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A Windy Debate
Posted by Jeff Hathaway on August 13, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Hello again, Adam here! While at the Pinery, we watched a movie called Waterline. This movie followed the course of the Great Lakes Watershed, with a focus on all the various pollutants and other factors affecting marine life in our waters. One of the places featured was the
Aamjiwnaang First Nation, just south of Sarnia. The reserve is in an area known as Chemical Valley, and was being featured for the birth rate of more than 60% females in the community. The hypothesis is that this is due to many estogen-like compounds being released into the water from cities upstream (Chicago, for instance).
It was fitting that the very next day we headed to the same reserve, and even met a few of the people featured in the documentary. There was a good turnout from the community, and everyone had a good time handling the snakes. The reserve itself was quite nice, but just across from the baseball diamond and park loomed an oil refinery puffing smoke into the air. Their community center is surrounded on many sides by oil refineries and other factories, and all of us felt the weight in our lungs as if we had been smoking cigarettes for our few days in the area.
While there, we were talking to people who had fed their pet Ball Pythons (an intermediate pet choice) with mice and rats raised on tap water and grains from the area. The Ball Pythons had died after consuming the rodents. Whether this was a direct effect or mere coincidence was never proven, but it is very clear that the area is heavily polluted. felt guilty driving through the area as I knew that my driving contributed to the problems that these people and this area are facing. With our reliance on fossil fuels, every cent spent at the pumps generates the profit that allows the industry to thrive, and our health and environment to suffer.
As we left Aamjiwnaang, the refineries slowly faded from the agricultural landscape and were replaced by windmills. Compared to the oil refineries, wind turbines seemed to be the most beautiful thing ever. If only it were that simple...
Wind Turbines are an extremely controversial issue in the areas where they appear. People complain that they are unsightly, that they are noisy, and that they are dangerous. A 3-year-old at the Ridgetown library answered the question, 'why are 7 of 8 Ontario turtles are at risk?', was because of windmills! It was pretty hilarious, but there's no doubt someone in her family complains about them a lot. In terms of conservation, windmills provide a very real threat to migratory birds.
Obviously this issue is complex. Whether it is an oil refinery, or a 'green' wind turbine, many communities across Canada are being affected by our society's reliance on energy. Conservation is about more than just saving individual animals. We can all do our part to save Ontario reptiles by decreasing our energy usage, which will in turn help the environment
that these reptiles need to survive.