Green Party gets lost in the static

The election of Elizabeth May as Canada’s first-ever Green Party MP was supposed to be a breakthrough for environmental issues. Too bad she blew it.

B.C. Green Party leader Jane Sterk campaigned in the 2009 election for implementation of smart meters.

VICTORIA – The election of Elizabeth May as Canada’s first-ever Green Party MP was supposed to be a breakthrough for environmental issues.

Finally embraced by voters in the organic farming region of Saanich-Gulf Islands, May was given a mandate to change the political conversation about sustainable development, climate change and pollution. The breakthrough might even translate to the provincial level, where Jane Sterk is the latest of a line of B.C. Green leaders to toil in obscurity.

It’s too bad they both threw away their scientific credibility last week, by chiming in with the tiny tinfoil-hat movement and its trumped-up opposition to BC Hydro’s transition to wireless meters.

May got the tinfoil ball rolling by decrying the use of wireless internet. It might be contributing to bee colony collapse, she mused on Twitter, to much ridicule. Apparently she believes that using a computer connected by a wire keeps her free from the radio waves that surround us all. They are generated not only by computers, cell phones and smart meters but all sources of light, including the infrared light that accompanies body heat.

May then cited the much-hyped revelation that the World Health Organization has listed radio-frequency waves as a possible carcinogen. Radio waves such as those generated by cell phones and wireless routers were moved to a classification called 2B, which also includes such volatile substances as pickled vegetables.

What this actually means is that health effects can’t be ruled out. It’s impossible to prove that something’s impossible. But after many years of study, the evidence that cell phones and such devices cause illness remains at precisely zero.

With May alongside, Sterk called a news conference last week to demand a halt to BC Hydro’s smart meter program. The first question from a reporter was, why are you reversing the BC Greens’ 2009 election platform, which called for installation of smart meters by 2012, followed by imposition of time-of-use electricity pricing to reduce consumption?

Sterk expressed surprise, apparently having forgotten her own position from only two years ago. Political credibility takes years to build but only seconds to destroy.

I attended the B.C. Green Party’s 2007 leadership convention at which Sterk was elected. It came after a long and divisive debate over whether cell phones could be used at the meeting. They were finally allowed, but this “issue” apparently took up more time than any policy discussion.

Why is BC Hydro putting in smart meters? First, mechanical meters are obsolete and soon won’t be available. Second, B.C. is about twice as big as Germany. Finding, let alone fixing damaged power lines is a monumental task. A smart grid (much more than just digital meters) is not only self-assessing, it can be made self-healing, rerouting power to blacked-out areas when weather, transformer failure or vehicle accidents cut power.

Do smart meters continuously communicate with a “mother ship,” as some claim? Do they record when you get up at night to pee? No and no. These are the kinds of nonsense claims that surround the smart meter issue.

BC Hydro says four to six transmissions from a smart meter to a local hub each day amount to about a minute in total. Radio wave exposure is equivalent to a half-hour cell phone call every 20 years.

The British National Cancer Institute just published an extensive study of children with brain tumours and exposure to cell phones. Like previous studies, it found no correlation.

Somebody should send a postcard to the Green Party and tell them about it.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

Just Posted

Campbell River RCMP respond to complaints of animals in hot vehicles or needing water

Police warn of animal cruelty charges but caution against taking the law into your own hands

North Island College holding information session on new culinary diploma

Get a sneak peek at the new culinary kitchen at the Campbell River campus

Stone re-joins Campbell River Storm as head coach/GM

Team also hires former player as associate coach/assistant general manager

Removal of old Elk Falls parking lots underway

Already replaced by the new access to the suspension bridge

Museum Day gives visitors rare glimpse of collection

Campbell River’s museum had opened its artifacts room to visitors once before

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

Survey finds 15% of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Ottawa spending $24.5M to research on health benefits, risks of pot use

$390,000 will fund two cannabis public awareness

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Trudeau’s action plan on climate change brings B.C. politician out of retirement

Terry Lake, a former B.C. health minister, is running for federal office in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

Most Read