After arguing long and loud that their families’ health has been put at risk by the Ontario government’s pursuit of green energy in form of wind farms, our local opponents of the turbines must be feeling some sense of satisfaction and vindication today.
Last year, the Ontario government halted development of offshore wind farms like the ones off Kingston’s shoreline, pending more scientific research into the effects on the health and well-being of those who live and work in their flickering shadows.
And now the federal government has announced that it will pursue such studies. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced on Tuesday that Health Canada and Statistics Canada will investigate the turbines and the health concerns related to their presence.
Proponents of green energy suggest the real ailment of those complaining about the turbines is a powerful case of NIMBYism, and that the “farms” are less noisy and disturbing than living near a busy highway.
Opponents hate even the term “farms,” arguing the word itself paints a bucolic, pastoral picture of what are really rural industrial developments. For those living beneath the turbines, the list of fears is compelling
It’s not just the “insidious, life-deadening noise,” as one letter-writer to the Whig put it, but the fluctuations in air pressure and the vibrations that cause breathing problems, digestive issues, anxiety, headaches, struggles with concentration and disrupted sleep. And then there’s the horrifying thought that the windmills could also cause learning disabilities in their children.
The turbine debate is fraught with political dangers for Ontario’s government. Rural opposition to the projects have wounded the Liberals deeply at the ballot box.
Some who don’t live among the turbines can’t truly understand the fears of those who do; it’s easy to look across the water as they spin lazily in the sunshine and think only of the greener Earth we’ll leave to our children.
Meanwhile, there are many who oppose the green energy development for economic reasons alone. The province has spent billions on developing renewable energy sources with little, it seems, to show for it. Even Ontario’s environmental commissioner suggested last month that the province’s green energy campaign was misfiring, suggesting the focus be put on conservation, not generation.
But these are academic debates for the people who fear for their families’ safety. Janet White of Wolfe Island once told a public meeting that her family were “the lab rats in this green experiment.” Now the government scientists are going to weigh in. If they find any substance to the health concerns, it will likely mean the end of these projects. But it might be too little, too late for Ms. White and her community.
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