I have been an on-again, off-again Green Party supporter for years. At times “on” enough that I was active in my local federal EDA, and have supported local Green candidates. Anyone who reads this blog will know I am prone to seeking the “green” solution to problems, which to me means the solution closest to Aristotle’s “Golden Mean”: between the three legs of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental concerns. Look it up, if that means nothing to you.
I am also convinced that the only way to find that Golden Mean is through rational discussion of scientifically valid data. Any decision made based on bad data is likely to be a bad decision. This is why I have railed on about the Conservative Party’s war on science: they don’t want information that does not support their ideology, and therefore, they make a lot of bad decisions.
Of course, all political parties are prone to bad decisions, and most have an underlying ideology that prevents them from creating policy based solely on accurate analysis of good information. That’s the party system, and that is the reality of Canadian politics. However, I have found on most issues, the Green Party has policy based closest to the rational advice that would be give by scientific experts in the field. Some would argue they alone have that luxury, as they will never actually have to worry about finding enough votes to actually get elected, but they used to say that about the NDP.
This week, however, the Green Party jumped the shark in my mind. Both federal leader Elizabeth May and Provincial leader Jane Sterk this week came out against electricity. They have aligned themselves with one of Canada’s most notorious pseudo-scientists, Magda Havas, by regurgitating the long-debunked link between electromagnetic waves and cancer and other ailments. This is so far from the scientific truth of the matter, that they may as well have come out against leprechauns.
Provincially, we saw Jane Stark standing beside Magda Havas and calling for an end to the Smart Meter program because of “health and environmental concerns”. Here is the Green Party throwing a science-based approach out the window and aligning themselves with the scare-mongering denizens of wingnuttia. Havas has linked EMF to everything from cancer to MS to diabetes over the years, all the time helping her friend sell “electronic filters” that remove “dirty electricity”. Havas’ claims about smart meters are so far from a science-based approach that I simply cannot square it with rational policy at any level. Havas is a snake-oil sales person, a shameless self-promoter, and, wost of all, a terrible scientist.
Now, before writing this post, I sent an e-mail to Jane Sterk’s website. I was actually shocked that she e-mailed me back personally within a couple of hours. In her response, she raised some interesting discussion points about the accountability around the contract to deliver the meters, about the business case for the potential savings, about BC Hydro not having a real plan to take advantage of the meters. These are excellent points, but not what my complaint was about. For the record, I am decidedly agnostic about Smart Meters. Seems like it is a useful technology to encourage electricity conservation through flexible billing, and it seems they could help with leakage control, but whether the business case can be made, I’m not sure. But none of this addresses the central complaint that he opposition argument is based on the irrational ravings of a pseudo-scientific whack-a-loon. This is not a foundation upon which to base policy.
Worse, the rational discussion we should be having about the business case for Smart Meters and the need for household electricity conservation will be drowned out by the silly sideshow of Smart Meters allegedly causing cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and MS (all claims made by Havas). Enter “Green Party Smart Meters” into Google, and scan though the first 100 hits. You can see that there has been no pick-up on the potentially valid economic or energy policy concerns you mention above. Instead, rational debate is lost in a fog of pseudo-science, playing directly into Magda Havas’ hands (and potentially building a great market for EMF filters specifically designed for Smart Meters… patent pending, suckers!).
Ms. Stark also suggested in her e-mail to me that Hydro should provide the option for hard-wired meters for those concerned about EMF, which, of course, does nothing to support her arguments that the business case is not right, and again reinforces the idea that Smart Meters will kill you.
I should also note that Ms. Stark’s e-mail to me was followed by a ubiquitous tag, so common as to be not be noticeable, but relevant to this discussion:
“Sent from my iPhone”
Presumably, that iPhone was plugged into a wall and not emitting microwaves…