The bandwagon doesn’t always carry the answer


Let’s talk wind power. Have you visited a wind farm? They are not environmentally friendly, as migrating birds know all too well. In Ontario, they are put in the wrong places, and then the government has to subsidize their operation, while the locals who live around them develop health problems.

 David Grainger, National Post

Well, it looks like I kicked a hornet’s nest again, so here are a few quick answers to a whole bunch of criticisms from my last column just to keep the hornets circling.  First, I was an environmentalist, literally lying in front of bulldozers long before it became trendy. I ran sanctuaries for injured wildlife, worked in zoos and sat on the board of an organization dedicated to researching and saving humpback whales in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

That is a very short biography of my environmental activities.

I do not think internal-combustion engines should be glorified — I think they are a horrendously bad idea. Yes, I customize cars, but I would love to have people come to me to create energy-efficient, reengined 1957 Chevrolets instead of 427-cubic-inch gas monsters. They don’t. Fortunately, these cars are driven very sparingly for the most part, so they have less impact on the environment than a Prius being used for a 70-kilometre commute twice a day.

Now, I would love electric cars if I thought they were the salvation of the Earth. I don’t and they are not. Actually, no cars at all would be the salvation of the Earth.

It would take far more room than I have in my column to answer all the questions and barbs thrown, and I would love to reprint some letters in their entirety, but I can’t. Still, after a few hours of researching the problem in depth and being quite willing to be proved wrong, this is what I have discovered. I will make a few points ending in what I think would really arrest and back up global warming, so we can then tackle pollution and overpopulation.

The electrical power grid in use is grossly inefficient, and huge amounts of electricity just disappear between generation and use. Fifty-one per cent of power generation in the United States is from coal-fired plants, with more plants planned — many more. Only approximately 13% of the energy released from coal will make it to the socket into which you plug your car. It will take approximately 21 kilograms of coal to create one charge for an electric car such as the new Chevrolet Volt. It can take up to 15 kg of coal to create the usable energy of a gallon of gasoline depending on the infrastructure. You also have to mine and process the coal and then dispose of the cinders, plus you all know how environmentally friendly coal mining is.

Let’s talk wind power. Have you visited a wind farm? They are not environmentally friendly, as migrating birds know all too well. In Ontario, they are put in the wrong places, and then the government has to subsidize their operation, while the locals who live around them develop health problems.

How about tidal generation used to produce electricity? So far, like most solutions, it’s still science-fiction. Name me one city in the world powered by tidal generation, despite most big cities being located by seashores.

Now, solar power: If we all lived in New Mexico, it might be a solution. But unless you are a bit potty, I dare you to live in a solar-powered house in Northern Ontario. It’s rarely efficient if you have clouds in your area, and it’s also very expensive. Plus, solar panels require materials mined from the ground all over the world, which means ships and trucks and trains that are — for the most part — too big to derive any benefit from solar power.

Batteries for electric cars: Yes, the technology is definitely improving, but the bar is not set that high and yet it takes a Herculean scientific effort to invent better batteries. They are also horrendously expensive and manufacturing is still limited by materials availability even with low numbers of cars being produced. One critic said that after a car’s lithium batteries (which are not perfected or available yet) are done with, they can be banked with other almost-dead batteries to create a storage system for other uses. That is a lot of batteries for which a whole new infrastructure needs to be created. It sort of makes creating a hydrogen supply infrastructure look easy.

Anyone who thinks the local mall will want to install charging stations for cars needs to visit a golf course and take a look at the charging system for golf karts. Complicated just doesn’t describe it adequately.

There are dozens more points but no room to articulate them, so I will press on.

I don’t think hydrogen-powered vehicles are a whole lot better; they are just a little better. They have problems all of their own, so let’s forget them, too.

So, here is a real solution that does not depend on blind faith, imperfect science or science-fiction for implementation and can be implemented almost immediately. Live close to work. Stop sitting in an idling car wasting your life and the planet’s resources for two or three hours a day.

Buy a new car once every 10 years. Insist that manufacturers make cars that last 10 years. Don’t buy cars as status symbols, buy them as transportation. (Yes, I know I’m a hypocrite, but it comes with being human.)

Fight against your biological programming and buy the car with the smallest engine, not the largest. (I already said I am a hypocrite, but I live only four minutes from work.)

If you have to commute a long distance to work, car pool, for crying out loud — there has to be somebody who will ride with you.

Insist that the things you buy can be fixed rather than require replacement–and this applies to everything, not just cars.

Be willing to pay a little more for things made by your neighbours (especially cars), rather than people thousands of kilometres away whose governments’ environmental policies you cannot vote on. (And neither can they, sometimes.)

Stop politicians and car companies from jumping on to every green wagon that happens by, unless it can be proven to actually make a difference.

Quite a few writers have commented that electrical cars can be 30% more efficient than gasoline cars. Having researched this even more extensively, I am now not so sure of that. Even if it is true, I will leave you with this thought–a .32-calibre bullet is approximately 30% smaller than a .45-calibre bullet, but it kills you just as easily when it passes through your brain.

14 thoughts on “The bandwagon doesn’t always carry the answer

  1. A more intelligently written article I have not read in a LONG time!


  2. So, if the U.S. is planning to build more coal power plants (he says “lots more”) everything the Ontario government is doing to get “off dirty coal” is for absolutely NOTHING since 90% of the pollution we do have comes from south of the border.

  3. A delightful, and insightful article.

    This was the top of my news search this morning, but I’ll also note the head of the IESO board has moved over to chair the OPA. I’ve noted many times the IESO appears to disregard wind supply, and I have some hope Mr. Hinds will bring some sanity to the OPA.

  4. Thank you for this great article. Yes if everyone would just think a little more about what they are doing and buying. We are all intelligent people and don’t need the government dictating to us how to conserve. When the hydro bill comes in and they are high due to our usage we can make a smart decision and turn off lights and so on. Also if we could harness all the hot air in parliament think of all the homes we could heat. Yes I have been to a wind farm and I agree with you on your point about the farms.

  5. Why do people support wind farms and screwy environmental projects? Dare I say theta the MSM misinforms people on environmental issues? Why are the seats on the Environmental Bandwagon so uncomfortable?

    For example this article — promoting Carbon Pricing:–hamilton-lack-of-carbon-pricing-hurting-innovation

    “In the U.S., President Barack Obama had his hands tied on the energy and climate file by an obstructive Congress led by Republicans. Given this situation, the Chicago Climate Exchange – the only national carbon cap-and-trade exchange in the United States – decided to close down shop. Can you blame them?”

    The Democrats were (and still are) the Majority till Mid-January — same in the US senate.

    “But the patient is both paralyzed and comatose. This week, during climate talks in Cancun, an international report by research organization Germanwatch ranked Canada 54th out of 57 countries measured by their climate-change fighting efforts.”

    Of course the same group praised China. China is constructing two coal fired power plants every week.

    “New technologies are giving us ways to reuse carbon dioxide, whether as an ingredient in the making of new products or as a nutrient for growing biofuel-producing algae.”

    Almost all living things use CO2. New technologies are not required. So keep breathing folks.

    “Clearly, the amount of innovation emerging in the marketplace is staggering. Unfortunately, none of these technologies will find a welcoming market if the Canadian and U.S. governments don’t move to establish a price on carbon, whether through a cap-and-trade program or – even more wishful thinking – a carbon tax.”

    Which means that they are un-economic and wasteful without pouring in tax dollars.

    “If there’s any finger movement coming from the federal government it’s the middle one.”

    Really? Sounds treasonous to me! 😉

    The environmental bandwagon can be a good thing. Unfortunately the reins of power and direction are often handed to the village idiots. The course of the journey then becomes unpredictable — perhaps pointless.

  6. Just to remind you there are some scholarly treatments of Village Idiots and their function in Modern Society. I present a modest example by Monty Python. This is an example of the program at The University of East Anglia.


    The University of East Anglia became famous due the the Climategate Scandal and the housing of the Climate Research Unit (CRU). The CRU is where they mis-housed and abused the world temperature records. The records were analyzed in such a ways as to highlight the need for Wind Turbines and more Alternate Energy. (Perhaps a congratulatory note to the dean would be in order.)

    Whether the Red Star hires graduates of this far reaching program is simply unknown at this time, however, recent speculation has lead to belief that there could be a connection based on Prime Component Analysis (PCA) of the various story themes and the statistical records of their appearances in the likes of the aforementioned authors bylines.

    Further research is urgently needed and funding for this project is being sought and promoted as we speak.

  7. “Stop politicians and car companies from jumping on to every green wagon that happens by, unless it can be proven to actually make a difference.”

    This quote from the above article is of course common sense and should be a “no brainer” but I would ask “HOW?”…………………

    When Politicians are as corrupt and treasonous as we are now witnessing and car companies are in their “back pockets” how on earth can the populace STOP a “greed conglomerate” like our present Liberal Government from raping and dismantling our once great Province?

    Of course the only answer we keep hearing from the masses is “wait until election time”!…..HA……..and what do we get then………………..A new face but same old song!

  8. Toledo Blade,Dec.7,10
    “Lake Erie Wind Turbines costly,inefficient”

    Lake Erie piolot project of 5 turbines to be built. If this is succeeds 1200 turbines will be built at a cost of $ 31 billion. During the 20 years turbine life state and local governments will collect $ 587 million in tax revenues with each job costing $975,000 to create.

    Thus the initial $ 31 billion investment would not be recovered by taxes,excluding interest payments,for 1,050 years.

    Cost of electricity from offshore turbines is expected to be 23 cents per kilowatt hour.

    After the 30-40 years useful turbine life $ 30 billion would still be owed on the project.

    Wind turbines also planned for the Canadian side of Lake Erie. How much will they cost here?

    All paid for by the people. Energy poverty anyone?

  9. Jump on this bandwagon…

    Update on the Village Idiot Convention — it has been located in Cancun!


    Readers may remember this famous Penn and Teller video from 2006 where they get well meaning (but non thinking) people to sign up to ban “dihydrogen monoxide” (DHMO), which is an “evil” chemical found in our lakes, rivers, oceans, and even our food!

    Yeah, they signed up to ban water. Now watch the video from the Cancun climate conference, you’d think some of these folks would have enough science background (from their work in complex climate issues) to realize what they are signing, but sadly, no.

    REMEMBER! These are the people pushing alternative energy. Wind Turbines. Solar Panels, Bio-Diesel and are shocked when the numbers don’t work. They are innumerate, functionally illiterate and motivated by religion of the worst sort — a cult-like beli8ef in their leaders.

  10. The milage standards were imposed by the U.S. Congress on our domestic car companies. This why we lost so much of the market as this favoured the foreign auto makers.

    Henry Ford,2nd predicted this would happen when we started down this road to unreasonable “green” demands on U.S. auto makers.

    Probably the measures that will come out of Cancun were already “cooked up” well before the Cancun gathering by the major players in this global warming/climate change scam. This is just a “dog & pony” show for the general public and the MSM.

  11. Although I would never discourage anyone from calling a radio talk show – if they were so inclined – I am disturbed by the tone of this “call to action”.

    People who are suffering the ill effects of LFN and infrSound torture are not “on display” for the likes of Scott Thompson! This is not a zoo – where he gets to go round and throw pieces of popcorn at real, live, victims to see how they react!

    There is plenty of information available, even for a radio talk show host, to become informed – a little old-fashioned research would tell him a lot. Perhaps then, instead of displaying such an arrogant attitude suggesting that HE is the most important thing suffering people have to worry about in their day – he would show a little compassion.

    The comment “where are these victims…why won’t they call me?” is a rudely, dressed-up declaration that they “don’t really exist – if they did, they couldn’t resist calling someone as important as me?”

    I got news for ya Scott – to put things into perspective, ya just aren’t that important!

  12. My daughter and I have been shoved into line to be on the receiving end of a wind project proposed to commence this spring across the road from our home. We have been absorbing all the information available to us through the internet. Until recently, we were bound to dial up, being in a rural area that hasn’t access to cable. If I did not have the wireless internet we now use, we wouldn’t have been able to educate ourselves as we have. We wouldn’t have read the countless articles or been able to view videos available online. There are many rural people in this situation. The radio is an excellent opportunity to reach them, and those who still believe the computer phase will blow over.

    And even with all of the information available, I feel I need to hear for myself, from someone who has lived next to IWT’s, what our lives will become. And this has nothing to do with wanting to see anyone on display. I respect and understand the positions your comments are taking in the defense of the victims. But by this time next year, I will be one of them, and so will my daughter, our 2 dogs and our 3 horses, and we want to hear what lies ahead for us. We are upset. We are scared. We have lost faith in so many ways. We feel we will become prisoners of IWT’s. We are ready to fight, not just for our own quality of life, but for those of our fellow rural neighbours throughout Ontario and the world.

    I understand if they do not want to be subjected to a radio interview. However if anyone does chose to call please know that there are many compassionate ears in your corner.

  13. Thanks Louise,

    Can’t hide this wind turbine situation from urban Ontario folks much longer.

  14. I can absolutely assure you I have nothing but compassion for the victims of these monstrosities. Having had the privelege of meeting Stephana Johnston has cemented my belief that this entire situation is immoral, unethical, inhuman and un-Canadian. Unfortunately people are what they are…if they cannot “see you”, they do not believe you exist. And while it is grossly unfair for the victims to be “paraded” out in front of the public, open to ridicule from strangers, for every “jerk” they have the misfortune of dealing with in these talk show situations, there is the potential for another supporter. Please understand that that is the only reason we are asking people to call in to this radio show…the more support we get to put a moratorium on these things, the closer we get to accomplishing that goal. I know for myself, as a retired member of the Canadian Forces, if someone had told me years ago that anywhere in Canada people would be pleading with their provincial government to stop putting people in harms way, I would have laughed them right out of my home and reminded them that they live in Canda where things like that just don’t happen….yet here we are. I don’t know when it became “okay” to put citizens and their homes in harms way in this country….I just know that the more we make noise, the more chance we have of stopping it…the victims of this situation are the REAL voices…as difficult for them as it is, we need them to keep speaking.

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