Day 7:Final Day, Wind Turbine Week for Ellen
Posted by admin on 29 Nov 2009 at 12:10 am | Tagged as: Uncategorized
I’m glad I did this. Meeting people who are experiencing the downside of wind power has taught me some important points which will help me direct my enthusiasm for wind energy in future.
What I did for my time in Clear Creek was in fact a respected form of research. I did not ask a large group of people the same questions and then crunch the numbers representing their answers. Nor was I a participant-observer, because I did not keep track of what I learned while simultaneously living as the local residents do. I’m not employed in Norfolk County, nor was I living there as, for example, a stay-at-home parent or a retiree. I didn’t shop locally – my hostess cooked up a storm every day. What I did was qualitative, contextual research.
Here are some highlights of what I learned.
Local control and local benefit are missing. The Clear Creek residents I met explained that a multinational corporation owns the turbines, which are controlled remotely in the U.S.; 75% of the profits leave Canada. A believer in local community resiliency, I find this tough to take. And in this context, it would be interesting to know the nature and extent of any Canadian federal, provincial and/or local subsidies and/or grants that have been provided, and to whom.
People’s lives have been changed in a number of ways. Just one example: the immediate area has long been known as a route for migratory birds. Sometimes, huge numbers have settled briefly on the cropped corn stubble, picking over kernels left behind. Now, residents who say watching the birds fly over had long been a personal pleasure report that they see birds approach overhead, then turn back to fly elsewhere.
Area residents have formed a group, Norfolk Victims of Industrial Wind Turbines; members communicate with Wind Concerns Ontario, which connects similar groups in other areas of the province. Some area residents don’t participate because they approve of the turbines, or have no opinion, as they feel no ill effects personally. Others refuse to participate even though, privately, they cite negative experiences since the turbines began rotating a year ago, in November, 2008.
These ill effects include headaches, dizziness (in some cases leading to falling), impaired hearing, a feeling of stuffy ears and/or pressure, sleep disturbances, feeling tired, and difficulty concentrating and maintaining one’s train of thought. How did I feel? I slept wonderfully, never felt dizzy. Forthcoming residents noted that their problems did not develop immediately after the turbines were turned on last year, and that it took each of them a while to wonder whether the turbines might be causing their problems. We all realized that the day mid-week when the turbines were still, because there wasn’t any noticeable wind, meant whatever I might be experiencing would be perforce less cumulative.
For some of yesterday, I had a headache. That highlighted the research challenge. Was it a low pressure weather system? Or was I a little carsick? Might I be reacting to a visit to a neighbour who lives in a lovely hollow, where the turbine effect is said to be different? Or had the low-frequency vibrations started affecting me? Without proper measurement and recording, we can’t know the answer.
And then there’s the power of suggestion. Both yesterday and today, a few times my ears felt plugged up, briefly. Ordinarily, if that happened (and it has), I’d think, “Hmmm … it’ll likely go away in a minute,” (and it has). There, I thought, “Hmmm … the turbines?”
Some research has been done. Careful, thorough research on specific concerns that have developed in areas with industrial turbines installed is needed, and designing reliable studies that will be useful in making public policy decisions will not be easy. One particular challenge, one that public policy-makers don’t often deal with well, is evaluating and coping fairly and responsibly with unintended consequences.
We were all up plenty close and personal with these behemoths. Someone asked me if I’d touched one. That had never occurred to me. On the way home, I got out of the car and did so, noticing that I heard the rhythmic whooshing everywhere nearby, but not directly under the turning blades. Through my hand on the column, I definitely felt small, rapid vibrations, not at all the same speed as the blades.
Finally, just one of my hostess’s delicious recipes: mix plain yogurt with cut-up seasonal fruit (unpeeled apples and pears, halved fresh mandarin orange sections, banana chunks); top with large-flake oats and dried cranberries.
As one of the Clear Creek residents I would like to thank you and congratulate you for being the first politician who actually made a real effort to see and listen to the victims side first hand.
We’re glad you did this, too.
With the far more serious matter of microwave towers, there is a cumulative effect (if some notice immediately), as there is a symptomatic lag after distancing from the offending source (if some are immediately relieved). It is to be expected that something similar pertains for hideous, needlessly gargantuan wind turbines.
Wildlife know to flee, shouldn’t humans?
It is time for local citizens to no longer abdicate suffering what is a different kind of pain, but a necessary one we now see in the aftermath of modernist grandiosities. That is the pain of having to re-involve oneself in democractic governance, in paying close attention, and holding to account. It is the pain of owning up to having to scale back things taken for granted, and to apply simple rationality to re-assess what is taken for granted.
That the headlong rush to install overly large wind turbines is not really “green” can be a hard one for aspiring “Greens” to accept. But it is only unacceptable if many aspects of “green” thought, versus piecemeal sentiment and limited focus rationality, are not taken seriously.
Maybe hundreds of tiny vawts would have net performance as one monstrous hawt, or thousands for several. Wouldn’t their price plummet with mass purchase arrangements? Maybe a serious audit of electrical needs would show that that could be drastically scaled back. It’s even possible lives would be unexpectedly enhanced, and not in mere avoidance of what’s complained about now for proximity to large wind turbines.
Maybe rural residents would have a less difficult time overcoming the culture of separation and community breakup connected with 20th century “solutions”. Coming together in new-old ways is unavoidable to address these matters.
Otherwise the only coming together will continue to be mostly ineffectual and sporadic in trying to belatedly push back at yet more selfishly unthinking depredation.
I too congratulate on your efforts, it has I am sure been a learning experience and you seem to have taken that on with an open mind,. Setting aside my thoughts for the possible need for nuclear power at least in the near term and the viability of wind power to replace that capacity, I would like to highlight some of the important thing learned here that rural folks, and those impacted by “wind farms” already know.
“Local control and local benefit are missing.” Local municipalities did have SOME control until recently but the “green energy act” all but eliminated any input that local residents could have vis their local councils, that the EP provisions were also short circuited makes this even more troubling.
“People’s lives have been changed in a number of ways” I do not know personally how these industrial installations affect the nearby residents but there is little doubt that they do, the reluctance of government and the various agencies concerned to actually investigate EXACTLY what these impacts are does us all a disservice. We do indeed need.
“Careful, thorough research on specific concerns”.
A recent meeting in our area presented by the area board of health degenerated into disarray when the health department said that it had no input into the heath impacts of such installations and no budget to do any research on such,. What is wrong with that picture?
“Without proper measurement and recording, we can’t know the answer.” Exacty, see above!
Daryl said – “Maybe hundreds of tiny vawts would have net performance as one monstrous hawt, or thousands for several.” That would be nice but we as individual consumers will never get the financial input that these (often multinational) companies are getting (40 – 80 c per Kwh), I suspect that as our hydro bills increase we will all see self generation in one form or another as more “affordable”!
‘Maybe rural residents would have a less difficult time overcoming the culture of separation and community breakup connected with 20th century “solutions”.’ And that’s the bottom line, don’t “force” these things on rural areas for the benefit of mostly urban users. It’s a shared responsibility, just because our voice is almost drowned beneath the cacophony from the city does not mean we should not be heard.
Respectfully “Rural” one of the rural minority.
Hey, Rural (and hoping Ellen doesn’t mind my going on here a bit after abandoning disappointed the Green Party’s blogsite after several years’ contributions…).
I won’t argue the nuclear business here, except to maybe point out even far worse modernist gargantuism, pardon my fancy-ugly words, and note that I did much anti-nuclear blogging at that abandoned site.
I believe perhaps THE fundamental error concerns financial arrangement. It is precisely THERE, with energy provision as entry and reference point, that localities can come together and PARTIALLY monetize in their own way for SOME of there own provisions. Playing into hurried monied hands and their hand-holders among government and regulators, assuming that all must be financed in the status quo way is a fundamental error. To flourish, localized currencies need something like a local government accepting tax payments in that currency, as many participating retailers and suppliers as possible, but maybe biggest of all would be what everyone needs at least a modest measure of, electricity. Once there is at least a conceptual extrication from the domineering money system when it needlessly intrudes on local service provision, all sorts of creative and more locally democratic responses might ensue.
Who needs $ controlled from afar dictating plenty or scarcity when much of what we need is close to home & there are many locals ready to fill the needs? As national currencies undergo their demise before our eyes, more minds will turn to REAL localized solutions, leaving the debt-based economy for where it makes sense, where risk for things like trade at long distance are involved.
It is for example absurd that Toronto inside workers went on strike for so little, and locals gripe about public transit fares rising, such needless acrimony when a little creative thought and local togetherness would opt out of the squeeze that financial overlords needlessly put on us all.
I would like to get your thoughts on this article: Location, Location, Location…Migration, Migration, Migration
One matter the article is very clear on: the importance to Ontario, and the thrill for every birder, of birding in Ontario. I remember hearing Margaret Atwood ask an audience, back in 2000, which the fastest-growing sport in Ontario was. The answer was birding. I am a slow learner – a cousin is helping me – and I have already had some exciting experiences.
I appealed to Margaret Atwood and her husband Graeme three years ago on this issue. I was dismissed. Seems to me a terrible hypocrisy to site thousands of industrial wind turbines in the most important migration paths in Canada. Ellen, you seem to be avoiding the essence of what the article is saying.
Hello again, Moe – I have studied the whole article again, and have been unsuccessful in finding anything about who wrote it. Perhaps the first page does not show up properly for me when I click on the link.