Saturday, April 10, 2010

Google It, Add-On

I nearly forgot to do my next 'fact check'.... The other day I posted some links regarding how Calgary has shown up as #5 on the UN Hit List for worst emissions-per-capita-city in the world. I noticed in several of the news stories that Calgary's LRT was listed as '100% Wind Powered'. You can read that in the CTV link HERE (about half way through the article). Or for your enjoyment here: """Right now, the LRT is 100 percent wind powered. We're on track by 2012 to have 100 percent green energy producing for the City of Calgary operations so that puts us far ahead of our [Kyoto] targets," says Rick Ciezki."" Ciezki is apparently Calgary's manager of environmental assessment and liabilities ( according to FFWDweekly.com).

But my brother's friend worked on Calgary's 'Ride The Wind' campaign and he told me that it's not true - Calgary's LRT is not 100% wind powered.He wrote ""Even the claim that the c-train is 100% wind powered is wrong. The city ran an advertising campaign a few years ago called "Ride the wind". It wasn't saying the c-train is wind powered, it was saying that because the train is electric powered, it could theoretically be wind powered. I know this because I knew a girl who worked on that campaign. The trains power comes from the city's power grid..."" So here I was, a confused citizen again. People on the LRT campaign even said it was not 100% wind powered...

....But Rick Ciezki says it is, and CTV CBC and other news organizations quoted that in their articles...

So I went to the city's Ride The Wind website and found this quote in a section for teaching school children about the LRT....""Explain that Calgary's C-train system is not powered exclusively by wind power, but that the electricity comes from a variety of sources, including coal and natural gas-fired power plants, hydroelectric stations, and others. Note that the City of Calgary has agreed to purchase enough electricity from wind energy providers (21,000 megawatt-hours of power) to supply the C-Train's needs on an annual basis.""

Okay so the Ride the Wind campaign website says it is NOT powered exclusivley by wind power, but a city services manager says it is "100% wind power". Oh. Um. What? I am confused .... again.

Ohhhhhh I get it now... so basically, the city buys 21,000 MWH from Vision Quest (check the site, that's the company they use, through Enmax)... anyway they buy this and then it gets put into the general city grid. It does not go directly and exclusively to the C-train, it goes to the GRID. So, if you are splitting hairs, technically the city buys enough wind power from turbines south of the city to power what the LRT currently uses. But, it is misleading to say that the c-train is 100% wind powered and that's what I take issue with. This is as bad as flipping statistics around until you like how it looks. People reading the article would think that there was a special wind turbine farm set up with wires heading to the LRT. Maybe that's their fault for not thinking harder, or maybe it's mr Rick's fault for deliberately misleading, or maybe it's the media's fault for taking that one quote and spreading it across the entire planet (I saw it on BBC and some Italian paper too, plus the US)... without providing 'the whole story'.

Makes me wish everyone in the media, govt offices, municipal offices, etc had to swear TO TELL THE TRUTH... THE WHOLE TRUTH... and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. then maybe citizens could have an idea of what is really happening to their country/province/city/etc.

4 comments:

  1. Having grown up in Calgary, a grand child of pioneers in the Province, I know that we used to joke that Calgary had "Stampede Week and winter", i.e., it is very cold there a lot. The UN likes per capita consumption figures, as it punishes the modern, western people who live in cold climates. One can comfortably sleep outdoors most of the year in the Sudan, as another blogger reported.

    With no major hydro-electric resources like smug Quebec, Southern Alberta has creatively warmed its homes with the resources we have. Wind power is actually quite unreliable, but it probably may become a viable source of electrical energy for Alberta, unlike other parts of Canada, as it is quite windy too (I recall those -30 degree 8 A.M. walks across the windy U of C campus from the bus stop only too well!). The market economy will, if given the chance, work out the right mix without hype and interference.

    I am as offended as you are to hear that city officials are lying to the public. The public needs to know that giant wind fans are expensive, inefficient in consistent delivery and have some downsides (noise etc.; bird kills). My grandfather's heritage ranch now has 3 ugly wind mills, so that is the price. I hate all the companies who are lying to boast about how green they are: they are sheeple. In fact, green is starting to make me see red!

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  2. City of Calgary officials lying to the people. That is pretty much a given . The lying has been going on for many years and shouldn't surprise anyone. One more line of lying crap will come to the surface when the final cost of Bronconnier's pet project bridge is done. BTW it is being built in Spain. It appears Bronconnier and the other lying city counselors don't think local companies are capable of building it.

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  3. L - I'm sure the wind turbines are clocking some good hours right now and for the past 2 weeks cos it's been windy as crazy! But now that I think about it, turbines south of my city do not turn in winds over a certain amount (I cannot recall what speed the tourism sign stated) and we have been under a wind warning for 3 days. I don't know what their protocol is - turn the turbines off during all wind warnings, or do they turn themselves off? Hmm... that's something I do not recall seeing on any of these turbine websites so I'll have to look into that. If a turbine can't run when wind is over 90km/hr (safety issue I assume), what do you do when it's gusting over 90 off and on for 3 days? Do you risk leaving them on, or do you just shut the turbines down immediately. Interesting thought because over half the province has been under wind warnings... so if they have to be shut down during that, well we lost a heck of a lot of 'wind power'.

    Anyway I lived in Blairmore for 3 years and watched the wind farm grow near Pincher Creek. Incidentally, despite the great number of turbines out there, it was still not enough to power Pincher Creek let alone the Crowsnest Pass. I'm not sure about now but I haven't seen it announced on the news that the region is now 100% wind powered (not even as a lie like Calgary LRT story)... so my best guess is that they still don't have enough energy to sustain a region of less than 20,000 people. (Who by the way, had to pay and arm and a leg for electricity when I lived there, so it would be really nice to catch a break for once lol).

    Anonymous - no big surprise at all, but I can't stand how people just digest all this stuff the media spits out and don't think about it any further than that. That kind of complacency has directly contributed to what is going on around us today. They will pass the story along to friends and family "Hey did you know the Calgary CTrain is totally wind-powered now?" and then the next person and the next person pass it along and no one THINKS about it.

    This is what I think about - if the LRT was seriously 100% wind powered, I would like to know if there were any delays caused by days where the wind just would not blow, or if there was a chinook with a wind warning and they had to shut down the turbines for 3 days, what would happen to the LRT? How long can they store the energy? Is it still 24 hours? Would the LRT have to stop running for a day or two until the batteries could be charged by the turbines again? Those are questions no one seems to ask (Ive personally never heard anyone wonder about that besides my partner).

    Only a handful of people can be seen or heard or read questioning these ideas and seeing through the little white lies or the twisted statistics. That's pretty sad. People are not stupid, they are in fact naturally curious creatures,,, but some can sure be lulled to sleep quickly!

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  4. One more example that I have to get out of my head and down into the blog so I have less headaches (lol) was back when the IPCC shindig was going on in Copenhagen. I posted a one-liner on my status bar on Facebook just to zap people into 'thinking' about things they might not have thought about before. I wrote 'I wonder how many limos and private planes are circling Copenhagen right about now' (it was the first day of the climate change conference).

    One of my former coworkers wrote 'The news said that most of them took a Green Train to Denmark'.

    I typed up Copenhagen + Green Train in google and found that it was about 500 UN Delegates on that train, and an unknown number of people traveling partially on Green Trains from Russia and Japan.. but there were over 15,000 people expected. So what the news meant was that 'most of the UN delegates' took the Green Train and people heard the word 'most' and translated it to mean most of the people GOING to the conference. And the media darn well knew that too or they would have said "out of the 15,000 expected to attend, about 1000 of them will arrive by Green Train'. No - they knew what they were saying and they knew how people would take it, and they chose to continue with that single utterance. They are safe from being accused of lying because they did not actually lie, but they were careful with their wording.

    When in high school and college, I took writing courses where we were taught specifically how to write a newspaper article, how to put the 'attractive' details first to draw the reader in, and then pepper in the rest of the 'facts' later on. We were taught how it's like using psychology with your 'tone' in writing, or in news broadcasts - how to speak to the public and get them to focus on key words just by making a slight change in your voice. Then they hear 'Most' of the 'delegates' arrived via 'Green Train' instead of 'most of the UN delegates arrived by Green Train, accounting for just over 2% of people expected to attend the conferences'.

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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