Wind Farms; Fat and Fit Debate: Listener Mail

(CP Photo/Adrian Wyld)

(CP Photo/Adrian Wyld)

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Michael reads listener mail on two much-discussed topics from the past two weeks: controversies over wind farms and the fat and fit phenomenon.

Last week, it was wind farms, with Paige Ellis' documentary, Windfall. In it, Ms. Ellis goes back to her hometown of Kincardine, Ontario, in which industrial turbines have turned once-friendly neighbours against each other.

Guest host Karin Wells followed it up with a discussion with John Twidell, an Editor Emeritus of The Journal of Wind Engineering and an adviser to the British parliament on energy issues. Both items got a lot of you pretty worked up. Here's a small sampling of your mail.

John Droz of Morehead City, North Carolina writes: "Thank you for your wind energy documentary. Unfortunately it had one fundamental problem: the science behind wind energy was not discussed.  And It was too bad that your wind "expert" was allowed to make numerous claims with zero scientific evidence to support them.

"The fact is that wind energy has never had a scientific assessment of any of its claimed benefits. It is also factual that there is significant evidence that wind energy is actually a net liability. No government should FORCE an energy source on its citizens, without unequivocal scientific proof that it provides a societal net benefit."

windA300.jpgDebbie Hughes of Smithville, Ontario felt our coverage was unfair. She writes: "The Kincardine documentary presented a balance of viewpoints which rings true of other regions which are facing the imposition of Industrial Wind Turbines. However, in the discussion that followed, only one perspective was heard - that of a Wind advocate. Why no voice from those opposed to such installations?"

David Major from Chester Basin, Nova Scotia writes: "I am in favor of moving from fossil fuel and respecting the environment. The periodic thumping sound of a windmill used in the documentary ought to have been identified in terms of proximity.  In my experience, that sound happens directly under the blades.  At 400 metres away, a wind farm is inaudible ... on a breezy day.  Radio could have contributed to the understanding the comparative noise at issue."

Linda Clarke of Halifax had a different take on the sound emitted from the turbines. She writes: Last year, we spent a month on Digby Neck, NS.  There is a wind farm about a kilometre from where were we staying.  At night, when the road behind us quieted, we could hear the turbines, and we could feel them.  The sound was quite similar to the audio in your piece.

"We met a mother and her daughter one day when we were out exploring. They live in the shadow of the wind turbines. These two women laid out a list of troubles they, their families, and their communities are experiencing since the turbines have been installed.  The list was extensive. These women did not seem to me to be hysterical or unsophisticated or anti-progressive. They are suffering and feel, increasingly, that they have no way of having their concerns addressed."

windB300.jpgDianna Medea of Regina adds: "As a classical homeopath, it is inappropriate to dismiss a person's health complaints, especially on air, as they are very real to that person. We all know people who complain of symptoms yet medical tests reveal nothing until a year or more later. When out of balance, the body sends out symptoms of distress, and if untreated or suppressed, they come out as deeper disease. Personally, I wouldn't want to live around that noise, day in, day out."

Jane West from Lion's Head, Ontario writes: "Thank you for featuring the industrial wind turbine issue. We may all be missing the point. If they disturb people and make them miserable in their environment for a host of different reasons, how green are they?"

Two weeks ago, we tackled the Great Weight Debate ... the notion that it's fitness, more than food, that determines our health. One of the guests we spoke with was Wendy Rodgers, a professor and vice-Dean in the faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, who explained how much exercise we need to become fit ... A LOT ... and why it's so hard for most of us to do it. Here's come of the mail.

John K. Wroe from Haileybury, Ontario writes: "Wendy Rodgers talks about 60 to 90 minutes of exercise each day. I exercise for about seven hours a day. I am 58 years old. A year ago, I weighed 227 pounds. This morning I weighed 204. Why? I work in the local Walmart warehouse.

shoes300.jpg"We don't work real hard, but we work fast and smart and never stop moving. It is no secret that Walmart doesn't pay a lot, but I could get myself a desk job and then have to spend money and time in a gym. Would you rather have me sweating in a gym on Sunday mornings, or listening to you? Nap time. I must prepare for my 3-11 exercise shift."

Thomas Anderson from the Health Sciences Research Institute in Summerland, BC writes:  It's important to understand that "foods" such as french fries, doughnuts, candy and pop increase the risks associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and many other conditions independent of their contribution to weight gain. Limiting their consumption is worthwhile regardless of activity levels or how "fit" a person may appear to be."

Marilyn Chisholm of Nelson, BC, writes: "I was in a local grocery store and picked up a fruit cup that  I thought would be a nice snack for my granddaughter who was visiting. I looked at the label and could not believe that it was a product from China. Why would BC be importing processed fruit from China? Boggles the mind. Talk about a carbon footprint.

Helen Hanratty of Halifax had this suggestion for people not getting enough exercise:
"Move to downtown Halifax, don't drive a car and don't use the bus system. When I used to visit, I'd tell my friends in Toronto that every street in Halifax went uphill. Now that I live here, I realize the streets are really ski slopes in disguise. But it's still a great city to live in."

Drew Rice of Toronto didn't have a lot of sympathy for people fighting their weight. He writes: "What a wonderful story about being overweight, which completely wrote-off the need for people to be responsible for their health. The true obscenity is that our culture, and your guests, encouraged us to accept that since it is now normal to be fat, we should just concede that it is a proper state of health. It is NOT."

While Mr. Rice thought we were too easy on the obese, Sue Connor of Saint John, New Brunswick hoped for a little more compassion. She writes: "I wish your show would focus on the real reason most, although not all, people are overweight ... depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of poor self worth. If you focus on just the physical - eating better food and working out - and ignore the psychological issues, the problem will never be solved.

"I am obese, and I know I need to eat better and exercise more; however, this is very difficult because I use food to deal with life. I grew up in a home with alcoholics. As a kid, I had no way to get cigarettes or drugs and I didn't want to drink like my parents. So I ate. And ate and ate and ate.

"Drug addicts and alcoholics are told they have an addiction and they need help. They get rehab, often covered by insurance or the province. The obese are told we are lazy slobs who stuff our faces with junk. And if we try to get help, there is no insurance there to help offset the costs."treadmill620B.jpg

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