Public Discourse—Practiced by Environmental NGOs or Scare Mongering and Legal Threats
A guest article that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator August 7, 2012 written by the interim Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) contains some interesting claims and does so while trying to stifle debate and an upcoming Health Canada Study relating to the impacts of industrial wind turbines on human health. The article written by Farrah Kahn is headlined “Medical experts favour wind energy over dangerous, toxic fossil fuels” which is amusing as Farrah Kahn is not (to the best of the writer’s knowledge) a medical expert however CAPE is prone to making extensive medical claims including some that appear in the aforementioned article. On most occasions Kahn’s articles name studies or reports prepared by others to add weight to her claims as in this article where it states; “ “According to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance [OCAA] in 2009 Ontario’s coal plants were connected to 246 deaths, 342 hospital admissions, 406 costly energy room visits and almost 123,000 illnesses such as asthma attacks.”
The exact numbers laid out in the article are presumably to give the reader the feeling that this information; being so precise, must be right! If one laboriously goes through all of the reports that the OCAA have on their website it is impossible to find any reference to the precise numbers Kahn purports they have connected. One report titled “The Ontario Power Authority’s Coal Phase-Out Strategy: A Critical Review” does have some statistics but they were taken from an April 2005 report prepared by DSS Management Consultants for the Ministry of Energy when Dwight Duncan was the Minister. That report looked at the following four scenarios:
“Four scenarios were identified by the Ministry of Energy, namely:
- Scenario 1 – Base Case (the status quo, continue operating the coal-fired generation facilities within the current regulatory regime1),
- Scenario 2 – All Gas (produce all of the replacement electricity through gas generation facilities constructed for this purpose alone),
- Scenario 3 – Nuclear/Gas (produce all of the replacement electricity through a combination of refurbished nuclear and new gas generation facilities constructed for this purpose alone), and
- Scenario 4 – Stringent Controls (continue operating the coal-fired generation facilities but install new emission control technology so that the best available control technology is in place).”
The absolute best case in respect to health costs that the report highlighted was Scenario 3 (Nuclear/Gas) and as the reader of that dated report will quickly discern, makes no mention of wind or solar generation. Scenario 1 (the status quo) was the worst case and claimed (by modelling) 668 deaths, 928 hospital admissions, 1100 emergency room visits and 333,660 minor illnesses.
If one assumes that DSS used 2004 Consumption figues as supplied by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) as their base for modelling purposes, then coal generation supplied 26.8 TWh (terrawatts) or 17% of Ontario’s consumption in 2004. For 2011 coal generation supplied only 4.1 TWh or 2.7% of Ontario’s electricity consumption. The drop in electricity supplied by coal plants over that period of time was 85% yet Kahn appears to have dropped her numbers (compared to those in the DSS report) down by only 63%, assuming she used those projections (mathematically) as the basis for the claim.
The DSS report carried this cavet: “In actual fact, it is impossible to identify which specific deaths that occur over a given period of time are actually attributable to air pollution. Air pollution is a contributory factor in a multitude of deaths and is almost never the overriding or irrefutable single cause of death.”
This 2005 DSS report has been used extensively by environmental NGOs and Ontario’s Liberal politicians as the principal reason to place 400/500 foot industrial wind turbines throughout Ontario damaging peoples health, killing birds and bats and driving up the cost of electricity. For some reason the main stream media (MSM) has allowed them to use this worst case scenario without questioning either the logic or pointing out the apparent disclaimer in the DSS report.
That Kahn would use the OCAA as her source of affirmation is also worth examining. The former (currently on sabatical) Executive Director of OCAA (Jack Gibbons) sits on the Board of Ontario Clean Air Alliance Research Inc. a registered charity (gross revenue in 2011 was $17,505) with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and presumably is the OCAA’s research arm. Gibbons sits on this Board along with Gideon Forman and Angela Bischoff of CAPE and a Richard Smith (the writer assumes that this is the Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence).
CAPE`s Board of Directors includes David Miller, former Mayor of Toronto and Bruce Lourie whom I have written about and expressed my personal opinion on, in several prior articles.
When it comes to using Ontarian’s tax dollars CAPE and OCAA have different targets which, in my opinion, appear to be almost orchestrated. CAPE seems to favour the Trillium Foundation from whom they have obtained almost $600,000 in grants over the past few years whereas OCAA target the Toronto Atmospheric Fund or TAF, a City of Toronto owned not-for profit (perhaps its the Miller connection but as noted he is actually on the CAPE Board), from whom they have received grants of approximately $525,000.
CAPE is not registered with the Ontario Lobbyist Registrar however OCAA is, and they disclose that some of their past funding was provided by TAF. It is also interesting to note that OCAA disclose in their filing that private funding (over $750 per annum) comes from; Union Gas, European Power Systems (gas equipment), Northland Power (wind developer), Sky Generation (wind developer), Enbridge Gas and the Canadian Health & Environmental Research Foundation (CHEER). The latter is the registered charity of CAPE and according to its filing with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) lists its activities as “General environmental protection, recycling services”; whatever that means.
One wonders if the CRA bothers to actually review the activities of these registered charities who, in this case, are using tax exempt revenues to finance a non-profit organization actively lobbying the government. It is easy to understand the reasoning behind the big industrial wind and gas companies supporting the OCAA as they are utilizing the benefits of an ENGO to lobby on their behalf, however, in my opinion, this severely taints the OCAA’s recommendations to eliminate coal and nuclear generation while favouring wind, solar and gas generation. The question one must ask is why would anyone consider their reports as a source of unbiased information!
The foregoing demonstrates to a limited extent, the scare mongering that ENGOs practice in their religious zeal to follow the preaching of the green zealots. A recent letter the writer received further demonstrates that those who wish to rid the world of energy produced by coal or nuclear generation and replace it with industrial wind turbines and solar panels want to do this by stifling the voices of those who might question their objectives or publish facts that highlight the negative effects of both wind and solar.
As noted above I have voiced my opinion on the ability of one individual to greatly influence government policy through advocacy that utilizes taxpayer and ratepayer monies for the activities they believe in. That particular individual has deigned to threaten me with a libel lawsuit. My articles on this particular individual have been supported by facts that are available in the public domain and I have utilized those facts to reflect my opinion in clear expressions that are based on those facts and the logic that they present.
The threatening letter from a prominent Toronto based law firm indicated that they, as counsel, see the postings as my “obsession” whereas I view them as my “opinion”. Those opinions clearly are part of my rights under Part 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom which states that “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms” and under 2. (b), of those freedoms says; “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;” are protected. This particular letter however mentions the “Libel and Slander Act of Ontario” which in my humble ex-banker opinion, also allows for opinions supported by facts.
If certainly appears that ENGOs don’t believe that Ontarians are entitled to express their free opinion and will use the legal system to stifle free speech. They also seem to have an undying faith in “junk science” as noted in a fairly recent article which includes commentary on a book co-authored by Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence and their past President and a current Director; Bruce Lourie.
The common thesis of environmentalists seems to be; dazzle the MSM with junk science and co-incidentialy threaten objectors with legal action. That the McGuinty Liberal government has been “dazzled” is not a question that occurs to this writer, however, they haven’t (to the best of my knowledge) stifled free speech and “my opinion” on matters that affect my health and well being will continue to be expressed as “my opinion”!
I certainly hope readers will agree to my right to express my opinion.
August 12, 2012