NorthGowerWindTurbines

May 26, 2012

The madness of this venture

Just had a conversation with a small business owner in Manotick: the rising electricity bills are a severe punch to his business. And he deeply resents paying those bills when he knows part of the increases are going for huge subsidies for wind and solar power.

“It just makes no sense at all,” he said. “What kind of province will this be when the Liberal government is done? What will be left?”

Indeed.

Here are some local facts:

-wind power developers are subsidized about $500,000 per turbine per year. In North Gower, assuming 8 (though we don’t for a moment believe that) that is $4 million per year.

-there are no jobs. Wolfe Island has 3 jobs for 86 turbines, where do you think that leaves North Gower after the construction period is over? No jobs.

-research out of the U.S. is showing that the average property value loss for properties within 2 miles/3.2 km of wind turbines is 40%. For North Gower, that represents a $47 million property value loss for young families, seniors and other homeowners

-at $10-15,000 a year per turbine, the farm owner isn’t going to get rich on the lease payments, but the cost to the community is much much more

-wind power is not “green”, it requires fossil fuel back-up due to its unreliability and tendency to produce power out of phase with demand, i.e., when it’s not needed

-Ontario never did a cost-benefit analysis for this, or a business case study. The government simply doesn’t know what it’s getting into.

The Manotick store owner is right: this is just crazy.

February 9, 2012

Best article on wind turbines you might ever read

OK, here you are: highly opinionated (this is the blog for that) but also very amusing…and TRUE! From The Telegraph. We  personally rather admire “bat-chomping eco crucifixes.”

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100136093/the-best-article-on-wind-farms-you-will-ever-read/

The best article on wind farms you will ever read

Aaaaaaaaaghhh!

Before I got sidetracked this morning by my sublime irritation at the Coalition’s latest ludicrous foray into Nanny Statism, what I’d meant to blog about was this.

Some of you will have seen it already. It’s by the great Kevin Myers, it ran in yesterday’s Irish Independent (not the English one, for reasons which are bleeding obvious) and it’s the best piece anyone has written, EVER, about wind farms.

Here’s a taste:

Russia’s main gas-company, Gazprom, was unable to meet demand last weekend as blizzards swept across Europe, and over three hundred people died. Did anyone even think of deploying our wind turbines to make good the energy shortfall from Russia?

Of course not. We all know that windmills are a self-indulgent and sanctimonious luxury whose purpose is to make us feel good. Had Europe genuinely depended on green energy on Friday, by Sunday thousands would be dead from frostbite and exposure, and the EU would have suffered an economic body blow to match that of Japan’s tsunami a year ago. No electricity means no water, no trams, no trains, no airports, no traffic lights, no phone systems, no sewerage, no factories, no service stations, no office lifts, no central heating and even no hospitals, once their generators run out of fuel.

Modern cities are incredibly fragile organisms, which tremble on the edge of disaster the entire time. During a severe blizzard, it is electricity alone that prevents a midwinter urban holocaust. We saw what adverse weather can do, when 15,000 people died in the heatwave that hit France in August 2003. But those deaths were spread over a month. Last weekend’s weather, without energy, could have caused many tens of thousands of deaths over a couple of days.

Why does the entire green spectrum, which now incorporates most conventional parties across Europe, deny the most obvious of truths? To play lethal games with our energy systems in order to honour the whimsical god of climate change is as intelligent and scientific as the Aztec sacrifice of their young. Actually, it is far more frivolous, because at least the Aztecs knew how many people they were sacrificing: no one has the least idea of the loss of life that might result from the EU embracing “green” energy policies.

This is not to do down all the other fine articles which have been written on this subject, many of them by Christopher Booker. But sometimes it takes an outsider, someone who hasn’t been covering the story day-in day-out for years, to conjure the full and hideous magnitude of a scandal.

What I love about Myers’s piece is the concentrated rage – and the Swiftian disgust with all those who have been pushing the renewables scam or benefiting from it. It chimes perfectly with how I feel. Of all the miserable specimens on this planet, no category repels me quite so much as those parasites involved with the great renewables boondoggle. I’ve said before that I’d rather break bread with someone who manufactured land mines for his living than someone involved in rent-seeking from solar power or wind farms. At least with land mines a reasonable case could be made – despite their vile, random destructiveness – they offer some practical value for force protection. As Myers recognises, there is no argument for wind farms whatsoever: they’re just an emblem of the green religious faith, perhaps too a symbol of the environmental ideology’s geographical and political dominance, nothing more useful than that.

Incidentally, I notice that the greenies are now changing their tune on wind farms. Where before the bat-chomping eco crucifixes were spun as a vital part of “energy security”, they are now being repositioned as a kind of carbon-friendly bolt-on which is nice to have around and generally acts as an occasional substitute for fossil fuel when conditions are right.

Have a look at this debate between pro-renewables campaigner Jonathan Pyke and Mark Duchamp of the European Platform Against Wind Farms in The Earth Times and you’ll see what I mean:

Q: How accurate is the argument that wind turbines have to be ‘backed-up’ by alternative sources of power, eg nuclear or coal, due to the irregularity of wind?

Jonathan: It’s not accurate and I think it stems from a misunderstanding about what wind energy is for. It’s better to think of wind as the back-up for gas, allowing us to make much better use of our existing fossil fuel power plants than relying on gas alone. There’s no need to burn gas when the wind is blowing, which National Grid can predict extremely accurately. So comparing it to nuclear or coal is misleading because wind serves a different purpose; every time it blows there’s a substantial decrease in carbon emissions, volatile fossil fuel costs, water for cooling, manufacturing and pollution. The ‘back-up’ argument just isn’t valid.

R-i-g-h-t. So what you’re saying, Jonathan, is that the ONLY reason we’re carpeting some of the world’s most attractive wild countryside in horribly costly, economically inefficient, bird-liquidising, noise-polluting, view-blighting, rare-earth-metal-exploiting, property-debasing, horse-frightening, rent-seekers’ uber-horrors, is to save the odd tonne of CO2 emissions, as and when, despite the fact that the science increasingly suggests that the difference this will make to global climate will be so negligible as to be beyond measurement?

I genuinely don’t understand how the people involved in this scam can sleep at night, really I don’t. But I do know what their punishment should be. They should be forced to spend the rest of their lives living in one of the many newly vacant properties at the foot of the nearest wind farm.

 

November 9, 2011

People vs profit: the people always lose

Items from the news recently:

-it’s been announced that several industrial wind projects in Ontario have DOUBLED the number of turbines to be built, such as the project at Arnow (Samsung and Pattern) which was to be 40 and is now 90. No further environmental assessment, no public meetings, nothing.

-the Canadian Auto Workers are erecting a single turbine at Saugeen Shores at their “Family Education Centre” despite objections from homeowners and in fact the municipality of Saugeen Shores. CAW took it to the Ontario Municipal Board and appealed, and won: they will now get their taxpayer dollars from the FIT program. (Worse news here, since the project was officially approved in 2009–and then went silent–the setbacks do NOT have to conform to those laid out in the Green Energy Act. So much for “stringent regulations” and safety)

-the City of Ottawa made Orgaworld sign a deal that the company would not take diapers and dog feces and other materials that can cause an offensive odour for properties nearby; the company has now appealed to the province and won approval. The City says its contract stands, but we’ll wait to see what “green” arguments are made, so that Orgaworld will be able to take refuse from other municipalities, and make a profit.

-Industry Canada is allowing a 25-storey cellphone tower to be built in one of the most scenic areas in the Pontiac Region of Quebec, where there is a spectacular view of the Ottawa River and the Eardley Escarpment. Views are nice, but profits for Videotron are nicer.

If you haven’t written to your MPP or to the Premier before about these issues (the Ontario ones) this is the time to do it: the McGuinty government got the message on October 6th that issues in the countryside do matter. They need to hear from you about your wishes for this province.

To find your MPP: http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/mpp-contact-information/

 

 

 

October 3, 2011

Graham Saul and Ecology Ottawa

Graham Saul, volunteer Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa, appeared on CBC radio this morning to–essentially–shill for the Ontario Liberal party, in the crucial countdown to election day Thursday. Mr. Saul also works as a staff member with Climate Action Network, which counts among its members Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Sierra Club.

Sounds like an elegant group of environmentalists, doesn’t it? Or… Dr Suzuki recently had to step down from the Foundation that bears his name because his partisan activities could have affected the Foundation’s charitable organization status with Revenue Canada. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment is the Ontario group that continues to spout nonsense figures on thousands of deaths in Ontario from air pollution due to coal-fired power generation (what pollution Ontario does have –and Canada just rated number three in the WORLD for good air quality–is from cars, and pollution that comes from south of the border). The Sierra Club? Executive Director John Bennett has been waging a nasty campaign throughout Ontario and the organization says it supports saving wildlife but, curiously, would not come out in support of said wildlife at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County, where a Toronto-based wind power developer proposes to put industrial wind turbines on Crown land in an important migratory bird area.

Today, Mr Saul praised to Liberal government saying sometimes a government will come out and do wonderful things, in this case, get us off our dependency on “dirty oil, coal and gas.”

Facts:

  1. Oil has NOTHING to do with electricity generation in Ontario.
  2. Coal-fired generation doesn’t make up much of Ontario’s capacity; what it does could have been made a lot cleaner but the Liberal government halted the implementation of cleaner technology, after millions of tax dollars had been spent on the program.
  3. Dirty natural gas? Well, maybe: but news for you, Mr Saul: Ontario is building MORE natural gas power generation facilities. Including the one Mr McGuinty said he halted but which is still under construction. In fact, industrial scale wind power is so intermittent and unreliable (i.e., NOT there when we need it) that more fossil-fuel power generation is needed to back it up.

Look at the names of some of the companies involved in industrial-scale wind power generation: Enbridge, TransAlta, NextEra (really Florida Power and Light), Suncor and the famous Mr T Boone Pickens of the U.S. Mr Pickens is honest: “it’s about natural gas,” he has said, also in a CBC interview many months ago.

The North Gower Wind Action Group asked Mr Saul if it was alright with his group if an entire community was affected by industrial scale wind power generation, which would turn the community into a factory and could cause negative health effects from environmental noise, for the (unattainable) goal of having wind power replace other forms of power generation. His answer was that everyone needs to look at the larger issue of climate change. So, in other words, yes.

The folks in North Gower don’t agree: we respect and honour the environment too and do everything we can to protect it. We just don’t think turning the land into sprawling wind power factories is the way to go.

September 2, 2011

Is wind power “green”? (No.)

An opinion on the environmental impact of industrial-scale wind power; note the “inputs” to the construction process.

Here is the link: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/39973.

From a land use, economic, environmental or raw materials perspective,
wind is unsustainable

Our least sustainable energy option
  – Paul Driessen  Thursday, September 1, 2011 (2) Comments | Print
friendly | Email Us

President Obama and a chorus of environmentalists, politicians,
corporate executives and bureaucrats are perennially bullish on wind
power as the bellwether of our “clean energy economy of the future.”

In reality, wind energy may well be the least sustainable and least
eco-friendly of all electricity options. Its shortcomings are legion,
but the biggest ones can be grouped into eight categories.

Land

As American humorist and philosopher Will Rogers observed, “They ain’t
making any more of it.” Wind turbine installations impact vast amounts
of land, far more than traditional power plants.

Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant generates 3,750 megwatts of
electricity from a 4,000-acre site. The 600-MW John Turk
ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Arkansas covers part of
2,900 acres; two 600-MW coal-fired units in India use just 600 acres.
Gas-fired units like Calpine’s 560-MW Fox Energy Center in Wisconsin
require several hundred acres. All generate reliable power 90-95% of
the year.

By contrast, the 600-MW Fowler Ridge wind installation (355 turbines)
spans 50,000 acres of farm country along Indiana’s I-65 corridor. The
782-MW Roscoe project in Texas (627 turbines) sprawls across 100,000
acres. Oregon’s Shepherds Flat project (338 gigantic 2.5 MW turbines)
covers nearly 80,000 wildlife and scenic acres along the Columbia
River Gorge, for a “rated capacity” of 845 MW.

The Chokecherry-Sierra Madre project will blanket some 320,000 acres
of sage grouse habitat and BLM land in Wyoming with 1,000 monstrous
3-MW turbines, to generate zero to 3,000 MW of intermittent power.
That’s eight times the size of Washington, DC, to get an average
annual output one-fourth of what Palo Verde generates 90% of the time.
But C-SM has already received preliminary approval from BLM.

To replace just 20% of the United States’ 995,000 MW of total
installed generating capacity, we would need to blanket an area the
size of Kansas with wind turbines, and then add nearly a thousand
600-MW gas-fired backup generators … and thousands of miles of new
high voltage transmission lines.

Raw materials

Wind turbine installations require vast amounts of steel, copper, rare
earth metals, fiberglass, concrete, rebar and other materials for the
turbines, towers and bases.

A single 1.7 MW wind turbine, like 315 of the Fowler Ridge units,
involves some 365 tons of materials for the turbine assembly and
tower, plus nearly 1100 tons of concrete and rebar for the foundation.
Bigger units require substantially more materials. Grand total for the
entire Fowler wind installation: some 515,000 tons; for Roscoe,
752,000 tons; for Shepherds Flat, 575,000 tons; for Chokecherry,
perhaps 2,000,000 tons. Offshore installations need far more raw
materials.

To all that must be added millions of tons of steel, copper, concrete
and rebar for thousands of miles of transmission lines – and still
more for mostly gas-fired generators to back up every megawatt of wind
power and generate electricity the 17 hours of each average day that
the wind doesn’t blow.

Money

Taxpayers and consumers must provide perpetual subsidies to prop up
wind projects, which cannot survive without steady infusions of cash
via feed-in tariffs, tax breaks and direct payments.

Transmission lines cost $1.0 million to $2.5 million per mile.
Landowners get $5,000+ per turbine, plus royalties on all energy
produced from the turbine, plus payments for every foot of access road
and transmission lines. However, taxpayers pay more, while the
landowners’ neighbors suffer property devaluation, scenic disruption,
noise, health problems and interference with crop spraying, but no
monetary compensation. Direct federal wind energy subsidies to help
cover this totaled $5 billion in FY 2010; state support added billions
more; still more billions were added to consumers’ electric bills.

The Other People’s Money well is running dry. The “manmade
catastrophic climate change” thesis behind the wind energy campaign is
in shambles. Voters and consumers are understandably fed up.

Energy

Mining, quarrying, drilling, milling, refining, smelting and
manufacturing operations make the production of metals, concrete,
fiberglass and resins, turbines, and heavy equipment to do all of the
above very energy-intensive. Ditto for transporting and installing
turbines, towers, backups and transmission lines. That takes real
energy: abundant, reliable, affordable – not what comes from wind
turbines.

In fact, it probably requires more energy to manufacture, haul and
install these monstrous Cuisinarts of the air and their transmission
systems than they will generate in their lifetimes. However, no
cradle-to-grave analysis has ever been conducted, for the energy
inputs or pollution outputs. We need one now.

Health

Whereas environmentalists garner scary headlines over wildly
speculative claims about health dangers from hydraulic fracturing (to
extract abundant natural gas for wind turbine backup generators), they
ignore and dismiss a growing body of evidence that wind turbines cause
significant health problems.

Principal health issues are associated with noise – not just annoying
audible noise, but inaudible, low-frequency “infrasound” that causes
headache, dizziness, “deep nervous fatigue” and symptoms akin to
seasickness. “Wind turbine syndrome” also includes irritability,
depression, and concentration and sleep problems. Others include
“shadow flicker” or “strobe effect” from whirling blades, which can
trigger seizures in epileptics, “vibroacoustic” effects on the heart
and lungs, and non-lethal harm to animals. Serious lung, heart, cancer
and other problems have been documented from rare earth mining,
smelting and manufacturing in China, under its less rigorous health,
workplace and environmental regulations
.
To date, however, very few health assessments have been required or
conducted prior to permit approval, even for major wind turbine
installations. Perhaps the trial lawyers’ guild could redress that
oversight.

Environment

Raptors, bats and other beautiful flying creatures continue to be
sliced and diced by wind turbines. Thankfully, the Bureau of Land
Management has included an “avian radar system” to track the slaughter
within its 500-square-mile Chokecherry region – and banned mining
among the turbines.

Wind turbines are supposed to reduce pollution and carbon dioxide
emissions. But because backup generators must repeatedly surge to full
power and back to standby, as wind speed rises and falls, they operate
inefficiently, use more fuel and emit more – much like cars forced to
stop repeatedly on freeways.

Jobs

The myth of “green jobs” is hitting the brick wall of reality. While
the turbines are installed in the USA and EU, far more numerous mining
and manufacturing jobs are in China, where they are hardly “green.” As
Spanish and Scottish analysts have documented, the “green” installer
and maintenance jobs cost up to $750,000 apiece – and kill 2.2 to 3.7
traditional jobs for every “eco-friendly” job created.

Electricity costs and reliability

Even huge subsidies cannot cure wind power’s biggest defects: its
electricity costs far more than coal, gas or nuclear alternatives –
and its intermittent nature wreaks havoc on power grids and consumers.
The problem is worst on hot summer afternoons, when demand is highest
and breezes are minimal. Unable to compete against cheap Chinese and
Indian electricity and labor, energy-intensive industries increasingly
face the prospect of sending operations and jobs overseas. Bayer
Chemical’s warning that it may have to close its German facilities is
just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to wind, Nat King Cole might have sung: “Unsustainable
that’s what you are, unsustainable though near or far. Unsustainable
in every way, and forever more that’s how you’ll stay.” Maybe not
forever, but certainly for the foreseeable future, especially compared
to increasingly abundant natural gas.

So take a hint from Spoon’s lively tune and “cut out the middleman.”
Forge a direct relationship with energy you can afford, energy that
works nearly 24/7/365, energy that causes the least ecological damage
and is far more sustainable than wind power: the hydrocarbon,
hydroelectric and nuclear power that have sustained our society and
brought unprecedented health, prosperity and living standards to
billions.

Then help the planet’s least fortunate people to do likewise.

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is a senior fellow with the Committee For A Constructive
Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, nonprofit
public policy institutes that focus on energy, the environment,
economic development and international affairs. Paul Driessen is
author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black death
Paul can be reached at: letters@canadafreepress.com

For news daily, go to http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com and for local news http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com and follow on Twitter @northgowerwind

July 25, 2011

Wind turbines: “Try living with one”

Here’s a letter to the Editor of Ontario Farmer, responding to a recent article that was pro-industrial wind turbines.

Dear editor:

I must respond to the letter by the members of S.A.C. Unlike them, I live directly 550 m from the proposed site of a 2.3 megawatt, 419-foot high wind turbine (w of 3 planned towers). I also live right next door to the neighbours who have had to wait many long months to sell their home,carried two mortgages at the same time and took $100,000 lLESS than an accurate value. Their home was situated on one acre of land, beautifully constructed, completely finished, about 15 years old with a shop most guys would die for, clean as a whip inside and out with very nice landscaping. The only reason they lost $100 K was because of the proposed wind turbine directly in front of their home. They also lost two prospective buyers prior to this deal because as soon as those buyers were informed of the wind project, they pulled out.

The wind project I speak of is the Whittington Wind Farm. They want to locate these towers at the bottom end of the optimum wind area; 264 homes are affected by these towers within a four-mile diameter of the central location. ‘Why’ is my question. Why do these large turbines need to be located in such a populous area? … There is a lot right with the green energy program in theory but there is a lot wrong with it in reality.

Diane Griffith

Mono Township, Ontario

July 11, 2011

Wind turbines, property values and the need for a moratorium

What follows is a letter to the Commissioners in Maine looking into the effects of industrial wind power generation projects in that state, written by U.S. real estate appraiser Michael McCann. Note the setbacks he is recommending—Ontario’s setback (which the government claims is among the most stringent in the world—not true) is 550 meters or a quarter-mile, roughly.

Kenneth Kimmell, Commissioner, DEP
John Auerbach, Commissioner, DPH
MassDEP Wind Turbine Docket
1 Winter Street 4th Floor Mailroom
Boston, MA 02108

Dear Commissioners,

I am responding to your inquiry into health effects from industrial wind turbines. Since there is a noticeable correlation between reported health impacts and significant impacts on real estate values, as well as the real estate rights issue of peaceful use and enjoyment of one’s home, I believe the documented diminution of property values caused by improper turbine siting is an objective measure of this secondary impact.

I do not write as a medical expert; however, in 6 years of reviewing industry funded and independent reports, inspecting project locations, researching empirical prima facie sale price evidence and interviewing residents, I have found that there is a tremendous market aversion of the “market” to buying homes within visible and audible (or sub-audible) proximity to industrial scale turbines.

My value studies have included submissions to Massachusetts Towns of Wareham and Brewster, and have been written to address zoning compliance evaluation of proposed projects in those locales. (I am sure either Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals would be able to provide a copy of my submitted report or presentation, but if interested in reviewing these documents, feel free to contact me directly for a copy.)

I would note for your consideration that wind project developers in Massachusetts typically seek to obtain setback permissions that have proven to be unhealthy and so disturbing to some existing residents near other wind energy projects worldwide, that dozens of people have abandoned their family homes rather than continue to try to cope with an untenable level of impact. Impacts from noise, shadow flicker and the unhealthy physical and/or physiological reactions to same.

Industry prefers to couch their applications for approval with their self defined limits of how many hours of shadow flicker are acceptable, or with “modeled” rather than measured noise studies. They also prefer to discuss setbacks in terms of feet and meters, when projects broadcast their impacts on a scale measured in miles and kilometers. I have personally seen more official scrutiny of public officials hearing zoning requests for fast-food drive through lanes or lighted parking lots than what is often rubber stamped approval of wind applications, with no serious consideration of the multitude of actual impacts from wind turbines.

It is my belief that peaceful use and enjoyment of a residential property is simply a measure of the other side of the same coin; namely, health impacts. If both ways of describing people’s rights are to be adequately protected, then it is my recommendation that Massachusetts develop rules that require:

1. Setbacks be scaled to the size of turbines, i.e., 2+ miles for the 400-500 foot turbines typically proposed, reduced to perhaps ½ mile for turbines of 125 feet in height.

2. Mandatory shutdown of turbines during nightime sleeping hours.

3. Mandatory shutdown of turbines that generate noise complaints, until such time that actual noise levels can be MEASURED and demonstrated that background levels are not exceeded by independently determined health/acoustic study levels, including low frequency and infrasound levels.

4. Mandatory homeowner option to sell to developers at market value, if and when inadequate (i.e., 1,000 feet – 1,500 feet) setbacks are approved by any unit of government.

5. A moratorium on any further turbine construction within 2 miles of any residence, until such time that there are reliable studies addressing low frequency and infrasound impacts from turbines on human health. Claims made by industry put the burden of proof on homeowners, and it is the appropriate role of government to end this trend and rely on credible evidence to protect the public health, safety and welfare, and, indeed, their property values.

Any homeowners that lived at ground zero of Boston’s Big Dig project were certainly bought out for the greater public good. I suggest that enforcing this concept is an appropriate use of governmental authority with the claimed public good of wind energy projects, as well. Until then, the completely lopsided scale of turbine developments will surely continue to create health impacts, and people will be either trapped within, or flee (abandon or sell at huge discounts) their family homes.

Thank you for your attention to my response to your inquiry. I remain available to discuss the related real estate issues that correlate with health effects.

Sincerely,

Michael S. McCann
McCann Appraisal, LLC
500 North Michigan Avenue, Suite # 300
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Real Estate Appraisal & Consulting
cell (312) 961-1601
mikesmccann@comcast.net

June 29, 2011

Health effects from wind turbines? Ontario government doesn’t know (and didn’t really try to find out)

This comes from a blog written by Dr Carl V. Phillips, en expert in epidemiology and related health sciences, who also has a PhD in public policy. He writes on the so-called “experts” who prepare reports based on questionable research and refers to the report by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, released in 2010, with the conclusion that there are no health effects from the noise and vibration produced by industrial wind turbines.

Not a single person living near turbine arrays was interviewed by the Ontario research team. Dr. Phillips:

The problem is that the further away someone is from understanding a scientific matter themselves, the more likely they are to believe someone who is not giving them accurate information, either out of ignorance or a hidden agenda.

You have to know something to even know who you should believe.

A policy maker who has absolutely no clue about scientific epistemology will depend on Wikipedia or 24-year-old aides (who will go to Wikipedia) to tell them what to think.  Even if it is not literally Wikipedia, it is some other source at that level, like news reporters or a local advocacy group, that interprets science at the level of what shows up in the conclusion sentence of research papers abstracts.  As readers of this blog know, such claims are not reliable in health science.  Indeed, Wikipedia and most news outlets intentionally cultivate this kind of uncritical-acceptance-based behavior. 

On a few occasions I have tried to correct errors in Wikipedia where something was once widely believed to be true, but was now shown to not be true (and, I think in all those cases, was never actually based on evidence – it was just one of those conventional wisdom problems).  But even if I made the change in terms of “it was once believed that but now it has been shown/established that….” the editor who controlled the page quickly changed it back.  I was informed, in effect, that most of what is out there on the web still presents the old view and does not acknowledge a controversy, and since science is democratic in the Wikipedia world, the old versions stands.  Given that experience I choose to focus on forums where most readers know enough to recognize at least the basic credibility of what I argue, even if it is contrary to what they thought they knew and what others claim.  My project in this blog is to figure out how to help people skip a few steps on this knowledge ladder, but that does not help much for those who do not even seek that knowledge.

The problem with knowledge at the news or Wikipedia level is that the people compiling it do not know who they should believe, or even how to distinguish when there is legitimate controversy.  Wikipedia is truly great at what other non-expert encyclopedias were always quite good at, getting non-controversial factoids correct, and it dramatically broadens the coverage (from “when did Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address?” to “who were the finalists in American Idol”).  It is pretty good with scientific controversies that do not have much of a worldly political angle (“when did humans arrive in the New World?” “what is the definition of ‘species’?”).  But it and newspapers fail when it comes to current controversies in active politicized sciences that public officials need to wade into.

The Wikipedia-level authors get their information from anyone who can publish an authoritative-seeming paper.  This gets pretty close to maximum current expertise in many sciences, where people authoring study reports mostly know what they are doing and generally know who look to when they do not.  There might be disagreement over ultimate conclusions and best methods, but not complete ignorance about best methods or who the leading thinkers are.  But this is not the case in health sciences.  Most people writing the epidemiology papers, the sources of the summary “knowledge” that is used in policy, have no idea what constitutes expert thinking in epidemiology.  Thu there is yet another layer of not knowing enough to really know that makes uneducated faith in experts and “common sense” that much less likely to identify good advice.

For example, on the question of whether there are health effects from industrial wind turbines, the government of Ontario, Canada (a major hotspot in that fight) seems to put a lot of stock in the thin report on the subject by their Chief Medical Officer of Health.  (CMOH is a strange Canadian institution wherein a physician administrator type is always the province’s chief public health advisor.)  I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I saw a newspaper cite that report as if it were authoritative.  The problem is that the CMOH and her staff were in way over their heads in writing the report, and not only did not know what constitutes the available evidence, but did not know whose analysis to believe.

Funny story:  I was cross-examined by a lawyer representing Ontario at a proceeding where I had presented testimony that the CMOH report was a joke, albeit in a less combative and more detailed way, of course.  She asked me something along the lines of, “since you know so much, did you ever contact the CMOH to try to provide useful input into the writing of the document?”  It boggles the mind.  I expect it would require more search and processing power than Google has to be able to identify any time someone is writing a supposedly expert report that is beyond their capability, and then direct the real experts to proactively contribute to it.  It seems more promising for report writers to track down the experts and ask for input.  Of course, they have to know who to even ask.

The situation in Ontario is that the lawmakers trust an authoritative sounding government official who knows more than they do but is far from an expert in science, and in turn she does not know who to believe or how to interpret it.  Perhaps those who she believed know who are really expert, but they have shown no evidence of that.  I am not sure whether Ontario legislators follow the same pattern of education as Americans, but it really would not take much scientific understanding, when coupled with a bit of partisan education (lobbying) in the subject matter, to realize that the CMOH report is worthless.  But if the local lawmakers do not have the skills to understand (when given some information and advice about thinking in the spirit of what I do in this blog) when their “experts” are giving them bad information, it does not really help much that true expertise exists, merely a few layers away.

June 16, 2011

Eaglewatch: corporations invading communities

This report from native news watch group Eaglewatch, June 16, 2011:

From the Eagle Watch #154

Mining the Wind:  Who Would’ve Thunk It??
Detailed Report
June 16, 2011

In the early days after Contact, we Indigenous were shocked when the Colonizers wanted to sell the land from under us.  We objected vigourously.  To us Real and Original People/Nishnaabe/Ongwehonweh, the land contains the bones and dust of our ancestors.  It is not to be sold but the Newcomers sold it anyway.  Then they wanted to sell the water.  We were shocked and we objected.  We continue to object but they are doing it anyway.  Now they want to sell the wind.  We were shocked and now we are objecting.  Who would’ve ever thought the wind would become such an issue?

Over the past few weeks, we at the Eagle Watch, have scoured the internet for information on industrial wind turbines.  There’s lots out there and quite a growing debate. 

We profiled two wind developers, Prowind and Horizon Wind Inc, both of whom want to set up wind “farms” in Ontario.  What a misnomer!  It’s more like mining with all the associated damage and pollution.

There are many other big wind developers but these two are typical.

TWO CORPORATIONS INVADE TWO COMMUNITIES

With growing opposition to wind turbines being placed near people’s dwellings, the promoters will be looking for more places to put them in the bush, that is on Indigenous communities.  Watch out for that term, “remote location”.  It usually means dumping their toxic and wasteful projects on our land, on our doorstep, in our face.  They don’t care how it harms us.  They presume to act with impunity because they get away with it all the time.

Two well known environmental organizations, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club SUPPORT the mega wind projects.  Some people are surprised and outraged about this.  We have long been aware of the self-serving hypocrites who shelter under the banner of Environmentalists.  Many environmentalists support depopulation.

How much space does one wind turbine need?

“The GE 1.5-MW turbine, with a 70.5-m rotor span, therefore requires at least 48 acres per tower in a single line perpendicular to the wind (32 acres/MW) or 123 acres per tower in an array (82 acres/MW). Each Vestas V90 1.8-MW turbine, with a 90-m rotor, requires 78-200 acres (43-111 acres/MW). Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association has written, “My rule of thumb is 60 acres per megawatt for wind farms on land.”

Horizon aka Horizon Legacy Energy Corporation aka Horizon Wind Inc. aka Horizon Wind Limited Partnership and Big Thunder Windpark Inc., aka Big Thunder Windpark Limited Partnershp
 vs
Fort William First Nations and the City of Thunder Bay

Toronto based, private firm, Horizon Legacy Energy Corp. wants to put up about 20 wind turbines on the Fort William First Nation Nishnaabe territory pristine wilderness outside Thunder Bay Ontario, not far from the US border.   

The Fort William First Nations community is home to about 1500 people.  The colonial puppet Band Council signed an agreement in 2007 with Horizon Wind.  The Nishnaabe people were not informed.  They were not consulted and did not give their consent.

Thunder Bay already signed some deal with Horizon who are now sueing the city for $126million for reasons that are not clear.  Many Thunder Bay residents now vigourously oppose the wind project.

Horizon president and CEO Anthony Zwig was in for a real surprise on May 30, 2011 when the Fort William Nishnaabe filled their community hall to oppose the destructive wind project.  They had a lot of questions for Tony and they had plenty to say to him.

On June 1, a letter written by a Fort William Nishnaabe appeared in the NetNewsLedger.  In part, it reads:
“We, the Anishinabek peoples of Fort William First Nation, have had most of our lands and much of our way of life taken from us by settler society. Indeed, more than 8,600 acres of land has been taken by settler society for settler projects since we established our reserve.  We are literally surrounded by lands that have been destroyed by settler projects. Because of this, we live with all the problems consistent with colonial oppression, including social, psychological, environmental and political pathologies. Due to this legacy, WE WILL NOT GIVE ANOTHER INCH.

“The proposed location for the Big Thunder Wind Park is in prime moose habitat. Our reliance on moose for physical and spiritual sustenance depends on healthy moose habitat surrounding Loch Lomond lake. We have seen time and again that settler projects that meet provincial and/or federal standards do little to protect our sacred relationship to moose and other animals. We gain our identity from relationships to our lands and our animal relatives; though this relationship is hard for settler society to understand, we are ready to protect it. We will not let another settler project compromise moose habitat in our traditional territory…”

Tony “Huff and Puff” Zwig is a prominent and affluent Toronto … philanthropist and patron of the arts just like Murray Koffler, founder of Shoppers Drug Mart and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business CCAB.  Tony and Walter Zwig and Murray and Tom Koffler are lifetime members of the board of governors at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. 
 
The Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee opposes Horizon’s Big Thunder wind project in and near Thunder Bay.  They will be hosting a screening of the film, Windfall on Thursday June 23, 2011 at the Community Auditorium in Thunder Bay.

Another concern to the Fort William Nishnaabe is a company called Sky Power putting in a 45,000 panel solar installation on Fort William territory.  The scale of such a project is also detrimental to wildlife and people who depend on our relations for survival.

Prowind vs North Gower, Carleton Place, Brinston, South Dundas Township, United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, Shanly, Township of Edwardsburg-Cardinal, United Counties of Leeds & Grenville.

These settler communities are all on Ongwehonweh territory between the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers.  Once productive farmland for early settlers, the family farm today is an “endangered species”.  Farmers struggle to earn a living from the soil.

Prowind is a German company with a Canadian subsidiary now based in Hamilton, Ontario.  Prowind has 16 wind projects all over Germany and is now expanding into at least 8 other countries.  This includes England, Ireland, Italy, France, Australia and Romania. 

Johannes Busmann, a certified dairy farmer and lawyer, founded Prowind in 2000.  He knows how to talk to farmers.  Prowind Canada is run by money-loving Cathy Weston, president and Juan K. Anderson, project manager and aerospace engineer.  Prowind likes to start the project and then sell it to someone more willing to deal with the headaches.

A North Gower farmer agreed to rent his land to Prowind for some wind turbines.  Now, Prowind wants to sell the project to him.  Prowind is trying to develop other wind projects in the area.

The resistance to the Prowind wind turbine installations is organized under the name, North Gower Wind Action Group (NGWAG) which is related to Wind Concerns Ontario.  These people are concerned about quality of life and how wind turbines affect property values.  NGWAG is hosting the screening of Windfall on June 26 in North Gower, about 20 minutes outside Ottawa.

THE PROBLEM WITH WIND TURBINES
The big wind projects cause a number of problems.  Here’s our short list of things we learned and then some more details about the related health issues.

1.  Wind turbines are extremely ugly to look at.  We think that Beauty should be a part of our Lifestyle.  Wind turbines also cause strobing, flickering and reflection of sunlight that is a health issue for some people.  The wind turbines being built keep getting bigger and bigger.

2.  Wind turbines make hideous noise, often loud and steady like a speeding train that never arrives.  It’s hard on the nerves literally.  Wind turbines make infrasound which the human ear cannot hear but the body feels it.  People like airline pilots already get vibro-acoustic disease (VAD) from constant exposure to low frequency sound. Wind turbines emit electromagnetic radiation of various frequencies that can be harmful to health on a cellular level.

3.  As more and more farmland is being used for wind turbines, developers are turning to the bush.  They want to cut down trees and build more roads.  Wind turbines need regular maintenance so they must be easily accessible.  This is destructive to all the creatures and Life in the bush.  It is murderous to Indigenous people who get their livelihood from the bush.

4.  Wind turbines adversely affect birds, bats and other creatures.  The wind turbines on Wolfe Island and those proposed for nearby Amherst Island are located on the migratory routes of many threatened and endangered bird species including raptors like the Bald Eagle.  The presence of the turbines causes the birds to avoid these locations where they normally find food.  The Kingston Field Naturalists are studying this issue.

5.  There are potential dangers of chunks of ice falling from wind turbines or being flung great distances by the rotors.  Anyone could get hit.  Fires are also possible and have happened.  The wind turbines contain plastics, resins and other substances that are very toxic when burned.

6.  The promoters of wind turbines always tell you they can power so many homes and produce so many mega watts.  But do they?   Wind is not a constant so it is impossible to predict how much wind will occur during any given time frame.   Just how efficient are the turbines at harnessing the wind’s energy?  A simple fact of physics is that when electrictiy is produced in one place and transmitted to another place, it loses power in the transmission. 

7.  There are security and communications concerns that the wind turbines interfere with microwave transmission and radar including at airports.  Why then this big industrial wind turbine facility going up at Kingston Ontario, the east end of Lake Ontario near to the busy Canadian air force base and international airport, Trenton, less than an hour’s drive to the west???

8.  Proponents claim that industrial wind projects will provide jobs.  Beyond the construction, this does not appear to be true at all.  A minimal number of technicians and mechanics maintain the turbines once in place.

9.  In the end, the wind turbines with so many moving parts will break down into useless garbage in about 20 to 25 years.  The steel rubble will lie with the crumbling concrete pads, motionless and quiet at last.  The emboldened animals will creep forward to examine the debris.  Plants will pop up and vines will creep over the miles of wires, batteries, broken switches and plastic shards.  People will shake their heads, amazed at how foolish their fellow humans can be.

For news of North Gower-Richmond, please go to http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com

June 10, 2011

Farmers Forum: solar and wind power reality bites

In this month’s edition of Eastern Ontario Farmers’ Forum, editor Patrick Meagher sums up the whole “green energy” picture, specifically the promises of jobs and money and a cleaner environment … and sticks a pin in the whole thing.

You can read the full article at http://www.farmersforum.com/JUNE2011/p6.htm  but here are some excerpts.

The Ontario feed-in tariff program .. offered seductive guaranteed prices way above market rates and indexed to inflation. You can earn 80 cents per kWh for your rooftop solar power. But a consumer buying electricity pays about 6.8 cents per kWh for usage up to 600 kWh and 9.9 cents after that. The catch is that we, the people, have to pay for it. The province has said that if you include the HST that started last July 1, you will be paying 42 per cent more in electricity fees by 2015. This is not all due to renewable fuels but you can bet they are low-balling.

Ontario’s experience as North America’s first green energy region is discouraging. We are now discovering other problems. The green energy revolution was supposed to generate jobs. According to the Vancouver-based think tank the Fraser Institute, renewable energy projects do create jobs but at the expense of other jobs. In Ontario, “the government has failed to take into account the jobs destroyed through higher electricity prices to small businesses and consumers,” noted a Fraser Institute commentary last month. “Several recent research studies on the European experience with feed-in tariffs have foudn that each job created by subsidized renewable energy comes at the expense of at least two or more jobs elsewhere in the economy.”

After 10 years of green energy in Spain and the U.K. independent studies found that for every renewable energy job created in Spain, 2.2 jobs were lost. Ouch. The Fraser Institute is thinking just as any good managers of a household would: if we can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

As for green energy cleaning up our air, what’s there to clean? The Fraser Institute notes that “75 per cent of Ontario’s electricity comes from nuclear and hydro power which do not generate emissions. Twenty-two per cent comes from coal and natural gas-fired power plants. Ontarians have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for installation of advanced emission control devices on those plants. [Blog editor note: a program the McGuinty goverment STOPPED.] As a result, Ontario air pollution levels have fallen dramatically since the 1970s and 1980s.

Solar and wind power are expensive job killers that offer few benefits other than making us feel goos about being environmentally friendly, even if they’re not.

There you have it: the lies and manipulation about air pollution, the environment, the economy—wind doesn’t work. Add to that the claim this week by the corporate wind developer proposing to build industrial wind turbine projects in Eastern Ontario, that wind power installations are “protecting against urbanization of rural areas.”  What does that even mean??? One thing: put turbines up and you sterilize your community against any kind of growth (and jobs) for the next 20 years.

E-mail the North Gower Wind Action Group at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca check out local news at http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com and follow on Twitter at northgowerwind

Community note: the award-winning documentary Windfall will be showing in North Gower on June 26 at 2 p.m., Alfred Taylor Centre. Admission $5 at the door; donations to cover costs gratefully received. To view the movie trailer, go to http://www.windfallthemovie.com

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