I often wonder if my experience living near windmills would have been different had I been inundated with the anti-wind message before we bought our home. If I had heard the ‘wind farms make people sick’ message over and over again, would that have changed my perception of reality? It’s hard for me to say. I consider myself a critical and analytical thinker. I am intelligent. I don’t fall for things easily. I may nod my head just to get through a silly conversation when I know the other party is completely irrational or beyond reproach, but I’m not going to believe anything at face value when I have doubts. I try to research things before I form judgement.
Wind power is a fairly new method of power generation in Canada. New things are scary. Humans have an inherent fear of the unknown. Many people also fear change. The anti-wind groups have taken advantage of these emotions and perfected the art of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the health effects of wind energy. Anti-wind groups prey on those who are uncertain and uneducated about wind power. Working in wind, I have heard the most ridiculous claims about wind power. I have had to try very hard to keep my jaw from dropping in awe; I find it hard to comprehend how people can believe such utter crap. None of these things are worth repeating, as they do not deserve any more spread than they’ve already received. That, and the sheer idiocy would likely cause some blog readers to immediately bash their head on the nearest solid surface.
I am not writing this blog as a scientist, a doctor, an engineer or an accoustician. I don’t need to say the same things that science has said over and over again. The fact of the matter is this: The balance of peer-reviewed scientific evidence states that windmills / wind farms pose no risk to human health. None. Zip. Zero. Science wins over anecdotal evidence every time, unless of course you are part of an anti-wind group. There are plenty of scientific studies on the very real negative health impacts of fossil fuel burning and nuclear, but people are used to those sources of power. Ever wonder why all the anti-wind court cases get thrown out? There is NO real evidence with which they can win a case to stop development!
I watched one anti-wind court case with particular fascination because the people who were suing the wind farm’s parent company lived in my old neighborhood. This family was claiming to suffer all sorts of health problems since the windmills went up near their home. As I said, I lived quite close to these people at one point. Their home was located directly beside a rail line where freight trains would pass frequently. There was a railway crossing at the edge of their property where the train would sound it’s horn. The train would also sound at 3 other crossings nearby, all of which were audible from this property. The home which these people inhabited had no siding on it (and had been that way for years). Do I need to point out the blatantly obvious problems with this scenario? No? I didn’t think so.
I’m going to say something here that may seem shocking, but hear me out. People who live near wind turbines are suffering from real health issues. People are losing sleep, experiencing headaches, nausea and so on. The reason for this is what’s important here. Windmills are not making people sick. A person’s fear that they will be made sick by windmills is making them sick. The very messages that anti-wind groups spread are causing these symptoms. Our mind is a powerful thing. Dr Clifton Meador, of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville in the U.S, said fear can turn into self-fulfilling prophecy. “Bad news promotes bad physiology. I think that you can persuade people that they’re going to die and have it happen. I don’t think there is anything mystical about it. We’re uncomfortable with the idea that words or symbolic actions can cause death because it changes our biomolecular model of the world.”* Now death is a little extreme for what we’re discussing here, but it solidifies my point.
What if I been told that windmills would make me sick, make my dog sick, make my family sick, etc, over and over again until I believed it? Would living here, looking out at the things that supposedly make me sick every day, make me sick? If I truly believed in it, yes, I have no doubt that I would make myself sick. I would stress myself out thinking about these windmills making me sick. I wouldn’t sleep. I would give myself headaches. I would be filled with worry and anxiety. If my dog threw up (which is perfectly routine around here), I would believe that it was because of the windmills. In a situation where I am anxious or stressed about something I tend to develop a headache, so if I was stressed out by the windmills it makes perfect sense that I would have that happen. The symptoms are real. The cause has been wrongly attributed. Anti-wind groups are at the root of this suffering, planting seeds of doubt and fear in people’s minds until it manifests itself in illness.
I will say that I do believe that in earlier days of wind development some poorly placed windmills, some that were improperly installed or poorly designed could have been responsible for real issues. There are handful of people who have had real experiences that need to be learned from. In this article I am discussing the present day issue of widespread fear of wind energy and the consequences of that. I am pointing an accusing finger at the anti-wind groups. This has not been an easy thing for me to sit down and write, but I felt it was absolutely necessary. People need to think critically, do their homework and be realistic. Everyone needs a chance to educate themselves on wind energy before an anti-wind group convinces them that windmills are evil things that will cause harm. That is not reality.
There is so much more that can be said on this topic, but I don’t wish to dive in to politics, start dissecting research papers or quoting scientific studies. That has already been done. My mission is to quell fears, destroy doubts and satisfy uncertainties. My husband, my dog and myself live among windmills. We have worked underneath them for months on end. We have neighbors and friends who live in even closer proximity than we do. I am friends with turbine technicians and tradespeople who have spent countless hours inside nacelles, 80 meters in the air. We are all fine. We are happy. We are healthy. We chose to believe in science instead of scare tactics.