In a news story you’re sure to see all over Facebook this week with gleeful “look at these morons” comments, the town council of Woodland, North Carolina has reportedly rejected a request to rezone an area of residential/agriculture land as a manufacturing zone to build a solar farm, and the reason — according to everyone aggregating this local news story — is that the town as a monolithic entity thinks solar panels will “suck up all the energy from the sun.”
That’s not the whole story, but it sure is fun to paint people from a small town as a bunch of worthless yokels, right? It’s important to note the town has already approved three solar farms, all being built (and profits being sent away to) a company not located in Woodland, owned by people who don’t live or pay taxes in Woodland, and at least one citizen at the town council meeting raised concerns about what yet another solar farm in town will do to property values.
But enough of all this silly empathy, LET’S LAUGH AT SOME MORONS.
Jane Mann said she is a local native and is concerned about the plants that make the community beautiful. She is a retired Northampton science teacher and is concerned that photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight, would not happen and would keep the plants from growing. She said she has observed areas near solar panels where the plants are brown and dead because they did not get enough sunlight. … She also questioned the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer. […] Bobby Mann […] said the solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland.
It should be noted that those were not direct quotes from either of these two people. As much as I’d like to do a lazy post painting an entire town as backwoods imbeciles — and the amount of Facebook shares that type of post gets compared to this post would highly incentivize that kind of vitriol — I just can’t bring myself to hate on these people for the sake of a very convenient lede.
I’m highly skeptical that either of these people really believe solar panels suck up all the energy from the sun or cause cancer or prevent photosynthesis. If they said anything along those lines (these aren’t direct quotes, so we don’t know), it could have been a ham-fisted attempt to make any argument against yet another rezoning of residential land in a way that another person at the council meeting argued was only benefiting “the landowners who sell their land, the solar companies, and the electrical companies.” The news story notes the town of Woodland will also receive “$7,000 per year to train the fire department in case something goes wrong.” There is no funding going directly to the residents themselves.
People who are not directly benefiting from something that they’ve heard might lower their property values might say any stupid thing to prevent that financial hit, including saying things like, hey, maybe it causes cancer. Maybe don’t build that thing.
But nah. Let’s just do what every other website is going to do today and call these people idiots. Let’s quote a local news reporter’s summary as if they’re all direct quotes. Media does this because it works. That’s what goes viral on Facebook. Who are we going to paint as the all-bad boogeyman this week? Woodland, North Carolina, get in the Wicker Man.