Residents try to protect their little part of the planet from clean-energy windmills
On Wednesday evening, as part of a panel of energy insiders, I spoke in Toronto’s financial district before an audience of some 150, most of them professionals interested in the clean-energy industry. On Thursday evening, I spoke to some 300 of their victims, in a school auditorium in a residential neighbourhood 15 miles away.
The elite gathering, held in the Grand Banking Hall of One King West Hotel & Residence, was organized by Corporate Knights, a magazine dedicated to “clean capitalism,” and funded by Enbridge, an $18-billion energy company keen to capture a share of the government-sponsored clean technology business (clean energy is chiefly wind, solar, biomass, and other government-subsidized energy technologies). Geared to making Canada a green-energy superpower, the event was billed as “an evening of constructive dialogue on the economy, energy and the environment,” and that it was. I especially felt constructive in bringing news to the assembly that the prospects for a low-carbon green economy were crumbling. Earlier that day, the EU had announced it was putting further carbon dioxide cuts on hold. Its announcement followed like decisions one day earlier by Germany and France, whose announcements followed blockbuster news from Spain the previous week.
“Spain admits that the green economy as sold to Obama is a disaster,” read the headline in La Gaceta, a Spanish business newspaper that reported a leaked internal Cabinet document in a full-page article (Obama has often cited Spain as a model Green Economy). The Cabinet document indicated that more than two jobs were lost for every green job created, that the country’s spending binge on renewables had made Spain a high-electricity-cost country, and that Spanish businesses now faced electricity costs 17% higher than the European average. Thanks to the green economy, Spain has Europe’s highest unemployment rate, at 20%, and is now staring at bankruptcy.
More constructive news from me: Australia last month abandoned its cap and trade plan, and the U.S. cap and trade plan is going nowhere. In all these countries, the shoddiness of the scientific claims linking man to dangerous climate change has finally been publicized, thanks to the release of the Climategate emails which showed that scientists had cooked the books on climate change. With public belief in man-made global warming tanking around the world, politicians have begun to run for cover. Countries everywhere are bailing out of their CO2-reduction plans.
Except in Canada, where many in the press and public, and especially in the elites, have not yet heard the news. The other panellists on the stage with me Wednesday evening — a vice-president at CIBC who lends money to government-backed clean energy projects; the head of Cleantech at MaRS, a government-funded centre that promotes government funding of technology; and executives at Earnscliffe and Navigant, top consulting companies — all spoke to the ways and means of transforming society. Some touted the moral imperative to combat man-made global warming, some the need to do what’s right for society, some the steps required to ethically build a less consumptive, more ascetic society of the future.
I met some of the residents slated to inhabit the Brave New World of these panellists the following evening, in an iconic area on the outskirts of Toronto known as the Scarborough Bluffs. The water off this stretch of cliff along Lake Ontario is among the many sites slated for industrial wind turbines. To protect this little part of their planet, which ironically had been carved out when global warming ended the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago, residents came out in their hundreds. Some objected to the visual intrusion of 400-foot high windmills in the natural environment, some feared the noise and possible health effects associated with wind turbines, some worried about the wind turbines’ effect on their property values. None understood why the Ontario government was imposing these monstrosities on them, or why it had taken such extraordinary steps to complete the imposition: To see to the construction of wind and other so-called clean technologies, the Ontario government passed legislation to both provide billions in subsidies for technologies without economic merit and to deny communities their traditional rights to control local developments.
The plight of the residents, in fact, has a ready explanation. In part — a lesser part — it stems from the high-sounding rhetoric of the elite panellists, magnified in an echo chamber populated by legions of fellow elites, the overwhelming majority of whom have accepted the global-warming hypothesis unquestioningly, despite an abject paucity of compelling evidence. The other part of the explanation — the greater part — stems from the residents having unquestioningly accepted the same hypothesis. Fortunately, a remedy for the residents, and for the populace at large, is readily available: Follow the rest of the world and challenge the science.