This low footprint thing should realize itís not as low as one may think.
I have a new house. HVAC is geothermal. Electric is solar. I currently currently cruise the only new boat I ever had. Electricity is solar and wind. My town has multiple wind turbines.
Wind moves air from up high and brings it down and does the reverse. It causes the downwind land to be hotter. Solar requires extensive mining. Boats are Glass Reinforced PLASTIC and therefore a petroleum product as is my dinghy, sails and running rigging. Even todayís ďwooden ď boats are held together with petroleum products and painted with the same.
My friends boats were baked at a huge expenditure of energy. And of course huge energy is required to mine, smelt and weld a metal boat. Now with super efficient motor boats like the artnautica motor boats need not be worse than us rag baggers.
Sure Iím not live on a wedding cake mega yacht but I donít think Iím that pure.
Impact will come from reinventing the grid and transportation. I did what I did because it improves my quality of life. Not due to carbon footprint. Living without the noise, stink, and frequent maintenance of piston engines is just harmonious and nice. Not paying utilities is a blessing as is not being dependent on the grid. Thatís reason enough. Especially now when when averaged over the years itís not an additional expense.
I have had a small army of students doing life cycle analyses of a wide variety of emerging energy technologies for the last 15 years, so I do understand both the environmental and social impacts of these technologies. Neodymium mining for wind turbine magnets has caused significant pollution and health issues in the area around Bautou China. Mining for Cobalt for Lithium Ion Batteries in the Kolowezi region of Congo has caused birth defects and heavy metal poisoning for the local population, building the Ivanpah Concentrated Solar Plant near Las Vegas damaged environment for endangered desert tortoises, the Lightning Dock Geothermal plant in the Animas Valley of New Mexico is putting the local groundwater supply at risk. It should come as no surprise that there is no such thing as a free lunch or a clean energy technology. The oil industry has done its share of damage to the environment too. Go ask the residents of the Niger Delta who can't feed their families because oil spills have killed off all the fish. There are coal miners around the world suffering from silicosis and ground water that has been contaminated by fracking fluid from oil and natural gas drilling.
A very clear eyed cost benefit analysis is needed to balance the environmental costs of these new energy technologies against the significant impact of fossil fuel production and use and the anthropomorphic climate change and ocean acidification from the resulting CO2 emissions. If you spend some time with the IPCC reports published over the past few years, it becomes fairly clear that while there are significant environmental and social costs to moving away from a carbon based economy, the benefits of reducing the damage caused by continuing to use fossil fuels far outweigh these costs. Sea level rise causing some countries to go under water and increasing salt water intrusion to coastal fresh water aquifers and increased sstorm damage to coastal infrastructure and the costs of coastal hardening, Ocean acidification leading to bleaching of coral reefs that are a major nursery of fish life and reduction of marine biodiversity. The increased costs of dealing with changes in rainfall patterns that result in more intense downpours causing flooding, erosion and a reduced ability to refill depleted aquifers because of rapid runoff. More frequent droughts and more intense droughts resulting in forest fires, forests that are more susceptible to insect attacks, agricultural losses, depletion of fossil groundwater resources. Loss of biodiversity due to changing climactic zones and pressure on niche species to move to higher altitude faster than they can manage. Spread of insect borne diseases to regions where it is no longer cold enough to kill off the vectors in the wintertime. The list goes on and on and the worst part is that the people who are least responsible for causing these problems are the ones who are the most likely to be harmed by them. There is a false equivalence between the real environmental and social impacts of emerging energy technologies and the damage that producing, let alone using fossil fuels causes. Consider the example you gave of wind turbines mixing air between different levels as a type of thermal pollution. Every power plant around the world that uses thermoelectric generation creates several orders of magnitude more thermal pollution than a wind farm of comparable output. Remember the Fukushima Nuclear power plants that were flooded in the tsunami that hit Japan a few years back? The reason why they were vulnerable is because all thermoelectric power plants need to be built next to sources of cooling water such as the ocean, so they can condense the steam produced by burning coal, burning oil, burning natural gas, nuclear fission, concentrating solar power, etc.. That massive amount of heat is then dumped back into the cooling water source. So yes, footprint is important.
Perhaps if I have time later, I will address the other false equivalence here, between the environmental impact of building and living in a house from scratch as opposed to building and living on boat, but I have ranted enough for one post!