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Wind Farm Siting and Protected Areas in Catalonia: Planning Alternatives or Reproducing 'One-Dimensional Thinking'?

Pere Ariza-Montobbio () and Katharine Farrell ()
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Pere Ariza-Montobbio: Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Edifici C Campus de la UAB, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona, Spain

Sustainability, 2012, vol. 4, issue 12, 1-26

Abstract: Wind energy is an emblem of sustainability with the potential to promote a qualitative alternative to current energy systems and nuclear options for CO 2 reduction. However, wind farm siting often conflicts with aspirations to conserve traditional landscapes and wildlife habitats. In this paper we adopt a Critical Theory perspective, informed by Herbert Marcuse`s work, to study the discourse concerning wind energy siting in Catalonia, Spain. We give particular attention to how tensions between potentially conflicting sustainability objectives are addressed and by whom. Based on a review of this siting discourse and the application of Marcuse’s theory, we find that the Catalan wind energy siting discourse is both influenced by and reproducing what Marcuse referred to as the ‘one-dimensional thinking’ of technology as ideology: erasing the possibility of critical dialectical thought by subsuming the question of “what should be” under the question of “what is”. This has implications both for how these conflicts are investigated and for the sustainability of decisions taken. We conclude that closer attention to the role of ‘one-dimensional thinking’ in wind energy siting discourses could improve not only the understanding of their logic but might also have the potential to help make them more democratic.

Keywords: wind energy; protected areas; one-dimensional thinking; wicked problems; discourse analysis; post-normal science (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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