Friday, May 11, 2007

The Joys of Bureaucracy

This is a still relevant re-post.

The Ontario government has started a pilot project of installing new smart meters that tell you how much electricity you use for activities such as laundering clothes, showering, and lighting so that you can reduce your electricity usage and therefore save yourself money. Their established targets are to have 800, 000 smart meters installed by December 31, 2007, and to have all residents using them by December 31, 2010. This plan also serves the purpose of bailing the Ontario government out because they have not planned out our increasing electricity needs enough. To their credit, they have stuck to certain goals of shutting down coal-burning generators, but they have not sufficiently planned to replace the lost megawatts. Investing more heavily in nuclear is an idea that has been bandied about, but really, who wants radioactive waste that takes tens of thousands of years to become harmless in their backyards?

To count myself among the fans of wind-generators (pun intended) is an honour, but there are naysayers who say they are eyesores. How can such a clean energy source delivered by such elegant structures be so maligned? The lines of a contemporary windmill are understated, and they are rounded rather than squared; as such, they contrast beautifully with the sharp corners of the modern citiscape. In large urban areas, skyscrapers form natural wind tunnels that might be areas ripe for smaller windmills, attached to the sides of buildings. Engineers should grab their Cray supercomputers and do some feasibility studies and cost-benefit analysis. The aesthetic eyesore argument is more of a parody of the NIMBY perspective, rather than a legitimate expression of it. The nuclear waste NIMBY argument is far more persuasive.

There are those bleeding hearts who worry about the birds who fly into the blades of windmills and die. Thousands of birds a year already die by flying into skyscrapers. To deny the value of birds in and of themselves as life forms, their value to people to brighten the visual and sonic atmosphere, and their value as key links in the food chains or threads in food webs that compose ecosystems is foolish. But what is worse: a few hundred birds dying per year, or billions of birds, people, and other animals suffering from air pollution caused by coal or gas-burning generators?

The concept of smart meters - another ingredient in the recipe of living sustainably - is sound, yet they have only made this meters available to the people involved in the pilot project. Therefore, those of us who already understand the benefits, both personal and environmental, of such meters, cannot get them because of this bureaucratic procedure. If this is what they mean by snail's pace, I'm looking for a solar-powered shell.
posted by Trevor_Cunnington @ 9:58 AM 0 comments

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