Wednesday, March 11, 2015

LIBERTY dRULES: More idiocy on wind power

My friend Mike Fox recently sent this letter to the Editor of the Barrie Examiner, in response to a recent local op-ed column in the "Liberty Rules" series. I've added hyperlinks to illustrate the points made; where possible, they are to stories published by the same newspaper chain as publishes Mr. Fabrizio's silly, disinformative rants.

Dear Editor,

It’s a shame that community op-ed columns in this paper seem exempt from basic fact-checking, and that some writers, ideological blinkers fastened so tight they can’t even see their own contradictions, take advantage of this.

Paolo Fabrizio’s recent column “Blown away by wind turbines” (Barrie Examiner, March 5) is based on a number of unproven or outright false assertions.

He complains that people have wind turbines forced in their backyards, “just metres away”. Yet the mandatory setback for new industrial wind turbines in Ontario is 550 meters, more than a third of a mile. And both recent comprehensive studies completely disprove his assertion that they are “property value killing”.

Fabrizio brands them “bird smashing machines” yet actual counts show that bird deaths from wind turbines are minuscule next to the real major bird killers: cats and windows. A single feral cat or a single multi-story building kills more birds each year than any wind turbine. The CNE turbine, which Fabrizio mentions, is responsible for about 2-3 bird deaths a year, probably fewer than the average car commuter like him.

And back to that CNE turbine; Fabrizio opines that the Liberal premier excludes wind turbines from her own backyard, which he imagines to be the Toronto lakeshore, yet also complains that the CNE turbine is “never working”. If he were to put two-and-two together, or look at a publicly-available wind map, he’d find the real reason there aren’t more turbines on the Toronto waterfront: because it’s at the bottom end of the wind energy scale, unlike the more lucrative wind energy resource in the rural areas where wind farms are actually built. Nothing to do with political privilege or favour; everything to do with the practical matter of where the wind blows.

Wind maps, bird kill statistics, and property value studies are all just a few clicks away on any internet search; I hope Mr. Fabrizio tries to check a few basic facts before wasting ink to spread misinformation again.

I suspect that, as he has done before, Mr Fabrizio will dismiss his lack of valid facts with a mandate to provoke discussion. Unfortunately I suspect all too many readers might misinterpret his rants as factual further fueling the backlash to one of the most cost effective green energy alternatives available today.

By definition, prejudice is ‘an opinion or judgment that disregards the facts’. And a newspaper that allows its columnists to generate prejudice needs to rethink its validity.


Mike Fox
Barrie, Ontario


I would like to add something to Mike's excellent points. 

The Libertarian argument against wind power
Paolo vociferously claims to be a Libertarian, and to be incensed by government regulations that forbid a person from doing whatever they want, so long as it doesn't harm others, to make profit or enjoy their leisure. The Ontario government doesn't "force wind turbines" on anyone - they don't build them at all, and they won't make you have one on your land. Wind turbines are built by private companies on private land, with the permission of the land owners and to mutual financial benefit. All the government does is allow your neighbour to profit from their own land by building one, except that they must respect a rather large setback to protect you from any imagined harms. 

And imagined is what they are. There is no evidence of any serious harms from turbines, so there is certainly no reason for government to side with phantom fears against real enterprise.

Now, if the government were to forbid wind turbines, then I could see a Libertarian getting upset, because that would restrict his own ability to profit from his land. But this article, and the similar one before, seem to be anti-Libertarian, in that Paolo seems to want the government to forbid someone from a safe and legal use of their land just to protect the delicate sensibilities and phantom fears of some other people.

Whoever thought the day would come when Paolo the Libertarian would argue that private enterprise is bad, and should be restricted by laws, just to please people who don't like to look at it or think about it!

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