There is an all-out war against science

By Ron Hart,
The County Weekly News
Date published: 
Thu, 2011-02-24

John Bennett, the Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada writes, "There appears to be a backlash against wind energy across Ontario. Is it real? It looks suspiciously like a campaign sponsored by Ontario's opposition Conservative party and its backers. Using misinformation about costs and safety, it plays on people's fears in order to destroy public support for Ontario's Green Energy Act."

Describing co-ordinated resolutions across Ontario calling for moratoriums on wind farms, Bennett notes, "This is clearly a highly organized campaign against wind energy in Ontario and it masquerades as local opposition...The situation is very similar to campaigns launched by the auto industry against California's clean car regulations. The plan is simple: to kill green energy everywhere by misleading and frightening people."

Bennett says the situation is critical: "If we don't confront it there may not be a Green Energy Act in the very near future."

Robyn Kenny of the Sierra Club has concluded that while Ontario PCs are aggressively criticizing the Liberals' policies, they are not offering many options regarding how to deal with the problems they have identified. The PCs do not highlight  how they will deal with energy policy in Ontario. There is a lot of dialogue on what the PCs would not do if elected, but not much discussion about what they would do. PCs never make any mention of the environment other than when they are criticizing the Liberals' green policy initiatives.

The Ontario government has put a moratorium on lake-based wind farms until studies are completed ostensibly to determine their environmental effects in fresh water. This could be interpreted as a defensive move by the Liberals. After all, politics is the art of the possible. Whether or not the concerted disinformation campaign prompted the move or whether the move was simply to complete their due diligence is open to speculation. At any rate, the Liberals are determined to forge ahead with wind energy on land.

In the first major test of Ontario's Green Energy Act, Ian Hanna of Prince Edward County has launched  a legal challenge of provincial regulations concerning the minimum setback of industrial wind turbines from residential homes.  The matter is still before the courts.

The government lawyer, Sara Blake, argued that the three key witnesses Hanna's challenge are not credible claiming that they were neither expert on noise emissions  nor impartial. Blake also stated that Dr. Nissenbaum's study, which was cited as evidence, is not published or peer reviewed.  In contrast, the government further argued that the minister's consultation and review of scientific studies, jurisdictional comparisons, expert consultations and modelling work were sufficient to comply with the ministry's process guidelines and environmental values.   

At the local level, the County Sustainability Group has, several times, had to correct misinformation advanced by the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County—information that APPEC knew or should have known was incorrect: See corrections at  Like a giant echo chamber, reinforcing misinformation, Wind Concerns Ontario joined in the attack on science.

An article in the Belleville Intelligencer noted that mayor-elect Peter Mertens was one of 110 delegates at a Picton symposium organized by the Society for Wind Vigilance. He said there must be more discussions about the potential health impacts of generating wind energy. Mertens said concerns cited during the symposium weren't entirely new to him, but others need to hear the details. "I think the information is compelling." ..."A lot of them have taken that position without truly understanding the facts that were presented here", he said. "We have to take the politics out of this now and we have to get the science to the forefront."

If only Mertens had taken his own advice. The "facts" that he felt were so compelling in reality were opinions and anecdotal information, just like the "facts" in Hanna's court challenge. Scientific facts are verified, and consensus reached has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

As Albert Einstein said, "A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. Information is not knowledge."


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