Myth of Green JobsThu, 10/15/2009 – 10:51 – Sherri Lange

Ah, the dream of instant green jobs, a green economy, a pleasant feel-good shift to a new paradigm in business that eases the pain of industry closures, bankruptcies, job losses, personal sorrows of stressed families, and all round tighter pockets. The premise for green jobs is fairly easy to explain: they say that carbon emissions are causing global warming, and those have to abate. Enter technologies that produce less CO2, and the government provides incentives for cleaner air and new wind and solar facilities. Sounds great! N’est-ce pas?

In reality, the call for even more industrialization rarely promotes good health on and of the planet. The wind industry is mired in cement (a huge contributor to CO2 emissions), turbines are constructed in factories using petrochemicals and metals, high energy consumption in tow, the product is transported via air or sea or land across vast distances using again petrochemicals and energy. Wind turbines, we are told, rarely become carbon neutral for some 20 years. Yet this industry in Ontario is promoted widely as “green” even by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, David Suzuki Foundation, World Wildlife Foundation, and having the potential to rescue our other polluting endeavours, coal and nuclear to name a few. BTW no single coal fired plant has closed in the world since the inception of wind power. Wind is intermittent, and one must always have a backup source.

Hand: South Haven 1

Hand: South Haven 1

It is a total myth. Political hype, driven by the need for political machines to survive recessions.

In Spain, where wind turbines have been king for a number of years (one of the largest wind economies in the world), huge subsidies have pushed the turbines into reality, and there is now a call for a cessation to subsidies and those feed in tariffs: the REAL economy based on wind is now EXPORTING the technology. In Denmark, the showcase for wind power internationally, the BWEA (British Wind Energy Association) states that it now gets “20% of its electricity from wind turbines…” Actually, when studied more closely, the actual average for the entire country, not just a section of the country, is c.13% from wind. Details like this abound in Dr. John Etheringon’s new release, “The Wind Farm Scam.” In another quote from Etherington’s new book, “US Physicist Howard Hayden rightly remarked some years ago: The little country Denmark has made a name in recent years with their wind turbines. No, they don’t produce much electricity, they sell them to suckers!”

Each wind industry job created in Spain really required a subsidy: a whopping subsidy of apparently about 1.4 $million. And other studies show that the average subsidy cost for “green jobs,” EACH ONE, was over $700,000! Talk about expensive power. And then the reality that for each so called green job produced, another 2.2 jobs were lost in other important sectors of the economy. Spain lost another 110,000 jobs in the economy all round. Some reports suggest that the cost of adding renewable energy to the market of carbon based energy amounted to about $10 billion over eight years! This information has been on You Tube and widely circulated.

The “green” mythology that the wind industry promises is just that. Not that your Ontario government will tell you so…or again, perhaps they do not know themselves that this promise is a chimera. Hard to believe, but asking around, folks tell me it is so.

The Toronto Star recently outlined George Smitherman’s (Minister of Energy and Infrastructure for Ontario) new deal with Samsung, most likely non-tendered, to promote “green jobs” and manufacturing projects that would be far-reaching for the Ontario economy…an “historic agreement” they called it, one that would move Ontario into a front-runner position in renewable energy and “green jobs.” Given the above research, and knowing that the gold rush is clearly “ON” in Ontario, and with the go ahead signals given by the province passing the “Green Energy Act,” we can feel certain that a) the cost to the consumer of power will rise exponentially, some say two to four times, and b) there will be more smothering of democratic process by Smitherman and the Premier. I am sure these events are unfolding across America as well. “If passed (The Green Energy Act, recently it was passed), it will propel Ontario forward to be the North American green energy leader,” he said. “With this single bold move, we join global green power leaders like Denmark, Germany and Spain.” (Toronto Star, October 6 2009) In reality, The Green Energy Act, like many laws being reformed around the world currently to facilitate wind and solar projects, will snuffle and stifle community input, and pave the roads for the wind producers. These are very scary little laws! Personally, I am quite terrified when Smitherman tells us we will be in league with Denmark, Germany and Spain.

Basically, there is no such thing as “green jobs.” Industry is never green. True environmental criteria are always missing from “green jobs. Green jobs is a mechanized way of delivering yet more technologies, this one mired in cement, and more petrochemicals, to unsuspecting societies. We can “imagine” a transformation of our society. And that is where it rests. In our imagination.

Secondly, there is the idea out there that “green jobs” will promote stability and optimistic good times. Especially profound for governments to promote when their regions, States, Provinces are falling into hopeless numbers of job losses and shifting economies with little stability. Another myth.

Thirdly, and there are so many more myths, but these can suffice, your personal wish list for “green jobs” that clean up the air, close down coal fired plants, and generally increase your sense of a reformed society, is a total myth as pertaining to the wind industry. Remember, it is again an industry. Add these to Lakes, shorelines, farmers’ fields in Saskatchewan or Kincardine, along the passes of Altamont, and you are still applying an industry to a landscape and waterscape that really require to be left alone to manage themselves. The wind industry will never create for us an ecotopia.

It is really not science to try to transform the environment into a common good, a greener, cleaner place, with “green jobs.” After all, it is merely politics.

Reading the papers in Toronto these days reminds me of Dr Flora Roy’s (one of my beloved English profs) comments so often in fourth year at Wilfrid Laurier U. She said, “I don’t read the papers anymore. I read other fiction.” Smitherman brags that he is “taking Ontario to the front of the pack.” Ouch.

(BTW up here in Ontario there are some who are calling Smitherman, Minister “Slitherman.” Honestly. And calling hotly for his resignation over an E-Health scandal that predates his currently evolving wind turbine debacle.)

There is no question that land based or water based, there are myth busters that need to be applied to the turbine industry. I can’t even use the word, “farm” about it anymore: Too bucolic. To allow this array of economic and environmental destruction into our Great Lakes will be a tragedy that many generations will regret, both sides of the border.

Comments

I have appreciated your comments about “green jobs”

Submitted by Alan Maki on Tue, 10/20/2009 – 11:33.

Your comments about “green” jobs and industries is very welcome and caused me to re-think this entire topic.

Without input such as you have provided it is very difficult to distinguish between what is being hyped for corporate profits and what is good for people and compatible with our living environment.

I don’t agree with you completely about wind-generated energy, but I do think there are a lot of things not being considered because of the way this is being shoved down our throats, just like everything else, without a full and open discussion including views such as you have put forward here.

Again, thanks for having the courage to say your piece in the public square. If more people would follow your example, people, rather than corporations, would become a real part of the decision-making process once and for all.

I have appreciated

Submitted by Sherri Lange on Tue, 10/20/2009 – 13:43.

Thanks so much for your liberal mind set! It takes all of us brainstorming together to find out the real facts about wind and real conservation and real environmentalism. I’ve blurbed and blogged a few marginally unsettling ideas this past week, and you’ve done the same with your response at a few instances. This is wonderful, to my view, that folks can share their explorations and findings and with the world at large. I really agreed, BTW, with your encouragement of cross-border affiliations and laws to protect the Great Lakes both sides! ( Dave Dempsey’s essay) There are so many borders that not just one country can tackle all the angles…it might end up piece-meal and all of the US’s best efforts could be diluted re border non-commitments.

You are also right about decisions being made behind closed doors. I was at a seminar last evening with Norm Rubin of Energy Probe, and he was most enlightening about the powers that shape our “democracy” and how pricing of energy is totally designed (without much sensibility about much other than profit) by a few movers and shakers, and those often without a knowledge base that would suggest they might have that authority naturally. It is scary.

We have some good news as of yesterday in Ontario! Environmental lawyer, Eric Gillespie, is challenging the Green Energy Act on health reasons and wind turbines, via a Full Judicial Review, as so many have reported health consequences of living too near turbines in the province. His call is not only for a moratorium on new projects, but also on existing projects! This is huge. Dr. Robert McMurtry and a noise specialist were on board to augment his arguments. Democracy appears to need the courts these days!

Thanks again for your cogent commentary.

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