Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wind Energy: A Narrow View

What is the reasoning behind reading an article based on an environmental issue? For the most part someone would read an article based on a specific topic that they are interested in to become more informed about the current discussion surrounding the topic. In which case they are interested in an informative article. A good informative article provides the reader with unbiased information related to the topic at hand. Seeing as many environmental topics are very controversial, people tend to take very strong, one-sided opinions and quite often you read articles published to sway a persons opinion into the same realm as the author. In which case the article tends to loose its reliability by only informing the reader of one side of the argument.

Wind turbines in Shelburne Ontario.
Steve Russell

Such is the case with the article titled; Investment in green will help create jobs, by Robert Hornung. The title clearly indicates the position taken by the author and the article that follows is entirely swayed towards that position. In the article Hornung supports the expanded use of wind turbines as a means of energy production using some of the positive financial aspects that will be generated due to increased jobs in the sector.

At first glance Hornung simply appears to be addressing the financial aspect of the use of wind turbines and he dutifully addresses the negative topics of increasing cost of energy and the future investments needed to properly implement Ontario’s Green Energy Act. He then proceeds to counteract all the these claims with the positive fiscal benefits of wind power which include an increase in job positions concerned with wind energy, as well as investment into the industry. To support his claims, Hornung brings in facts and statistics. He uses Quebec as an example of how a successful implementation of wind energy provides jobs as well as the jobs provided worldwide in the wind energy industry. Given Hornungs' position as the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, the reader may choose to accept the specific information given in the article, however the use of some form of referencing or proof would give strength to these claims.

One very obvious aspect of the topic that was ignored is the negative effect that the actual wind turbines have on the surrounding area. In terms of monetary value, property values may decline in the surrounding areas due to the uncertainty surrounding wind turbines, and while it is great to be producing jobs, having the value of your home or land suddenly plummet is not something the public will appreciate. There is also the topic of health concerns surrounding wind turbines, due to the sounds produced by the turbines as well as the visual intrusion the vast vertically standing structures have on a generally horizontal landscape. Depending on how you distinguish value, a healthy well-being is beyond price to most.

Another aspect of “green energy” that seems to have been ignored is the possibility of a solution other than wind power, which leads the reader to further believe the Hornung is trying to sell the idea of wind energy, and therefore his information is biased. He does make mention of other sources of energy such as coal, nuclear and hydro, all of which make wind seem like the clear path to take. However there is no mention of the possibility of solar energy, which, like any solution, has its own set of pros and cons to be considered. However solar energy is generally quiet and less visually intrusive than the large wind turbines. While I am no expert on the subject, I definitely sense that Hornung avoided mentioning the possibility of solar power; only to avoid swaying his readers in another direction than the one he had so purposefully led them.

In general people do not like to be tricked into thinking a certain way, in order to gain a readers trust an author should give the reader information supporting both sides of an issue and lead them into a logical conclusion based on those facts. The reader can go on with a broader knowledge of the topic at hand and feel free to formulate their own opinion rather than only having the facts to support one view. An article that is so obviously one sided is hard to trust and the arguments are weakened by the authors reluctance to challenge his own opinions and views. I found it interesting that I actually support the future development of wind energy in Ontario, especially around my own home. I personally consider them a beautiful addition to our landscape, and a movement in a positive direction for our province. However I still found myself challenging the facts and information put forward in this article simply due to the narrow view of the topic.

Works Cited
HORNUNG, R. (2010, October 30). Investment in green will help create jobs. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from ifpress:

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