Letter: Turbines, a ghastly embodiment of man's arrogance

Posted 5/4/23

Beauty. The beauty of the earth.   The beauty of the mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes—and, of course, the ocean.   The Ocean State, our little Rhode Island, embraced by the …

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Letter: Turbines, a ghastly embodiment of man's arrogance


Beauty. The beauty of the earth.  The beauty of the mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes—and, of course, the ocean.  The Ocean State, our little Rhode Island, embraced by the endless, grace-filled ocean.  Dreamy, the long endless horizon.  A poet sits on a gray rock and scribbles along the sweet vision.  A painter stands tall in front of the canvas, draws a straight line unfolding the mysterious hues.  A musician with guitar pulls the strings in harmony with rolling waves that traveled miles and miles from the far reaches of the horizon.  And thousands of such human engagements with pure unspoiled nature—here, in little RI, the unspoiled ocean and her horizon.

All these, and much more, are in jeopardy because a sinister and untested idea, deaf to the concerns of unbiased scientists and citizens, is marching forward forcefully to erect very tall, very wide, very monstrous, very industrial, very forbidding off-shore wind turbines, directly in front of the entirety of the RI coast.

Let’s leave aside all the other concerns, such as whales, planktons, birds, fish, crustaceans, fishermen, boaters, tourists, and changes to the ocean floor without realizing the consequences.  Let’s leave aside collateral damage.  Let’s leave aside what we don’t know that will harm us.  Let’s even leave aside global warming, either as threat to the earth or to mankind, which has already survived a few deadlines.

Let’s talk about the artists and man’s desire to be with unadulterated nature without chagrin.  Let’s talk about unspoiled nature and unspoiled oceans that heal the human soul.  Pure unspoiled nature: a gift, but not a privilege; a right, and a responsibility.

How will artists, like the ones from South Coast Artists, Providence Art Club, Wickford, Westport paint the ocean and its horizon desecrated with giant monstrous wind turbines!  How will poets write sonnets at the shore, like Shelley!  How will Otis Redding and Steve Cropper compose timeless music!

The concern of industrialization on the human experience is not unique to our time.  James H. Rubin, an art historian, wrote about Monet’s work ‘The Coalmen’, “Here, Monet transforms the dirty, sweaty, robotic grind of his subjects into a rhythmic counterpoint, somewhere between lugubrious and funeral, subsumed into the artifice of art.”

And funeral it is.  It is a funeral of our precious ocean and the horizon.  In the 19th century, Monet, and everyone else, and those who worked in dirty, polluted factories and railroads had the opportunity to escape to the unspoiled seaside.  If (I fear to say when) the soulless and insatiable corporations, along with their servitude politicians, and mouthpiece journalists, have it their way, the pristine ocean in our Ocean State will no longer be where we can interact with unspoiled nature, gaze into the endless horizon, escape from everyday toils of an industrialized world.

The industrialized ocean will engulf our human experience, and the poets, and the painters, and the musicians.

Nature is a resource.  But it is not just a resource.  Its value is inherent, not merely in its use.  How arrogant of man to presume it should be, before all else, useful.  Who are we to prioritize what we can take from it?  Who are we to plumb the horizon for its usefulness?  Beauty's value is not in its use, but its sublime uselessness. 

That the horizon reminds us of this is nature's grace.

It reminds us to gaze.

Nature is to look out to.  To take man outward, away from himself, before he returns to himself.  Do not underestimate the gravity of the horizon, or its potential loss.  To look outward, to what is open, to what is ahead, to what is beyond us, to what is possible, is a valve not just for so-called "creative" types, but for our collective imagination, our collective unconscious.  To truly look outward is to be humbled.  To look outward derives the potential for hope.

The turbines are not just big.  They are monstrous, and they are more.  The more one studies them, the more chilling facts one discovers.  When you get a chance, google and find the many concerned people and groups.  Read what they have to say, and what is known, and what is hidden.  There are many out there being silenced.  Go and listen before you sign up.  Before you build, look outward.

Ara Sadaniantz, MD

Associate Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Brown University

Little Compton


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