Monday, 5 November 2012

Framing Wind Farms

As I was walking along the fields next to my house, I wished that I had a nice smart phone with a decent camera, because I wanted to show you that the view was spoiled, not by the wind farm in the distance, but by the electricity pylons and the phone mast. This, of course, is a political statement masquerading as a throwaway comment before being exposed as a political statement. It reminded me that I had been meaning to write a blog about wind farms after reading a small thing in Private Eye about how images of wind turbines are manipulated to make farms look more or less appealing. It is an interesting case, for students of politics and public policy, where the wind farm debate is almost-literally ‘framed’ (plug: there is a nice little discussion of framing in Understanding Public Policy). Policy images are linked in an unusually literal way to the images of wind farms. In other words, we are used to a framing debate along these lines:

• Economic arguments – renewable energy is heavily subsidised VERSUS other forms of energy, such as nuclear, have hidden subsidies

• Environmental arguments – renewable is the environmentally friendly option VERSUS wind farms are very far away and the pylon infrastructure is damaging

• Public opinion arguments – wind farms are unpopular VERSUS wind farms are popular (except amongst NIMBYs)

Wind farms kill birds, give you cancer, mess with your head, and so on. The unusual added element is the potential to frame the issue with photos, which is why I wish I had the camera. These images will have to do (my advice is to right click, new tab for the full effect):

Here is the famous Daily Mail doomsday image picked up by Private Eye -

Here is another from the Dail Mail about wind farms spoiling the view from your conservatory (although good luck getting planning permission to build one, eh? Back off Brussels)

This one shows you how nice fields look without them

This one has an eery Children of the Corn look

This one is eery more for the site on which it is housed

This one says, hey let’s have a chat about wind farms next to nice old buildings guys

This one is not scary, but perhaps it would have been framed more positively if taken further away  , like this one

This one says that wind energy is better than nuclear meltdowns, the turbines look cool and space age, and they are off in the ocean somewhere anyway

So does this

This one tells you that China and wind farms are cool

This one tells you that manly men are in charge of offshore wind energy safety

This one shows you that wind farms might look better than ‘water-vapour belching cooling towers’ unless you have been looking at the latter for a generation and are used to them

This one says, look how happy this woman is and her hard hat shows she means business, and it’s good clean business too

This one tells you that you can walk past them without having your limbs lopped off

This site has a mini debate, with someone providing a photo and saying ‘they're truly beautiful’ and someone else countering with ‘Are you shitting me?’,747326,756113

This one does not play by the rules because the story tells you to reject wind energy, but how can it be so bad if this little girl with the balloon is so happy

This is a windmill

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