The Star, April 22, 2012
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What won’t people do to keep wind turbines out of their backyard, or somewhere farther away from their backyard, or a greater distance than that?
People who live near Collingwood, Ont., will travel beyond ridicule and into public humiliation so that someone else will have to stare at the tall white structures that create clean energy. They are building tiny little houses in a planned wind farm’s mapped-out path in order to invoke and abuse the regulations that keep the turbines 550 metres away from private homes.
Seriously, several Clearview Township residents are building birdhouses to human size, with electricity, running water and a septic system, to preserve their pristine view, the Star has reported. The itty-bitty homes look like slave quarters on a plantation.
And in light of the terrible lack of affordable rental housing in Toronto, it does grind country dirt in the faces of Ontarians to know that there are homes available but only for the esthetic assistance of wealthy rural residents with no thought to the future.
We humans have no idea how we will cope with climate change. If we think our missing winters and painfully uncomfortable summers are weird now, imagine life in 40 years. The Ontario government is indeed trying to imagine it. They’re preparing for the future, which is the greatest task of all governments. Green energy has to start somewhere.
They can’t go on the horizon of Lake Ontario, city dwellers having declared themselves offended by the sight of the elegant towers with their extended starfish arms. And now they can’t go in the countryside because cranky localtons are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars planting little Monopoly houses in their way.
I look at a photo of three Clearview elders, Kevin Elwood, Michael Dickinson and Chuck Magwood, posing in front of a fake houselet like farmers in Grant Wood’s 1930 American Gothic. All that’s missing is a pitchfork. The pinched expressions are the same.
And yes, Magwood is the man who was in charge of building the Rogers Centre, Toronto’s biggest concrete eyesore and a concert venue so clanging that it turns all music into a wall of sound. From huts to hangars, this man irritates me.
“I don’t like what they look like,” Magwood says of wind farms. “I don’t like the political game plan. And the economic model is a joke.”
Elwood, a tree farmer and commercial pilot, doesn’t like the turbines interfering with the flight path on his private landing strip. It’s risky, he says.
“They’re trying to ram it down the wrong people’s throats,” says Dickinson, charmingly. Hey, you turbines, get off my lawn!
These men will be long dead by the time climate change begins to make human life crushingly difficult. I will be in my grave as well. But the point about 2050 isn’t coffin-dodgers like us. It’s the billions alive and yet to be born, desperate for water, coolness, energy, food and respite.
What is to be done? I ask this in despair and anger. Six of the eight turbines in the proposed wind farm development will be on the land of a good man named John Beattie. He’s thinking of the future. Someone has to.
“I will do whatever I can to help save the planet for my children and grandchildren,” he told the Star. “I am proud to be part of a green energy project. And if more green energy projects come along, I will jump into them with both feet.”
It stirs my soul to hear Beattie’s words, such a change from standard-issue NIMBYism. How we fool ourselves, as if our resolute wrecking of our children’s future is some kind of guarantee that we will live forever in endless moneyed comfort.
It won’t work out that way. We live inside a planetary dome. It will grow hotter and hotter in those turbine-hostile dollhouses. If only their owners were forced to actually live in them, a Big Brother test case of how well — or how badly — we’ll endure a pressure-cooked future.