cover image Who Owns the Wind? Climate Crisis and the Hope of Renewable Energy

Who Owns the Wind? Climate Crisis and the Hope of Renewable Energy

David McDermott Hughes. Verso, $24.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-83976-113-3

Anthropologist Hughes (Energy Without a Conscience) investigates the history, politics, and culture of wind turbines in this eye-opening survey. He situates his study in a small village in Andalusia, Spain, where, in 2006, the locals protested a plan to install wind turbines nearby, claiming the project would destroy the aesthetics of their village and demanding they be compensated with “jobs, income, or both.” The protest wasn’t successful, raising questions for the author about the conflict between social justice, the privatization of natural resources, and ways of addressing climate change. Hughes argues that in order to achieve a sustainable world free of fossil fuels, people must find a compromise that doesn’t just enrich corporations and landowners, and proposes that people can learn to love wind turbines: citizens, he writes, could own the energy they produce, and windmills could be designed with an eye for beauty and an appreciation of the land. At times, the analysis strays into explorations of literary works such as that of Cervantes, who called windmills “the most monstrous objects on the landscape,” making for a fascinating if digressive account. Eloquent and incisive, this is an important contribution to climate change discourse. (Oct.)