggling to compete in a global marketplace dominated by European and Chinese manufacturers. And he looks at the thousands of miles that wind-generated power will need to travel to reach American consumers.
 
Harvest the Wind is an earthly antidote to loftier treatises on global warming and green energy. By showing us how practical solutions are being implemented at the local level, Warburg offers an inspirational look at how we can all pursue a saner and more sustainable energy future—while at the same time investing in the nation’s infrastructure and jumpstarting its economy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Can wind power save us from our reliance on imported fossil fuel? Environmental attorney and activist Warburg believes so. In 2009, he set out to explore the question of how and where America could make wind energy happen, concentrating on the Meridian Way Wind Farm in Cloud County, Kans., where he spoke to landowners who rented out sections of their fields and pastures for turbine placement, educators who reshaped the local community college as a training center for wind energy technicians, and developers who worked with community partners. Today, only 3% of our electricity comes from wind, and there are significant difficulties to overcome: neighboring farms complain about aesthetics and noise; a billion price tag for supplying 20% of our electricity from wind by 2030; and increasingly formidable foreign competitors. Though Warburg’s attitude toward the probability of energy independence is optimistic and his knowledge extensive, his language and presentation is dry and academic enough that—despite the worthiness of his cause—it’s difficult to imagine a commercial audience for this book. Agent: Colleen Mohyde, the Doe Coover Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“The definitive book on wind power.”—U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking member, House Energy and Commerce Committee
 
 “Makes it clear that ... wind is fast becoming a mainstream part of the global energy system.”—Dan Reicher, Science
 
“Warburg’s book looks at communities ... that have seen a resurgence of farming, manufacturing and entrepreneurial spirit due to an upsurge in wind technology.”—Cape Cod Times

“This text will appeal to the idealist and the environmental warrior, providing fuel for wind-power advocates by doing a hefty amount of surface-level research and footwork for them.”—Library Journal

“Warburg’s attitude toward the probability of energy independence is optimistic and his knowledge extensive”—Publisher's Weekly

"Combining graceful prose, analytical rigor, and colorful characters, Harvest the Wind portrays the excitement of a new industry. Much more than just an exploration of the prospects for wind energy, though, Harvest takes us along on the author's journey through the American heartland in search of the nation's soul, and its future.”—Denis Hayes, National Coordinator of the first Earth Day and former director, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

“At a time when America faces growing energy, economic, environmental, and national security uncertainties, we need to tap into our core national heritage of self-reliance to turn challenge into opportunity. With Harvest the Wind, Philip Warburg presents a compelling account of real people doing just that. This is the story about our own Greatest Generation creating the victory gardens of the twenty-first century with clean, renewable energy.”— Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, U.S. Navy (ret.), president and CEO, American Council on Renewable Energy

"Ensuring future energy security requires a revolution in our energy thinking. In revolutions, there are winners and losers, and in the global arena there is no doubt that wind will be one of the winners. Warburg provides a vivid portrait of an industry that is quickly proving itself as a model for international collaboration in reducing our dependence on non-renewable energy sources.”—Professor Katherine Richardson, Chair, Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy

Library Journal
First-time author Warburg (former president, Conservation Law Fdn.) briefly discusses the tumultuous history of wind power in the United States, while focusing on current projects and predicaments in wind energy, as well as some future possibilities. Warburg traveled to the Midwest to seek out current functioning wind farms. In his exploration of wind power, he also visited the Denmark wind turbine manufacturer Vestas and went to China. As the subtitle suggests, the book offers hope for the future of wind energy. Warburg writes about possible employment opportunities and the industry's power to revive depressed areas like the American Rust Belt or unused farmland. In his optimistic look toward the future, he is also grounded in his knowledge of the failures of the past and potential hazards of the present. VERDICT This text will appeal to the idealist and the environmental warrior, providing fuel for wind-power advocates by doing a hefty amount of surface-level research and footwork for them.—Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, Oregon Inst. of Technology, Portland
Kirkus Reviews
Warburg believes that that collaboration between the government and the private sector can make wind power a major source of energy for the generation of power in the United States. An attorney specializing in environmental law who served as president of the Conservation Law Foundation from 2003 to 2009, the author has been a committed environmentalist for more than 40 years. Warburg makes the case that with this "inexhaustible domestic energy resource," America can finally demonstrate a willingness to lead the international fight for climate stability. He reports on recent travels through the U.S. and in Denmark. where he met with "farmers, ranchers, shop owners, truckers, crane operators and more," whose lives have been improved by the new technology. He also visited large and small-scale wind farms, on land and offshore. While Warburg admits that wind power still presents serious problems for the environment--the turbines are responsible for the death of thousands of birds, the noise they produce can disturb neighboring residential communities, etc.--he is optimistic that these will be resolved and that the benefits of the new technology exceed the costs. At present, Danish investors are the leaders in turbine production. They outsource assembly production to China and the U.S., which rank first and second respectively in annual installations. The author writes that while American companies are only beginning to compete, they recognize that this is "the next big strategic bet." Citing a 2011 government report, Warburg estimates that Kansas alone could supply 90 percent of the nation's present power consumption with the installation of a sufficient number wind turbines. In 2010, seven percent of the state's energy needs have been met by wind power, providing up to $50,000 annually to farmers. Although Warburg summarily dismisses the potential of solar energy as a major part of the clean-energy mix, his arguments about wind power are balanced and informative.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807000496
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 4/23/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,394,531
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Warburg was president of the Conservation Law Foundation, New England’s leading environmental advocacy group, from 2003 to 2009. Earlier, he ran the Israel Union for Environmental Defense in Tel Aviv and was an attorney at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. He has also worked with governments and citizen groups on anti-pollution initiatives in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and across Eastern Europe.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii

Chapter 1 Cloud County Revival 1

Chapter 2 Early Adopters 19

Chapter 3 Rust Belt Renewables 39

Chapter 4 The Chinese Are Coming 59

Chapter 5 Working the Wind 74

Chapter 6 The Path to Cleaner Energy 96

Chapter 7 Birds and Bats 116

Chapter 8 The Neighbors 134

Chapter 9 Greening the Grid 161

Epilogue 180

Tables 185

Acknowledgments 190

Notes 197

Selected Bibliography 218

Index 232

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