Accepted paper:

This sea is our sea - controversies around Cape Wind

Authors:

Ana Isabel Afonso (FCSH-Universidade Nova de Lisboa & CICS.NOVA)

Paper short abstract:

Climate change threats coastal communities and horizons are expanding faraway into less vulnerable places. Renewable energies go into the blue to medicate global warming and produce sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. However, this process is full of controversies, conflicts and conundrums.

Paper long abstract:

Based on the controversies that surrounded the ever to be Cape Wind, this exploratory paper questions some key issues that emerge from discursive clashes, which produce friction zones sorted out during fieldwork carried out in Cape Cod, since 2013. At that time, the topic of research focused the social impact of wind power at local level, and the selected case study - the two town owned turbines sat in the Waste Water Plant Facility of Falmouth, MA - echoed the antagonist perspectives that accentuated less visible incongruities among environmental discourses. If we look at wind power as a green energy source, causing less damage to the environment when compared with fossil fuel and nuclear power, one might think that environmentalists, as well as local citizens would enthusiastically accept its implementation, especially in those remote places, where electricity is expensive and hard to transport. Nevertheless, opposition and controversies, and the emergence of strong grassroots opponents to wind power projects, both inland or offshore contradict this expectation. During the process, a myriad of arguments and motivations was sorted out, and the Cape Wind project died on the beach of Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard, far from the view of the Kennedy family or the Koch brothers. In this context, we question what are the processes that underline those frictions and what kind of alliances and negotiations are taking place at local level, as a response to the global and (more intangible) processes of climate change?

panel P022
Into the blue - cultures of the sea