Don Quixote Is Alive And Well In Ontario

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Don Quixote Is Alive And Well In Ontario
Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hanging in the basement of my parents house is a painting of Don Quixote in black oil on canvas. It is haunting in its monochromatic way with an almost drooping style. The characters have no detail but evoke pathos in a unbelievable way. This same feeling I get when I hear of those opposed to wind turbines for possible health reasons. In Ontario, Canada, a new group has arisen by the name of "Victims Of Wind" that rallies to speak for those who have been wronged by the wind farms springing up around the province. And oh boy, has the media ever latched on to this one! Upon hearing over and over again how diabolically terrible wind turbines are for everyone near by, I was finally urged to check out the VOM website/blog by a letter to the editor published in the London Free Press. When I visited the website I left the comment below, which was over three weeks ago and has not been approved by their moderation. I would assume this is because I presented a logical argument that had none of the "think of the children!" effect that their emotionally driven ones did. I was a bit miffed at first, then I realized that my website probably sees one thousand times the traffic in a single day that theirs sees in a month, so it makes far more sense to just post my views here where people will actually see them.

So below is the comment I posted to Victims of wind turbines should unite in reply to their concerns:

I'm not going lie, I'm a big supporter of window power so let's get that out of the way first so that people can form their own opinions as to whether I have an "agenda" in posting this comment.

What I want to know is, where are the scientific and medical studies that confirm that wind turbines are producing negative effects on those who live around them? I have personally seen none, read none and have not experienced these effects when hanging around turbines. Thus I have to assume that there is no solid scientific evidence of negative effects. Of course, turbines are going to produce a healthy dose of sub-audible infra-sound, and a small portion of the population is sensitive to these noises. Yet a staggering number of people (considering the small population around the turbines) have come forward with reports of negative health effects. Far more then (by orders of magnitude) would be sensitive to infra sound.

Human empathy and belief is a powerful drive when any new technology is brought on scene. Those who have been told they may experience negative effects from a turbine will magically begin experiencing them. The placebo effect is a highly powerful and widely recognized medical phenomenon. So much so that often, placebo drugs are just as useful as the real thing. Humans believe en-mass in a large number of crazy things like perpetual motion, magic, religion, and monsters in the closet even though there is no evidence to support these beliefs. People fear odd things like mice, spiders, dogs, snakes, skunks (OK, maybe there's a reason to fear that last one) and the dark even though those things are basically harmless.

Historically, all it takes to get a population to fear a new technology is to introduce a bit of concern over possible negative effects through sources like the mass media (who do not have the skill and knowledge to tell fact from fiction). Suddenly a huge number of people are in horrible discomfort even though a tiny minority (almost statistically insignificant) of them are showing any real effects. And then a tiny minority of that first tiny minority are suffering problems that are bad enough to cause any concern.

So until there are actual studies with hard and fast data (such as a double-blind test), this all reminds me of the people who think their wireless router is frying their brain with microwaves.

Comments From Others

Don Quixote Is Alive And Well In Ontario
Saturday, July 19, 2014
My search of practical information on rotary engines and car restoration often finds me frequenting this little corner of the internet. I have stumbled across this discussion by chance. This is an interesting debate. The bourbon is kicking in and I'm feeling punchy, so "here goes". My profession typically involves helping people with bizarre health problems. In the vast majority of cases, I can usually find a plausible reason why most people are having troubles. (The causation is often obvious, irrespective of being dismissed by their own physician). It seems entirely plausible to me that some people would in fact be negatively effected by the turbines. Furthermore, whether or not it if affects them in any adverse way is difficult to measure. There are a small percentage of individuals, however, that are their "own problem". It is often these same individuals that lack personal accountability and are the first complain when services (such as an electricity) are lacking. These people want the lights to reliably come on at night and yet paradoxically impede alternate means of generating the electricity to power said lights. I do not think it a great leap to suggest that some of these individuals probably revel in the attention that publicly opposing wind turbines draws. With some, it is genuine concern, with others, it is narcissism. I suppose my biggest qualm with the whole idea is whether or not the power source is practical. I am no expert on the subject, but from what I can gather, the turbines have a limited life span relative to the investment that goes into them. I recall construction of said turbines being ironically halted by heavy winds on Wolfe Island (which is not far from here). Furthermore, birds tend to mindlessly fly into them, and frankly, they look like hell. Finally, the damn things require wind to work. So the idea is great in theory, I just question the execution. Our anonymous writer from September of 2009 makes a good point - it is impossible to quantify whether or not there are adverse health affects of turbines. This person accuses Aaron of being illogical and yet writes with emotion. You cant call someone illogical and then "smug and arrogant" in the next breath without being a hypocrite. A solid argument does not involve such juvenile tactics. Consider that the provincial government really encouraged wind and solar investment at ultimate tax payer expense. While this is not necessarily a bad idea, it might have been more prudent to do so when not in an economic recession. The average Joe is going to wind up footing the bill, homonym not-withstanding.

(Editor's notes: I agree, but we can prove whether or not people are negatively effected. A double blind experiment with a house full of "turbine sufferers" beside a turbine. Then randomly turn the turbine on and off over a period of a few weeks with the windows blanked out so no one knows when it's running. Have them log their discomfort. Then at the end, confront them with the fact that the turbine was never actually turned on! Ha! I also agree that Ontario is now overbuilding their wind power. We need more baseline power sources, not more unpredictable ones at this point. And turbine owners are being paid too much for the power they generate. I say build another reactor at Bruce (already the largest nuclear facility in the world I believe) and split more uranium!)

Don Quixote Is Alive And Well In Ontario
Friday, September 04, 2009
Your argument isn't logical at all. You are just another of many who have not looked into the information at all and simply formed your opinion based on simple idealogy. Wind - good. End of discussion. Would you please explain to me how a "double blind" study could possibly be conducted in this issue. It's impossible. Have you read anything on the work of Dr. Amanda Harry, Dr. Nissembaum, the Minnesota Health Department of Health, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, etc., etc? No, I doubt it. Have you spoken or read of what many of the people are going through here in Ontario due to irresponsible siting? It must be very comforting to be so smug and arrogant and yet know so little. People like yourself are really a dime a dozen.

(Editor's notes: I'm far more educated on the issue then you could ever imagine. )

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