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What a surprise

After casting the die last fall with biased materials, the Department of Public Service announces (Caledonian-Record, Feb. 2, 2008) that its workshops and deliberative polling sessions found just what it had set out to find: People are “so supportive of wind power they wouldn’t mind a wind farm within sight of their homes.”

How many turbines, at what height? And lights? And noise? Well, it’s easy for people who don’t live in the mountains to say that, since they know it’ll never happen in their backyard.

Further, the people polled are in favor of efficiency. I can’t disagree with them there. But did their learning experiences really consider how inefficient wind is? “Renewables,” fine, but what’ll they do if the wind stops blowing during their favorite TV program or dinner preparation?

And were they sufficiently briefed about the carbon footprint involved in making the massive concrete bases, the steel reinforcing rods, and the turbine pedestals (steel is made from coal)? And the shipping of turbines from foreign countries? Wind plants are not all that environmentally friendly after all.

According to a recent news story (see http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080204/wl_uk_afp/britainpeoplehistoryoffbeat_080204001239) a poll showed “that nearly a quarter [of all Brits] think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real” … other highlights include:

• 47 percent thought the 12th-century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth …

• 23 percent believed Florence Nightingale wasn’t real …

• Three percent thought Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s most famous writers, is a work of fiction himself …

So how informed is “deliberate polling”?

Cynthia Barber

Newark, Vt.

The Caledonian-Record

14 February 2008