Friday, 7 December 2012

Wind supporter takes shot at wind fighters

Wind supporter takes shot at wind fighters
The Kincardine News
Dear Editor,
Our family attended several council meetings in the past because we truly care about our community and the many issues that determine our future.
My children do not really like to come because of the hostile behaviour from some citizens and propaganda language being used when it comes to wind energy.
They know that the term "industrial" as an adjective for wind turbines is the result of a series of focus groups financed by one of the Koch brothers as part of his opposition to a proposed offshore wind project near Cape Cod.
At times we too feel misrepresented by our council and citizen representative but that is part of the process in real life.
To attack a fellow citizen in public is just another step to divide our community.
Please pick up the phone or even better go to the person that you feel has done something wrong and speak directly to him or her in a civil and rational manner. I know from experience that it can resolve many misunderstandings and lead to a better society.
There were times when I felt as though the radio might be the safest way for me to express my views about renewable energy. Many friends of wind in Ontario are thinking that the greatest health hazard related to wind energy is speaking out in support for wind energy!
ReNew Canada published a comprehensive report on wind energy in Ontario last year. Its conclusion states " Wind Concerns Ontario could not adequately provide evidence to support its claims." It has used material out of context, provided facts without support, and has firmly put the burden of proof on the proponents of wind rather than having to prove its own statements."
Look at the big picture of energy options that we are being offered right now, join hands, compromise and start developing a plan together!
Jutta Splettstoesser

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Doing well by doing good

Private sector can act to cut energy use without waiting for government
Published on Monday December 03, 2012

The full story is here.

Mike Pedersen 

Moving toward a low-carbon economy was high on the agenda of policy-makers prior to the financial crisis and ensuing global recession. Priorities shifted with these events, but a series of announcements this fall suggest this shift may have been temporary.
Ottawa announced it is making progress in meeting the carbon emission targets set out by the Copenhagen accord. The British government launched the world’s first investment bank with the sole purpose of “greening the U.K. economy.” And in his victory speech, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke about the “destructive power of a warming planet.” The mention was brief, but for a nation still reeling from the extreme force of Superstorm Sandy — something the mayor of New York City directly linked to climate change — the message was clear.
More pronouncements and policy discussions will follow the UN Climate Change Conference being held in Doha. Yet in the immediate term market forces continue to influence energy use. High energy costs and the slow-growth economy are motivating Canadian companies to become more energy efficient. Indeed, the Carbon Disclosure Project, which asks the country’s top 200 publicly traded companies to provide information on their emission reduction strategies, reported on 140 initiatives that generated annual savings this year — an increase of 32 per cent from the previous year. By serving their private interests, companies are also advancing the public good.
That’s been our experience at TD. Becoming the first North American-based carbon-neutral bank imposed a discipline on us to do more with less — in effect, boost our productivity. At the same time, we have reduced the amount of greenhouse gases we add to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Three strategies underpin our initiative: use less energy, use “greener” energy, and “offset” the remaining emissions with high quality carbon credits.
The second and third strategies proved to be catalysts for a number productivity gains. Simply put, the additional cost required to use greener energy or offset our emissions made the status quo too expensive. In turn the business case for achieving greater energy efficiency became more compelling.
This has led us to create “net zero” energy branches in both the U.S. and Canada that are designed to produce at least as much energy as they use. We have also implemented energy efficiency projects across our operations, including construction of a more energy-efficient data centre for our North American operations.
Overall, we have reduced our North American greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy usage by 4 per cent, even though we have increased our real estate footprint by 24 per cent. We are on target to reduce carbon by one tonne per employee by 2015 — a 28-per cent reduction from our 2008 baseline. This represents substantial cost savings.
Additionally, new revenue streams have been tapped — partly due to the expertise we have gained in reducing energy consumption and purchasing offsets.
For instance, renewable energy financing now stands at over $2 billion, and we have been able to introduce innovative small-scale renewables financing products in the retail market.
Ironically, back in 2008, our motivation to become carbon neutral was based in part on the assumption that widespread carbon pricing was imminent. Our timing was wrong, but we fortunately stuck with our conviction that the dynamic between energy and environment would eventually change the way our customers live, work and play.
Given the re-emerging interest in creating low-carbon economies, are we now in a better position to adapt to some form of carbon pricing? To be sure, we are far more familiar with both the principle and practice.
However, in Canada, policy clarity is still evolving. For example, the different provincial systems already in place can create conflicting obligations for companies.
This could impede investments in technologies critical to emission reduction, according to a paper recently produced by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives — a long-time proponent for consistent carbon pricing across the country. Echoing this position, more than 100 global corporations, including some of the world’s leading energy companies, have called on policy-makers to develop an “unambiguous global carbon price.” It’s also important to take into full account the economic impact any pricing system would have on any given region or industry, so not to place inappropriate burdens on them. Economic and environmental goals are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are integral to each other.
Yet Canadian businesses need not wait for any national plan. Nor are they. An overwhelming majority of respondents to the Climate Disclosure Project have integrated emission reduction initiatives into their business strategy. Companies can advance the public good while serving their private interests. This prolonged period of slow growth requires organizations to maximize savings to reinvest and grow. They must also find new revenue streams to offset the economic headwinds. Going carbon neutral has helped us achieve both goals through lower energy usage and operating costs, product innovation and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Mike Pedersen, Group Head Wealth Management, Insurance, & Corporate Shared Services, TD Bank Group

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Wizard from Oz

We have always admired the work of Professor Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney.  He has taken a strong stand against tobacco and is now shining a light on the effects of the fear/uncertainty/doubt (FUD) campaign being waged by many wind opponents.

His recent submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into Renewable Energy (Electricity) sums up his motivation nicely:

I have long had a scholarly interest in risk communication. In particular, I am
interested in significant, high-risk health problems which are under-rated by the
public (eg: smoking), and in low-risk putative health problems which are overrated
by some members of the public causing them to worry, panic and
sometimes express symptoms. It is my view, for reasons set out below, ["below" meaning the balance of his submission] that concerns about the health effects of wind turbines fall into the latter category.

Recently, he published an op ed piece in "The Drum", the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's on-line news channel.  You can find the full edition, including over 400 comments and active links here:

28 NOVEMBER 2012
Fanning fear: the wind farm nocebo effect


Most wind farms around the world have no history of complaints, but the few that do
have seen the local area targeted by external activists who spread panic. Simon Chapman reflects
on the nonsense claims of anti-wind farm activists.

Later today, the Senate will release the report of a committee into a Private Senators' Bill
examining the proposal that wind turbines should not be accredited if the sound emitted
exceeds 10 decibels of the background noise at any time, measured within 22 metres of a
The Bill was proposed by Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan and independent
Senator Nick Xenophon. Both have form in expressing opposition to wind farms.
Like Don Quixote who tilted at windmills, Madigan previously claimed (PDF) he was
fighting a "sinister" and "dangerous" industry and Xenophon believes turbines affect brain
No one following the latest historical example of what is quite plainly technophobic
Luddism has any doubt that the tabling will see a minority report that the proposed
standard be adopted. The bill will be defeated on party lines, with the Greens supporting
the Government. But it has provided a conduit for a Niagara of mostly boilerplate protest
material from the tiny but highly organised opponent groups.
While the bill is purportedly about noise levels in the audible spectrum, the focus of many
fear-laden submissions has been around the sub-audible low-frequency noise - infrasound -
that wind turbines (and pretty much all machines) create. While studies have shown (PDF)
that Australians living near the coast or in cities are constantly subject to far greater 'doses'
of infrasound, apparently the sort emitted by wind turbines has a special flavour that
causes a never-before-seen medical condition.
"Wind turbine syndrome" is a term coined in a self-published book by a US small town
doctor who personally opposed a wind farm proposed near her property. Tellingly, the
term does not appear once among 22 million papers indexed by PubMed, the US National
Library of Medicine's repository of peer reviewed research published in acknowledged
With now 217 diseases and symptoms claimed to be caused by exposure to the subaudible,
low frequency infrasound emitted by wind turbines - some by as little as a few
minutes exposure - there are undeniable and rhino-in-the-room size clues that complaints
are psychogenic: "communicated" diseases spread by the nocebo effect. This is where
dramatically and repeatedly suggesting to people that something is likely to make you ill,
triggers claims and sometimes symptomatic illness in a minority of people.
Most wind farms around the world and in Australia have no history of complaints, and
most of those which do, have seen the local area targeted by external anti-wind farm
activists who spread panic and tell frightened locals to report anything they might
experience to their doctor. The activist groups even provide symptom menus to assist
Wind farms have existed in Western Australia for nearly 20 years, yet no company
operating over there has ever received a health complaint. Significantly, there are no antiwind
farm group operating in the state.
By contrast, here's a case study of how complaints can get going on the east coast.
In early October 2010, residents of Leonards Hill in central Victoria were encouraged to
attend a presentation in Evansford, given by an unregistered doctor, Sarah Laurie, who has
become Australia's high priestess of wind farm anxiety. Laurie believes (PDF)that
turbulence from wind turbines can "perceptibly rock stationary cars even further than a
kilometre away from the nearest wind turbine" and told a meeting (PDF) in 2011 that
spending a night near wind turbines can cause "just about everybody ...every five or ten
minutes needing to go to the toilet."
In the same week, the Australian Environment Foundation, a deceptively named climate
change denialist group, arranged a protest meeting at the opening ceremony for the
beginning of works on a two turbine, 2,000 shareholder community-owned wind farm at
Leonards Hill, near Daylesford. Banners with "Wind farms make me sick" were prepared
and some 50 people (mostly out of towners) attended the protest, which was reported in
the local press.
In November, Laurie was reported in local newspaper The Advocate as saying "If I were
living right there I would be very concerned. I would be beside myself..." Scary stuff.
In early December 2010, the president of the Landscape Guardians told the Australian
"I've been on medication for the last five years just fighting this." The wind farm had not
even opened but the president was already worried sick.
In mid August 2011, the Ballarat Courier reported that Leonards Hill received its first
health complaint from a 57-year-old woman with sleep problems. She described the sound
of the two turbines, half a kilometre away, as at times "like a jet engine". (Like hundreds
of thousands of Sydney residents, I've lived right under the Sydney fight path for 22 years,
and I've spent time around wind farms. The comparison is nothing less than ludicrous).
The next day, the Landscape Guardians president went public as the second health
complainant about the wind farm.
Those who study the dynamics of psychogenic illness place the communication of scary
information front and centre of this psychogenic/nocebo process. Early next year, a leading
international psychology journal will publish findings of a study that will add important
new evidence to this debate.
The study took healthy volunteers and exposed some to information from the internet
designed to prime them to expect that infrasound from wind farms could make them
experience symptoms. They labelled this group the "high expectations" group. Another
group were not exposed to such information (the "low expectations" group). Both groups
were then exposed in a laboratory to both real and "sham" (fake) infrasound. The high
expectation group reported a significant increase in symptoms during both exposure
sessions, while there was no increase in symptoms reported in the low expectation group.
In Canada an anti-wind farm group took a wind company to a local tribunal, with a
cavalcade of complainants emotionally detailing their health problems. The tribunal agreed
with the wind company that the medical records of all complainants going back a decade
should be presented. These would reveal how many of the victims had a prior history of
the problems they now complained about. The case then collapsed, with the complainants
protesting that this was too onerous a requirement.
All social groups, workplaces and organisations have individuals with reputations for
whinging and negativity. So perhaps unsurprisingly, a recent British study found that
"negative orientated personality" traits predicted unexplained non-specific symptoms
among residents near a wind farm, and not actual noise.
Ten years ago, the media was full of anxiety that mobile telephone towers would bring
down plagues of diseases on those around them. Local governments passed nonsensical
regulations allowing towers on factory roofs, but nowhere near sporting fields, schools or
even nursing homes (where most residents had highly limited life expectancy anyway).
The predicted epidemics of brain cancer never happened, there are more mobile phones
than Australian residents and the anxiety disappeared.
Todays's expected report will contain the equivalent nonsense about wind farms. It will
make interesting reading 10 years from now.

Simon Chapman is professor of public health at the University of Sydney. He tweets
@simonchapman6. View his full profile here.
© 2012 ABC