wind-fullBy Andre Den Tandt

In the 1970s the names of Donald Johanson and Lucy, the relatively complete pre-hominid skeleton he discovered in Ethiopia, were regularly in the news. So were Louis and Mary Leakey, who had preceded him into Africa and Olduvai Gorge in what is now Kenya. The tools and skeletons they found belonged to upright-walking pre-hominids, and they were clearly older than the 6000 or so years that Bishop James Ussher had determined as the time since creation as told in Genesis.

An old argument was back: Was this the famous Missing Link of evolution, reliably dated as several million years old?

The standard argument against evolution ("where is the missing link?") should have been dead right then. But it wasn't, still isn't, and never will be. An old proverb comes to mind: "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

Lots of people, for a variety of reasons, will refuse to see connections that should be obvious even to a child.

Here's what stops them: ideology, partisanship, fundamentalist religion, selfish (often financial) considerations, nationalism (often racism), and other 'isms.'

But the converse can also be true: The above list of culprits will just as easily make some people see connections or links where there aren't any, simply because they believe they should exist. Which brings us to one of the most pernicious and harmful fabricated links of our time, namely that "green" energy initiatives such as wind-turbines and solar panels are the solution to global warming and climate change.

In a nutshell, the link between the problem and the presumed solution is absent. There is no link. And that can be proven.

When a neighbour came to my door several years ago to tell me of a project to build 26 500-foot wind turbines between my home on the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay, I had already accepted the David Suzuki / Al Gore vision of the earth's climate problems, their cause and their solution, as proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The first public meeting, organized - or, more accurately, staged - by the developer, came as a total surprise to me. Many of my neighbours had been "signed up" by the developer in secret. The presentation contained much misinformation, some of it pure fiction. One-time uber-minister George Smitherman's Green Energy Act was a cleverly designed and extremely powerful instrument that could best be described as a steamroller or a bulldozer: Nothing would stand in its way.

I began a quest for facts, still half-convinced that this was perhaps a sacrifice that some people might have to make, that there was no good alternative. I soon learned different. I am still at it four or five years later, though this particular

windfarm looks like it may never see the light of day.

First discovery: No-one in government, in the four or five ministries that had a role to play in this project, would ever acknowledge receiving an e-mail or letter, let alone answer one.

Sedond discovery: No-one in the above-mentioned ministries, the proponent companies, the Liberal or NDP parties or the various environmental NGOs was interested in facts, data, or evidence. They were, and are, on a track in which partisanship, ideology, greed and mutually beneficial deals long ago obviated the need for facts or evidence. I could provide you with a dozen names

from memory.

This meant that all formal procedures, approval processes, quasi-judicial reviews, were just there for show, mere hoops through which the proponents were required to jump, with the outcome predetermined. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way. That bulldozer was and is still working flawlessly and unrelentingly. The architects of the Green Energy Act knew what they were


Third discovery: The public at large was firmly convinced, as I had been, both that Armageddon was upon us, and that renewable energy initiatives could save the day, provided we gave the government and big energy providers carte-blanche access to our bank accounts. Few in the big cities would do the reasearch. Even in the smaller cities and towns it's easier to

find adherents to the "green religion" than those who have a grasp of the pros and cons of various power alternatives, their effects on health or the environment, the cost of electricity (and who pays), and the economic consequences of pursuing what can only be described as "pie-in-the-sky" policies. The propagandists, led by CANWEA, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, did their job very well.

But the truth, in a nutshell, is this: Assuming the threat of global climate change is as immediate and severe as we have been told, so-called renewable energy initiatives as proffered by the Ontario government cannot and will not affect carbon emissions in any way that will have the slightest impact on the global climate, one way or another. That's because:

  • Electricity cannot be stored in the amounts required at a cost that is bearable. Hydro or pumped storage is one possible exception, but virtually all the economically feasible locations ( e.g in Norway or Quebec ) are already in use.
  • The unpredictable nature of renewables (when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine) has all sorts of knock-on effects, including surplus production that must be given away or sold at great loss, instability and risk to the grid, paying producers not to produce, and the need to build gas-fired and other more reliable generation as a back-up.
  • Some of these problems can be mitigated or worked around by throwing money at them, which is exactly what the Ontario government has done, to the tune of several billion dollars per year, a sum that will grow if all planned projects go through.

Nuclear technology does have the capacity to provide safe, renewable, plentiful, carbon-free energy; in particular, Thorium nuclear technology, which is now being actively pursued in other jurisdictions. But that's a topic for another day. My point is that the Ontario government's proposed solutions are not solutions. They are a cripplingly expensive public-relations exercise.

Silcote Corners, the planned turbine field near my home, appears to have been shelved, for now. So why am I still spending time on this, as much or more as on my favorite hobbies, such as gardening (water lilies, roses, lotus, orchids, organic vegetables ) reading and thinking about evolutionary biology/psychology?

Perhaps because I think it's important to do one's bit to save the world from idiotic and catastrophic boondoggles that will eat up all the resources we need to keep the environment clean and safe for all the ecosystems and organisms that rely on it, including us.

Andre Den Tandt is a retired teacher and landowner who lives in Sydenham Township.