Complex Story

Mon, 10/12/2009 – 11:16 – Sherri Lange

Greetings from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where Lake Ontario is under siege. Believe me, a Great Lake near you will be or is currently experiencing the same story.

This story is so complex and yet so simple: grand business schemes involving billions of dollars, government collusion in un-tendered bids, oblique and incomprehensible commentary from officials re health, environment concerns, as well as the allure of “green dollars”, “green jobs”, and saving the planet. What are we talking about? Wind turbines in our drinking water, perilously close to human populations, 60 to 100 behemoth structures, 40 stories tall, less than 2km from people’s front windows on the Lake, possibly as close as 1km! according to some sources, whirring and buzzing and flickering, interrupting bird migration, bat migration and nesting formations, vibrations assisting the crumbling of the giant Bluffs that have stood as an Ice Age record going back some 13,000 years, since the last retreat, and installation processes stirring up 50 year deposits of gunk and muss of POPs, PCBs, mercury, lead, you name it.

Robert Thorpe: Road less Travelled

Robert Thorpe: Road less Travelled

From the EPA which also presents the Canadian flag on its site:

It has become clear that the accumulation into the food chain of persistent bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals, such as PCBs, dioxins and furans, and mercury (as methylmercury), is not solely dependent on their concentration in sediments. Characteristics of the sediment such as organic content, microbial environment, pH, redox conditions, and presence of sulfates and sulfides can all affect the potential for PBT chemicals to be bioaccumulated. Furthermore, sediment reactions are typically characterized and studied as static systems.

…There are wide spread “uncertainties” in the disruption of sediments, the article goes on to say.

There are numerous hazardous chemicals which have greater health impacts on ecological communities than humans when found at elevated levels in sediments. These include some metals, lead for example, and some organic compounds, such as PAHs.

The longer it rests, the deeper it settles, and most scientists believe and express that ANY disruption of these lakebeds is very dangerous. The gunk of previous industrializations is already in the Lakes! Remember Love Canal? This industry will add more cement (on land it requires two football fields of cement per turbine), lay down the lines for connection to the grid, befoul the water with drippings of oil that are required to maintain the nacelles and other moving parts. Remember, this is an INDUSTRY.

What if you wake up one day to find that Toronto Hydro has applied to place an anemometer (wind testing device) off the shore of your home environs, with the purpose of proving there is enough wind (there isn’t! by two major testing results, The Wind Atlas and the Helimax Report), at a cost of over $1 million to the tax payers, and the ultimate price is your health, your pocketbook (costs of Hydro will more than double, directly or indirectly), your aesthetic, which is huge, your enjoyment of rest and communion with nature, of course your property values, which no one is supposed to think about over here, and your failing faith in government, leading you down this blind path, which will certainly most certainly be declared a fraud by succeeding generations. That’s quite a mouthful…where does one start to tell the tale of what bureaucrats, financial tooth fairies, and BIG BUSINESS (Turbine Industry) are doing to our shorelines, our water, our health, our homes???

Have I got your attention yet?

There are plans afoot to contaminate and industrialize all our Great Lakes. Make no mistake. There are huge plans to industrialize our Great Lakes in the name of “green.” False hopes of saving the planet combined with unparalleled greed and the speed of a gold rush. As if the rush for sucking the drinkable water out of the Lakes isn’t enough! We still need to think about the precious air above the water as a commodity, too.

When we first woke up to the horrid thought, and I do mean horrific, that our gorgeous shoreline and beautiful Lake would be industrialized, I did not sleep for several weeks. The audacity of the idea was so repugnant. Dave Dempsey has written about the aesthetic concerns with wind power as an “explosive” issue for communities, article here,

and this resonates deeply with most of us. But the developers want to call us all NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), and any talk of aesthetics appears to them insipid. One columnist in the Toronto Star wrote of this community (Guildwood/Scarborough Bluffs) as NIMBYS of the highest order, not wanting turbines in our community is akin to not wanting homes for pregnant mothers in our midst, or even that we might be “baby killers.”

The hype gets hot, the stakes are huge. Big Wind is at the door, huffing and puffing, waiting to churn out those mammoth dollars in subsidies, possibly to shortly go bankrupt, then apply under a new name for more subsidies, and so it goes…at the horrible expense of the communities affronted by industrialization.

The health effects of turbines? Please know that this is the hotspot. This is the target denominator that communities can effectively use, because no government wants to be seen as using human populations as “collateral damage.” (Actually, upwards of 5% of a community will be adversely affected, heart arrhythmias, tinnitus, nausea, sleep disorders, Chronic Fatigue, migraines, and a host more), according to many reports.

The economics? Bad and worse. Environmental degradation? Birds, bats and other migratory and nesting creatures? The misnomer of “green”? (Wind energy, despite all the hype, isn’t.) The effects on animal and human health? Gosh, my husband says that when you take the time to study something for about 60 hours, you can be called something of an expert. Have our leaders done their homework? Our community has done a LOT of homework. We are ready to disseminate.

I asked Larry Solomon, journalist and Director of Energy Probe, a think-tank organization in Canada, if he really felt the leaders of the province understood the inherent flaws in wind power. He felt they did not have the expertise. That is scary in itself, and yet a relief. Witness his bold writing style in just one session: “Profitin’ In the Wind.”

Scary, that they (The Premier, Dalton McGuinty, and his Ministers, and the equally uninformed City Mayor, David Miller) are willy-nilly pursuing relentlessly a rather corrupt industry alliance, one that really in the long run has no chance of lowering C02 levels, nor of relieving us of the strain of possible climate change, and a relief, in that if they did have the knowledge and went ahead with these lamebrain schemes, what could possibly be their rationale? What, other than the powerful dollar.

These are a few of the following topics I will touch on in the next few days.


And the solution?

Submitted by Alan Maki on Tue, 10/13/2009 – 11:30.

I am glad to see you touching on the aspect of corporate profits here.

Corporate profits is what has driven all use and “development” along the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes watershed for at least the last 150 years… as I have repeatedly brought out on this site we have the example of “Slag Beach” at the former late 19th Century iron ore procesing operation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

We have the huge iron ore mining operations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan (past and present) which has required tremendous energy.

It has been estimated that no less than 25% of the steel produced from these mining operations has gone into military production and the waging of wars.

Has anyone even bothered to calculate just how much energy needs to be produced to maintain this country’s military insanity?

But, then, again, these wars and this militarism is all about profits, corporate profits, too; and it is often the same Wall Street crowd who profits from wars and the power generating industries.

For many years environmentalists have refused to address the issue of the militarization of our country even though this militarization and the senseless wars consume so much of our resources in so many ways… including consuming huge amounts of power.

On top of the military wastefulness which Karl Marx so astutely observed is tantamount to a “nation taking its resources and dumping them into the ocean;” we have a capitalist society that is based upon profits derived from the most insane consumer society that over one-hundred years ago people would have laughed off as some kind of barbaric science-fiction tale.

Instead of a society planned around human needs and requirements as articulated in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have a society which at every turn waste is being promoted and the insanity of it all is that all this wasteful production requires huge amounts of energy to produce, huge amounts of energy during consumption and huge amounts of energy to dispose of.

My hunch is that there is more than a row of windmills lining the shores of Lake Ontario in your future before people decide that it is time to look for a better way of doing things and organizing society… Einstein mentioned something along the line that “everything is changing except for our way of thinking;” and then he went on to write his essay, “Why Socialism?” condeming capitalism and explaining the need for a cooperative form of socialism which can be read here:

We have a military-financial-industrial complex running the United States and Canada that has to be brought under control and abolished if we want to begin to resolve our energy problems.

In my opinion, the environmental movement needs a good clear assessment of just how much energy is being consumed for what and what energy we don’t need to be producing— like for fighting these dirty wars for oil and Wall Street’s regional domination— we should just eliminate… I would venture to guess that this would keep our Great Lake shorelines free from windmills.

You should probably talk all of this over real good with Jack Layton and your New Democratic Party in Canada because if you wait for U.S. politicians to take up this issue you are going to have some kind of “small-scale nuclear power plants” sitting on your beach, too, just to feed the insatiable need of the military-financial-industrial complex’ drive for greater profits… after all, where is most of the power you produce up in Canada being consumed? I live in northern Minnesota on Lake-of-the-Woods, right on the U.S.-Canada border and there are powerlines and oil and gas pipelines crossing the border everywhere all over the place… and, believe me… none of this energy is going north.

Yes, it really is a complex story; but, a story that truthfully needs to be told, none-the-less. And a problem that we need to join hands across our border to solve.

Complex Story

Submitted by Sherri Lange on Wed, 10/14/2009 – 11:55.

Thanks to Alan Maki for his lucid understanding of the behind-the-scenes view of energy use. There is a complacency in having such ready and relatively cheap access to energy…how often do we actully “think deeply” about where it comes from, how much it costs, the broad band swath of societal uses of energy? You have certainly stimulated my appetite for more research along the lines you suggest. The societal and cultural change you advocate? Absolutely. A real shake down (up?) is required, because it ain’t working the way it is going on for the last century. Who will provide this activism? Probably folks like you and me, wringing out truth from a very mixed and may I say perverse set of factors, not all nice and pretty to look at. Thanks for this perspective!

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