Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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9 Jan 2009

Caution: Beware Low Flying Hijacked Cows

A profoundly historic event happened yesterday.  The Sun ran a front page story, an ‘exclusive’ no less, about a windfarm in Lincolnshire where one of the wind turbines was apparently “hit by a UFO”.  Apparently local people had seen odd lights in the sky, heard a crash, and the next morning one of the blades from the turbine was missing and another was buckled and twisted.  Spooky.  The historic event was, of course, not the alleged UFO incident itself, but rather the fact that for the first time ever, wind power had been deemed important enough, and interesting enough, to grace the front page of The Sun.

It is hard to imagine what might do that kind of damage to a wind turbine, unless they have bloody big seagulls up there in Lincolnshire. The Guardian claims to have solved at least part of the puzzle. Apparently the”massive balls of light with tentacles going right down to the ground” reported by the Sun were actually the Guardian News & Media director of digital content and her husband, who is the energy editor of the Financial Times and who live near the turbines, having a firework display in their back garden.  Quite how that leads to destroyed turbines is really still a mystery though.

Dale Vince of Ecotricity told the BBC, “I reckon something the size and weight of a cow would do it.  If there is a rational explanation – we will come up with it.”  Flying cows?  Now this is getting interesting.  One fascinating conspiracy theory was put forward by someone called RobertArctor, posting a comment on the Guardian’s article.  He wrote “cows fart loads, releasing methane and encouraging global warming! Cows try to sabotage our attempts at producing carbon neutral energy! BEWARE OF COWS – They are better organised than we think!”

Perhaps the anti-wind lobby’s concerns about birds hitting turbines have been correct all this time, they just picked the wrong species to worry about.  Set my mind racing… .  I think that actually that perhaps I owe an apology to David Hill of the World Innovation Foundation.  I was very rude recently about his idea that offshore wind farms were a potential terrorist target, that suicide pilots might fly planes into them, but perhaps what we are seeing here is the first co-ordinated international terrorist ‘hit’ on a wind turbine (clearly they decided against the off-shore ones though, bit chilly this time of year to be bobbing around in an inflatable in the North Sea).

Perhaps what we are seeing here is some extraterrestrial terrorists deciding that they need to immolate themselves in this bizarre fashion. Or perhaps our alien friends have mastered the art of hijacking cows and flying them, probably remotely, into important structures.  Maybe it is part of some new GM research, a cow crossed with a pterodactyl, for some odd reason known only to a handful of scientists at Porton Down.

Or perhaps, hey, you never know, it was exceptionally cold or windy, and one of the blades snapped off, smacked into one of the others as it fell and bent it out of shape.  For me, the absence of any smashed to pieces UFO all over the ground around the turbine, or any finely diced flying cows means that Ockham’s Razor comes to bear, and argues that the most likely thing is probably what happened.

Kind of depressing what it takes to make the front pages of the tabloids though.  Renewables are not sufficiently interesting on their own, they have to be smacked around by extraterrestrials in order to be worthy of our attention.  The previous day at the station I was perusing the daily papers, and was struck by how the broadsheets were all leading on the carnage in Gaza, while the tabloids led on the story that some Page 3 model called Lucy Pinder who is in the Big Brother house, is in danger of being evicted, but the producers are worried that if she goes, no-one will watch the show any longer and it will have to be scrapped.  Heaven forbid.

When the idea of spending Government money on a co-ordinated and designed programme of national relocalisation gets almost no coverage at all, but the proposal that the US porn industry get a $5bn bailout from the US Government due to falling sales in racy DVDs and in order to “rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America” is splashed everywhere, it starts to make perfect sense that we need alien intervention in order to generate interest in the nuts and bolts of powerdown.

I think I need to get a new job as a headline writer.  “Elvis Mulched my Garden”.  “Adolf Hitler’s Lovechild In Seed Saving Drama”. “Lindsey Lohan Drunk at 4am on Home Made Blackcurrant Wine: for recipe see page 4”.  You have been warned.  And watch out for those flying cows.

Categories: General

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Steve Atkins
9 Jan 10:04am

I have a theory…

male giraffe escaped from Longleat

pegged it’s way to Lincolnshire

had a shave

went clubbing


pegged it back home just in time for the keepers head count

…cows are pretty good at taking off, but they need to work on the flapping a bit more:

9 Jan 10:25am

Steve, presumably when you say ‘went clubbing’, you mean ‘got invited to a rather swanky fireworks display and party held by London media types’, where it met a rather good looking wind turbine… “

Grant D. Vallance
9 Jan 11:05am

An excellent explanation of what probably happened may be found at:

Suffice to say there is a scientific explanation 🙂

Grant D. Vallance

Mark O'Sullivan
9 Jan 4:04pm

what’s next is: “Martians ran away with my compost”. (They could probably use the topsoil)

Dr David Hill
9 Jan 5:46pm

No problems Rob !


World Innovation Foundation Charity

Ps. I am a Green voter by the way !

9 Jan 6:06pm

FAR more likely that a few Monty Python and the Holy Grail re-enactors have been indulging in a little midnight cow-flinging. Trebuchets are SO much fun.

Or how about low-flying drug smugglers, not too prone to report the fact that they lost their landing gear?

And/or – the crop-circle cults have developed a new pastime!

Ben Brangwyn
10 Jan 1:08am

My theory is that wind turbines (like the computer in the Terminator series) have become “self-aware”.

What we are seeing here is not unlike the self-immolation of Tibetan monks to raise awareness of genocide.

A highly motivated, selfless turbine has taken it apon himself to commit aerial hari-kiri to alert the world to the plight of wind power in the face of global oil and one or two vociferous local objectors.

World – TAKE NOTICE!!!

Cristiano Bottone
10 Jan 7:22am

@ Ben
You’re a geniuns!

@ Rob

“When the idea of spending Government money on a co-ordinated and designed programme of national relocalisation gets almost no coverage at al”

Do you mean that British Government is planning this?

10 Jan 3:30pm

I DO really love “Elvis Mulched My Garden!”.

Hm. Maybe you could actually write and sell some of these?

“Elvis Investing In Windpower!”
“Elvis Sighted At Windpowered Hideaway!”
“Elvis Loves New Windmills- ‘They Move Just Like Me!’ ”

Could move a lot of public opinion!

Steve Atkins
10 Jan 4:13pm

———— ‘freecycle’ – ———–
changing the world one gift at a time…

OFFERED: Suicidal wind turbine – (in need of TLC).

ALSO OFFERED: Sliced giraffe tongue & beef burgers

WANTED: 300ft fireguard

Chris Vernon
10 Jan 6:57pm

It has been very well handled by Dale Vince. This could have been a PR nightmare, bad manufacturing, bad construction, health and safety risk etc.

But instead, he’s got Ecotricity’s name and wind turbines in a dozen or so national media outlets and no one’s really talking about how one of his turbines fell apart.

Good work!

Mike Grenville
15 Jan 2:02pm

BEWARE OF COWS – They are better organised than we think!”

You are right! Cows with guns