Monday, August 25, 2008

Dumb Letters: It's All About Mike

This is from today's NYT. The letter writer is referring to NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's suggestion that we can harness wind energy by placing turbines on our buildings. This seems reasonable. What I didn't realize is that this was really all about Mike.

"The suggestion of putting wind turbines on the roofs of skyscrapers is another glaring example of our mayor’s ever-increasing agenda of self-promotion."

Wait wait wait. How is this so? This is another of my favorite rhetorical gambits. When someone has an idea you don't like, rather than propose a counterargument you just impugn the motive of the person proposing the original idea. It's the equivalent of throwing sand in someone's face. By the time they've recovered their sight the other person has run away and they never have to face the actual issue at hand. Case in point: I'm actually responding to it right here.

Is Bloomberg planning on reserving naming rights for all of the turbines for himself? Putting his picture on them, maybe? By the standard set by the letter writer, what initiative could he possibly propose that would not be about self-promotion? Should he stay in his office all day and not say anything to anybody, for fear of seeming like a self-promoter?

Having accomplished her first goal, she then goes on to attempt an actual argument against wind turbines.

"Why take such a chance in a city already scarred by falling construction cranes and other construction debris? And who could ever forget the sight of a helicopter crashing on top of the former Pan Am building and blades tumbling into the street below?"

Holy crap. Because a helicopter once crashed into a building (Blades! It has blades!), and because poorly maintained construction sites have had accidents, that means that turbines will inevitably come loose from their moorings and come screaming down from the skies in never-ending hailstorms of wildly spinning eco-friendly metal, terrorizing an already shaken city and presumably decapitating scores of its good citizens.

Who can ever forget 9/11? Let's close all of the airports! And the skyscrapers, while we're at it. Why take a chance?

"It goes without saying we all need to conserve, but New York City will never be a shining beacon of energy conservation, because of the nature of the beast. If he wants to leave his mark on this city, the mayor would be better advised to attend to its crumbling infrastructure, which is an embarrassment to the greatest city in the world."

Sabine Thomas

New York, Aug. 21, 2008

I appreciate the concern for our fair city's crumbling infrastructure, which is appropriate. But that's another issue. Should we also ignore the schools because of the crumbling infrastructure? How about the water in the harbor? Or the homeless?

And here's some news. We already are a shining beacon of conservation (relative to the rest of the nation, anyway), not in spite of the nature of the beast but because of it. High-density urban living is the most energy-efficient mode of living. We have people living in apartment buildings, which conserve energy not only by reducing the amount of infrastructure required per capita but by conserving heat through shared resources and proximity. (Your fingers stay warmer in a mitten than they do in a glove. Guess why.) And the generally smaller living spaces mean even less area to heat. We also have more people using public transportation or walking, drastically reducing the need for cars.

We can and should be leading the way in other areas of energy production and conservation, not ridiculing sensible ideas for doing so.

1 comment:

Kizz said...

Have you called Al Gore's PR people with that mitten v. glove gem? I think they could use that.

I think the concerns about how well/poorly our fair city (first I wrote fairy city) would implement such an idea are valid. Still, seems like not a bad idea to me. I'm pretty sure I could power my building simply on the wind tunnel created in my courtyard.