The turbines constantly whirl in the canyon winds in Spanish Fork, and churn in the Wyoming winds along Interstate 80 near Fort Bridger. They turn round and round along the Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington border, and in countless other windy locales throughout the world. And if you travel along Utah's freeways and railways, you've likely seen the mammoth-sized blades being transported on semi trucks and freight trains.
These slender, tall, white wind turbines have an otherworldly beauty to them. They are graceful and smooth, and appear almost as artistic sculptures. I delight in coming upon a field full of wind turbines, stark in their landscape, yet somehow they are at home there. Once I'm past the marvel, I am reminded of how great these turbines are for our environment. They are creators of wind energy, a form of sustainable energy, very unlike coal and gas. Sustainable energy is renewable. It will never run out, again unlike coal and gas. Sustainable energy includes solar energy, hydroelectricity, wave and tidal energies, geothermal energy, and wind energy. What's so great about sustainable energy? Read on.
The United Nations recently named 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Directly from their website:
"More than three billion people in developing countries rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. One and a half billion people are without electricity and even when energy services are available, millions of poor people are unable to pay for them. Thus, there is an inextricable link between energy and sustainable development and modern, cleaner and more efficient energy is relevant in the eradication of poverty.
"Therefore, the General Assembly of the UN emphasized the importance of investing in access to cleaner energy technology options to achieve a climate-resilient future for all and also pointed out the need to improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services and resources for sustainable development."
Sustainable energy projects are happening all over Utah too. Businesses, schools, and individuals are doing their part with things like energy efficiency retrofits, solar panel installations, and wind farms. Visit Utah Clean Energy to learn more about ongoing and past projects, and to be inspired to take on your own sustainable energy projects. And if you're looking for a kid-friendly, quick, and surprising activity, make your own solar lamp with an empty 2-liter plastic bottle, water, and bleach.