Monday, November 15, 2010

Anyway, the Wind Blows

A Star Tribune op-ed from a few days ago sounded an alarmist note about the health risks of wind turbines. Hmm, I thought, the author's arguments about "infrasonic" noise remind me of the BoingBoing story about "electrosensitives" who claimed health effects even when a nearby radio tower was turned off for weeks.

Then today's Strib included a rejoinder from Dan Turner of Windustry, a nonprofit group that advocates for community-scale wind power. After briefly describing the lack of evidence that turbine noise can be sorted out from the ambient sound of wind in the trees, Turner wrote:

No one should be under any illusion that utility-scale wind turbines do not change the landscape. They are multimillion-dollar power plants hundreds of feet high... Wind turbines of this sort typically fit very well into a rural, agricultural landscape, with no significant impact on the agricultural use of the land and significant positive economic impacts on the community.

By contrast, our use of fossil fuels causes extensive environmental damage, such as death to our lakes from acidification and dramatic increases in the mercury content of our fish to the point where advisories against eating them are common. The serious, scientifically proven negative health effects caused by the use of fossil fuels are staggering: black lung disease, mining disasters, explosions, mercury poisoning, exacerbation of a wide variety of illnesses -- the list goes on.
Thanks to Turner and Windustry for reminding us all that we don't need a big metal tower nearby to suffer real effects from energy generation.

1 comment:

Blythe Woolston said...

In Holland, there are many wind turbines. There are also many swans, singing birds, cows in pastures, and a generally pleasant agricultural landscape. There are the traditional windmills, too. I noticed here in Montana that the people raising the loudest hullabaloo about the environmental/aesthetic damage to come from the wind farms don't seem to consider the more dramatic instances of wildlife kills, aquifer poisoning, and uglification related to other power sources.

As for the infrasonic dangers. It took me two minutes to discover that one of the primary sources of claims that turbines cause migraines etc. essentially lied about the peer-review process of her research. I find that telling.