This page was written in Australia and has an Australian perspective, but it will also have applicability elsewhere.

Opposition to wind and coal

Opposition to wind power has typically been based on lies and misinformation and has often been unethical (I've had lots of experience in this field), while the opposition to coal mining seems to me (I've had less direct experience here) to be honest, very justified, well informed, based on a concern for our shared environment and highly ethical.


Perhaps because opposition to wind power is primarily selfish (NIMBY - Not in my back yard!) while opposition to the coal industry is largely altruistic (it's for the good of the planet and everyone on it)?

Another reason might be that there is very little ethically based justification to oppose wind power (so the opposition resorts to lies) while there are strong ethical reasons to oppose the coal industry (so there is no need to resort to lies).

If saying that opposition to wind power is primarily selfish offends some people I'm sorry, but it seems to me to be a fact. Of course there are times when we must be selfish, we have to look after our own interests in a world that is largely 'dog eat dog', but surely we must look to the needs of others and of the biosphere too.

This page written 2018/03/01, last edited 2022/04/18
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

Opposition to wind power

Snowtown Wind Farm, near my home in South Australia
Photo 2016/10/19
I became interested in the opposition to the wind power industry around 2003, at the time the first substantial wind farms were being built in Australia and I noticed that most of that opposition was ill-informed; perhaps it was later that it became dishonest, misleading and abusive.

While much of the opposition came from people who were genuinely (although usually needlessly) concerned about wind power developments, a great deal also came from people and organisations with financial links to the fossil fuel industry. Obviously wind power in particular, and renewable energy in general, is a great threat to the fossil fuel industry. Of course there is big money in the fossil fuel industry and where there is big money there is often great dishonesty, consider the tobacco industry.

The justification for the opposition to wind power developments included:

Those who oppose wind power often either do not care about climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise, or deny that they are happening.

Wind farms reduce greenhouse emissions by displacing fossil fuelled power stations and they save lives by reducing the air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels that kills millions of people each year. So those who oppose a wind farm development are most likely prioritising their personal preferences over the welfare of the planet and of future generations.

There can be little doubt that quite a bit of opposition to wind power comes from those who see it as a threat to the profits that they are getting from the fossil fuel industry. The coal industry is facing terminal decline and this has caused panic among those who have invested millions of dollars in it.

I have argued elsewhere that dishonestly opposing renewable energy is a crime against humanity.

Opposition to the coal industry

Hazelwood coal mine fire, February 2014
Hazelwood fire
Image credit
Chinese people in Beijing are reminded what a clear sky looks like by a big screen.
Beijing smog
Image credit: Feng li/Getty Images
The burning of coal is one of the main causes of climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. The air pollution from the burning of coal kills millions of people each year.

All well informed people with a conscience have ample reason to oppose the coal industry and plenty of evidence to support their stance.

Anyone who wants to protect the world that future generations are to live in will oppose the coal industry and fossil fuel industries in general.

Unlike opposition to the wind industry, there is no need for arguments to be confined to selfish motives nor is there a need to desperately look for arguments of dubious veracity, or arguments that are simply false.

The coal industry is in terminal decline for very good reasons.

These things being so, there is no need for opponents of the coal industry to exaggerate or lie.

What motivates the opposition?

What motivates the opposition to wind power?

  1. Supporters of, and investors in, the fossil fuel industry recognise that renewable energy in general, and wind power in particular, is a great threat to their livelihoods and wealth. The better informed of them would realise that the coal industry in particular has no future, but they will try to support it by rubbishing renewables as long as they can.

  2. Perceived intrusion on people's space, the visibility of the turbines, the noise that they make (or that people fear that they make), mostly unfounded fear of reduced land values, unfounded fear of health impacts of nearby turbines.

  3. Envy of neighbours who are seen to be going to profit from the development while the person opposing the development feels he/she is missing out. Unfortunately, in this world that is in desperate need of altruism, a great many people are selfish.

  4. Fear of change: some people are uncomfortable with substantial change.

  5. Ideological opposition: "Wind farms are a Greeny obsession and I'm opposed to Greenies" and similar feelings. "Coal has been reliable in the past, we shouldn't risk changing to renewables."

  6. A (false) perception that wind power is more expensive than more conventional power generation methods and that this is to blame for rising power prices. In fact electricity prices have risen less in South Australia, which has a high level of wind power, than in the eastern, coal-powered, states.

  7. Resentment that financial incentives are being given to renewable energy. (These people seem to be ignorant of, or don't want to know about, the huge subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry.)
I've written in more detail on these points on another page on this site.

What motivates the opposition to the coal industry?

  1. Awareness of the climate change and ocean acidification caused by the burning of fossil fuels

  2. Resentment of the many, largely hidden, financial incentives and subsidies being given to the coal industry

  3. Awareness of the millions of people killed each year by the air pollution from the burning of coal

  4. A desire for a more sustainable future

  5. A desire for a viable future for children, grandchildren, future generations and the future of all non-human species

  6. Knowledge of the damage done by mining

  7. A desire to protect groundwater from the damage caused by coal mining

  8. A desire to protect valuable farm land from destruction by open-cut mining