Danger, pain and more danger

Brian Rogers
Rogers Rabbits

It's not easy to soar like an eagle, while you're surrounded by turkeys.

So goes the old saying. It's also difficult to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by wind turbine blades, researchers are finding.

While wind generation is considered a green solution to power production, it is dangerous to soaring birds such as bald and golden eagles.

The wind turbines have wingspans similar to a Boeing 747 and the blade tips spin at up to 200 miles per hour.

The solution: Hi-tech detection equipment to trigger ground movement, including figures of humans, hoping that the birds' natural aversion to people will cause them to alter course away from the deadly spinning blades.

Incredible, that the answer to this new age problem is centuries old.  A modern version of the scarecrow.

Beer for pain

A news story this week claimed two beers are more effective for pain relief than painkillers.

Over the course of 18 studies, researchers from the University of Greenwich found that consuming two pints of beer can cut discomfort by a quarter, reports the Independent. (A bald eagle struck by a spinning blade may need more than two.)

By elevating your blood alcohol content to approximately 0.08 per cent, you'll give your body “a small elevation of pain threshold” and thus a “moderate to large reduction in pain intensity ratings”.

The researchers explained: “Findings suggest that alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity, which could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain, despite its potential consequences for long-term health.”

It's not clear, however, whether alcohol reduces feelings of pain because it affects brain receptors or because it just lowers anxiety, which then makes us think the pain isn't as bad.

Tidal stairs

There's a bit of bleating about the new Tidal Stairs on the Tauranga waterfront.

Since opening, the stairs and pontoon have been thronging with kids and families, jumping off the pier, enjoying the proximity to the water and generally doing what the Tidal Stairs project aimed to achieve....

Get us closer to our harbour. Bring some life to downtown Tauranga, and it certainly has done that.

But from the outset there have been the usual knockers… some saying it would never be used, some warning people will die. Some ironically saying both.

Now they're being proven wrong, the knockers are wishing and hoping someone cracks their head open, just so they can be proven right.

But it's just concrete. We manage to navigate our way around the rest of the city which is mostly concrete. It's nothing like the danger faced by eagles trying to avoid 200mph spinning blades.

Head first

Sure, it's only a matter of time before someone goes crocs-over-sunhat. A slip or trip or push headfirst onto the concrete. Then the knockers will be in full force reminding us how dangerous this project is.

So following that warped logic, we might as well fence off the entire harbour. Make helmets compulsory around the coastline, just like it is for bike riders.  In fact, fence off the surf beach as well. Plenty of people put their lives at risk in the surf every day. But you don't hear the outcry of protest the same as the Tidal Stairs Knockers are drumming up.

Close all the schools, because too many children are injured or killed on the way there. Ban anything with wheels.

They are a fast track to harm and disaster.  Stay home, but don't do anything while you're there, because 80 per cent of statistics happen in the home. Whatever you do, don't take any risks, not even well calculated ones because that may lead to enjoying yourself, learning about the outside world and its hazards, or generally living life.

Learning experience

The RR view is let them go for it.  There are warning signs about strong currents and other hazards at the stairs.  Yes the concrete will get slippery, just like it does at those dastardly boat ramps. But we still use them at our peril.  Let some blood be spilt on the Tidal Stairs, because guess what… someone will learn from it. Maybe the kid who slips over will be more careful next time. Perhaps his mates watching will learn from it.
Maybe they won't and will continue to come repeatedly unstuck, until they have a fatal mishap. That's called natural selection. And sometimes bad luck.

Eventually, yes, someone may meet their demise while using this part of the harbour. But guess what… that's been happening for hundreds of years. Tauranga folk have been falling in the harbour for centuries.

Some of those probably had more than two beers for pain relief. Whether it be from man-made structures or the natural features, there always has, and probably always will be, casualties.  We can do our best to encourage safety, but it always ends with self-responsibility.

One thing is for sure, for every injury or close call, there will be thousands of people who enjoy and learn from this long-overdue facility on our waterfront.

For too long it's been relegated to a shabby carpark with a user-unfriendly and threatening rock-strewn waterline.  Now at least some of it has some mana.
It's a brilliant project and thousands of families will agree. Even the ones with scars.

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”
- Theodore Roosevelt



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Penumbra on Sunday. Photo: Joan King.

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