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Semantics and spin 

A handy-dandy glossary of terms to understand offshore wind energy development jargon

When it comes right down to it folks, we are living in a most confusing time. It's next to impossible to discern the truth of a matter and get credible sources of info on anything you may be interested in. Media sources are sometimes biased and bought, the government is all over the map, and big industry is slick and looking out for No. 1 (and guaranteed, you ain't No. 1, sweet pea!). Issues are complex and we, as the public, are subject to deceptive ad campaigns, industry greenwashing, and government spin in most egregious ways.

To be honest, sometimes we don't even know what many of the terms that are being thrown around mean. Semantics have been undermined, and targeted confusion wins the day. What the hell?

So, after years of targeted research, attendance at industry and government sponsored conferences, participation in numerous industry/media/government hosted dog and pony shows, and invitations to "educational" seminars proffered by our local institutions of higher learning, I have compiled a short but concise list ... a handy-dandy glossary of terms as it were, to make an understanding of offshore wind energy more relatable and easier to understand.

Done deal: Magical thinking at its finest! A description by government officials, and pro-wind NGOs to describe an experimental project that they really want to come to fruition for illogical and greedy reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with rectifying global warming or dealing with climate change. An easy, untrue answer to public inquiries to keep them from speaking out against the project because they have been told it's too late—"it's a done deal" Jeez! How disingenuous is that?

Fossil fuel funded: A favorite epithet thrown out to malign folks fighting against offshore wind that's almost never the case and so hypocritical. Rarely do the mudslingers realize that they are accusing people of something that they are guilty of themselves. The wind industry is heavily funded by oil companies, (in fact many of the wind energy companies are oil companies) making this tactic illogical and the height of ignorance. But hey, parroting the government and poorly informed government officials is so easy to do. Who wants to really think for themselves after all, right?

Green energy: The ultimate in industry spin deceptions! A description so vague in its parameters but so powerful in its ability to engender blind following and support that it has the capacity to keep intelligent people from using their own heads for something besides a hat rack. A phrase that turns humans into corporate parrots and triggers a generation's collective angst and guilt over royally screwing up the Earth and oceans. The ultimate corporate/government clarion call to fill their pockets in the name of a "green new future." How many times have we seen this phrase used in the recent past? How many times have folks really thought about what it means in terms of personal responsibility?

Renewable: A misnomer and complete semantic misappropriation of a clearly defined word. There is not a single aspect of the offshore wind industry that is renewable, end of story. Offshore wind graveyards and landfills tell the story of a word that never should even be in this glossary. But it's such a great word and sentiment, is it not?

Port revitalization: What a pretty concept for a really horrendous process: a complete industrialization of our coast. The only thing that will be revitalized are the coffers of the port entities and the companies building and running the show. Our small harbors will be irreparably impacted and our thriving local industries most certainly won't be revitalized, rather they will have the vitality sucked right out of them. Who the hell wants to go to a beach right next to an industrial port with staged wind turbines floating offshore and huge diesel-belching ships tooling around? Who wants to go to a national estuary where all the wildlife has been chased away by enormous boats docking at "revitalized" industrial docks that have been built over environmentally sensitive habitats and in otters' favorite places to raise their pups?

Scientific monitoring program: A nonexistent program that if it were in place would keep the permits for offshore surveys from being viable. An absolutely necessary mitigation that none of our California or federal agencies seem to be able to accommodate or find important enough to mandate or enforce. Something that on the surface and in depth sounds good but is not being done to accommodate for the wind industry's inability to comply with environmental mitigation parameters. We totally trust the wind companies to completely adhere to unmonitored and unenforced permit mandates, don't we?

Responsible offshore wind development: The final in a list of industry absurdities. There is no such thing! As shown in numerous offshore wind developments both here and abroad, the industry is not a responsible or viable source of energy. It is environmentally destructive, economically infeasible and expensive, and is an inefficient and highly variable source of energy with no long-term benefits to our environment and with no overall positive impact on worldwide carbon emissions and overall global warming. The word "responsible" in tandem with the words "offshore wind" is the epitome of co-opting a word or concept—the ultimate in semantic misappropriation!

So, there you have just a small but illuminating glossary, one that if researched and acted on will help you save our amazing and vital Central Coast from a destructive and rapacious industry and the clueless folks that have swallowed their B.S. hook, line, and sinker. Δ

Mandy Davis from Los Osos is with the REACT Alliance, which aims to "protect the Central Coast from the destructive impacts of offshore wind energy development." Write a response for publication by emailing it to [email protected].

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