The Falmouth Enterprise
East Falmouth resident Robert B. Ryder was among the Upper Cape residents yesterday to take a ride on the inflatable Zodiac raft, Gray Whale, through the choppy waters of Vineyard Sound to tour the Greenpeace vessel, Arctic Sunrise.
The 163-foot icebreaker, Arctic Sunrise, built in 1975 and originally from Norway, anchored in Tarpaulin Cove on Naushon Island for a three-hour stint, the last stop in a visit to Cape Cod this week to promote clean energy initiatives. Having started its East Coast tour in Boston, the ship docked in Provincetown, Hyannis, and Nantucket, and will also stop in New York and Miami.
The visit to the Cape is to show the organization’s support for the proposed 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Hung on the portside of the ship was a large banner that read “Clean Energy Now.”
The wind farm has been designed and slated for construction on Horseshoe Shoal, five miles off Cape Cod shores. If completed, it would be the first offshore wind farm in the country. The turbines, which convert wind into energy, would generate enough energy to satisfy three-quarters of the Cape’s energy needs.
Mr. Ryder, 77, said he was convinced of the importance and necessity of a wind farm for Cape Cod.
He said he has been interested in the work of Greenpeace for a year and came on the tour to learn more about the wind farm, a project he said he was skeptical about when it was first proposed.
A self-proclaimed environmentalist, Mr. Ryder said he is attracted to Greenpeace’s nonviolent approach. Their mission coincides with his “concern for the environment and preservation of species.”
Mr. Ryder, a former Brockton social worker, said he fears that if drastic changes in the environment are made, humans might be the first species, besides lemmings, to destroy themselves.
Mashpee resident Priscilla E. Theriault, a Greenpeace member for more than 30 years, also toured Arctic Sunrise yesterday.
Ms. Theriault said she supports the Cape Cod wind farm project and has been following it with great interest since it was first proposed.
“It is definitely something we should do,” Ms. Theriault said, who believes there are enough groups and organizations involved to ensure the wind farm has a minimal impact on the environment.
Greenpeace’s backing of renewable energy is part of its “Project Thin Ice—Going the Distance to Stop Global Warming.” The project included an attempt to cross the Arctic Ocean during the summer, which, if successful, would have been the first-ever crossing, as well as a study conducted in Greenland to gauge the impact of global warming in the region.
Eric Larsen, one of the two men who attempted the summer crossing of the Arctic Ocean, was onboard Arctic Sunrise yesterday answering questions.
Greenpeace, formed in 1971 as a voice for the environment, is well known for its protests against baby seal clubbing and using its Zodiacs to protest against whaling. The nonprofit organization is funded solely by membership contributions and fees.
Visitors to Arctic Sunrise yesterday were treated to a tour of the ship’s working and sleeping quarters. They also learned about the inner workings of the ship, a vessel that once provided seal clubbers with supplies in Norway and that Greenpeace later acquired. The international vessel is one of three ships Greenpeace International owns. It hosts a multi-national crew of 34 from countries including Turkey, France, Scotland and Canada.
The ship also provides space for a helicopter and a helipad to give crewmembers and scientists flexibility in travel.
Following the tour of Arctic Sunrise, Christopher Miller, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace USA, gave an overview of Project Thin Ice and spoke about the threat of global warming and the benefits of the wind farm.
Mr. Miller said summer temperatures in the Arctic were the warmest on record, according to a group of European scientists who made the observation last week.
There has been much debate over the role global warming has played in the unusually warm waters off the Gulf of Mexico, which intensified Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Miller spoke of the dangers that global warming can have on the environment.
As an example, he said that if the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland were to melt, it would create a seven-meter increase in surrounding water levels. Because that ice is made of fresh water, it would also throw off the salinity in the ocean.
Mr. Miller said Greenpeace looks at wind farm proposals individually and considers their effect on the marine environment.
For example, in July, Greenpeace voiced its disapproval of a wind farm project off the coast of Scotland. Known as Lewis Wind Power, the farm would have 234 turbines, each over 400 feet high. Greenpeace opposed that project because it is too large and is poorly located, Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Miller pointed out that Cape Cod gets its energy from the Mirant Canal Plant in Sandwich, which he said “is the third dirtiest plant in the state.”
In addition to the aesthetic argument over the wind turbines, adversaries argue the wind turbines would be a navigational hazard. Mr. Miller said the experience Europeans have had with wind turbines is that they show up well on ships’ radar and, he said, the farm in Nantucket Sound would actually aid in navigation.
Denmark generates 20 percent of its energy from wind turbines, a significant percentage of it offshore, Mr. Miller added.
Greenpeace’s stop off the coast of Falmouth failed to attract the opposition that gathered over the weekend in Hyannis Harbor. Members of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the group that opposes the Cape Cod wind farm circled Arctic Sunrise to protest Greenpeace’s support of the wind farm.
Jules A. Clark, outreach coordinator for the alliance, who set up an information stand near the dock in Woods Hole yesterday, said, “We aren’t against renewable energy.” She said her group opposes the location for the wind project. “ We all agree that we need renewable energy,” she said.
Because the wind farm would be the first of its kind in the United States, Ms. Clark said there are no regulations in place. The wind farm would do “tremendous destruction to the sound,” she said.