A viewer sent in an Ask Howard question about the wind farm above the west side of the Maui central plain, worded to encourage me to complain about the way the wind farm looks.
My own view of those turbines is perhaps more complicated than you might think, because I think there are far uglier things that we tolerate because we're used to them.
The first thing most people imagine when they imagine Paris is the Eiffel Tower. But when the Eiffel Tower was new, it was seen as a monstrosity, ardently opposed by the arts community particularly. There was a cool story about a playwright lunching in the Tower every day because it was the only place in Paris where he didn't have to look at it.
In Washington, D.C., there is a zoning law that forbids any building to be taller than the Washington Monument, though exceptions have been made for elevator housing, resulting in a number of buildings with little cupolas or steeples on their rooves. In most cities, no one thought of height restrictions until too late, and no one can remember what these cities used to look like.
In New York, parts of northern Manhattan were suburban and even wooded as recently as the Roaring Twenties, but today few New Yorkers can remember that, and the main park land on Manhattan is Central Park, which was created by man. The lake was dug out of dry land the dirt was used to create hilly areas, where formerly there was nothing but a criss-cross of streets and buildings.
The next time you are driving down the H-2 and see Pearl Harbor before you, try to imagine how it looked before it became a military base. We've grown used to its current appearance.
Having lived in a city with elevated rail lines that look pretty nice and afford excellent views, I find it strange to hear anguished condemnation of plans for elevated rail in Honolulu by people who allowed the H-1 to be build through the back of the city without a peep. At least on the train you'll be able to look around and see the view. And the train will relieve development pressure on the parts of the island that we haven't completely spoiled yet.
Last weekend I was on Maui, and drove north and south across the central plain several times, and I have to tell you that the wind turbines looked a lot more graceful than the new homes that have been built like a scar across the same mountain range.
The choices we make about development are getting harder as our population grows - on that we should all agree - and while I don't agree with all the opposition to current projects, I do think we should mobilize to choose some existing scenery that we absolutely want to save, and move to put that scenery off limits now, not waiting for someone to come forward with a specific plan to change it.