Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anti-Environmentalism? Only in Canada

Today, hundreds of angry protesters demonstrated outside the Ontario legislator. It isn’t all that uncommon to see people stomping their feet, yelling and screaming while holding up signs of protest in front of government buildings.

That’s one of our fundamental freedoms in our democratic society – freedom of expression.

However, WHAT they were protesting is anything but common.

The group assembled in front of Canada’s largest provincial ruling body was protesting wind farms – large swaths of land, filled with clean, environmentally-friendly wind turbines, to power our world.

“Stop the Wind” and “No Industrial Wind Turbines” read some of the many signs being carted around by the protesters. How they intend the government to “stop the wind” remains to be seen.

Seriously, they claim that large-scale wind turbine facilities are an eye soar and lower local property values around the wind farm. They also claim they aren’t cost effective, costing more to build than the revenues they provide.

Could this be the start of the anti-environmental movement?

Are nuclear power plants, with their enormous concrete domes any less of an eye soar? What about coal-fired power plants, with their tall smoke stacks coughing up stinky sulfur-smelling swirls of smoke? Would you rather live next to one of those?

Wind turbines don’t give off any pollutants, have no hazardous bi-products – like radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant – and some have even commented that the low hum sound the turbines make in the wind are peaceful, and soothing.

Though sounds and sights are individualistic opinions – one person’s art is another's junk.

The real issue here isn’t whether or not wind power is better for the planet – academics, scientists, politicians; even the suits and ties behind big business have all gone on the record promoting alternative green sources of energy, such as solar and wind power.

The problem is our old friend Mr. NIMBY.

Perhaps you met Mr. NIMBY before?

Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) was a term coined in the 1980’s by a British politician for people that don’t want something built close to their homes or businesses. It has been used extensively to refer to residents that don’t want a landfill site in their neighborhood, but our friend, Mr. NIMBY appears to have reared his ugly head once again, this time over wind turbines.

No one wants a garbage dump in their backyard, or even a nuclear power plant. And it makes sense that some wouldn’t want a wind farm in their field of view either.

But as our population continues to grow and cities and towns expand, we’ll need more of the supporting infrastructure in place to accommodate this growth. This means, we’ll need more waste water/sewage facilities, more garbage and recycling facilities and more power generation facilities.

Given the choice, I’d rather look out my window and see a bunch of wind turbines off in the distance, instead of a giant nuclear power plant, a coal-fired power plant, or a landfill site.

It might not be as pretty as the hundred acre wood, but it sure beats waking up to the smell of sulfur or rotting trash.

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