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Auchter's Art: Not in my backyard

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

On the way to Thanksgiving festivities last week near Flushing, my wife and I drove past a series of solar farms on M-13 — big fields with rows and rows of solar panels that track the sun across the sky to convert light to power. They're relatively new so they still catch my attention.

What also catches attention are the nearby houses with "No Solar Farms" signs planted in their front yards. I can't quite tell if the intention is to get rid of the now existing solar farms or prevent more from coming. But there are less signs than there were this summer, so I don't think they're winning.

I don't blame the folks who have the signs. If I lived across the street, especially if I had lived there a number of years, I might not be happy with the development, either. And yet, as far as energy production facilities go, it could be much worse — the filth and noise of an oil refinery, the potential disaster of a nuclear plant, even the sightline dominance of a modern windmill. Heck, not too long ago, nearly every town had local gasworks that converted coal to flammable gas for lights and heat, and I'm told you did not want to live next door to the smell of that.

But in the end, the energy has to come from some place. And solar and wind are at least equitable in that the energy is generated and consumed in the same basic area. Still, people naturally do not want to be on the frontline.

This of course isn't just a Michigan problem — it's a global problem. Especially as we try to transition away from fossil fuels and, you know, try to save the planet.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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