A Washington headline Wednesday asks "Is 'Big Wind' making people sick?"
"Everyone would be well served if Colorado led the way on the study of health impacts of commercial scale wind projects," the article states, explaining Colorado's aggressive embrace of wind turbines.
We know only this: The war on energy will not end. No new form of power goes unpunished. When new energy succeeds, it becomes a big new target.
That's why they say "big wind," as activists tilt at windmills.
Early in their crusade against crude and coal, environmentalists demanded more natural gas. Few document this history better than Boulder Weekly editor and environmental author Joel Dyer, who opposes natural gas.
In a 2014 expose on the demise of anti- fracking ballot measures, Dyer partly blamed the success of fracking on "the environmental movement's support for natural gas enthusiasts such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mark Udall and John Hickenlooper, as well as for policies such as Colorado's Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act and the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan that was proposed in June (2014) and based on Colorado's CACJ act."
As producers delivered a steady supply of natural gas, public utilities corporations converted from coal. As the trend grew, anti-energy warriors made gas extraction their primary concern. Cornell biochemist Robert Howarth convinced activists the transition to natural gas does more than coal to cause global warming.
Natural gas "may be worse for the climate than burning coal," states a 2015 PBS article by Phil McKenna.
Utility corporations, under state mandates they support, are responding with wind farms and solar arrays paid for with rate hikes. As wind turbines dot the landscape, opponents organize against them.
The Hill identified Colorado's Xcel Energy as the country's leading provider of wind power. The article documents anti-wind campaigns in Maine, Ontario, New Zealand and our own El Paso County.
The Hill details the grievances of Cindy Cobb and Sandra Wolfe, who live east of Colorado Springs and say windmills have ruined their lives. The small Golden-West wind farm went live in September of 2015, and The Gazette reported on complaints in 2016.
"They report dizziness, nausea, loss of sleep and headaches." The Hill explained. "Cobb adds lethargy and high blood pressure to the list of symptoms, and she fears for her life. the relentless spinning causes stress and loss of sleep."
If turbines kill nearby residents, the victims might as well have black lung disease - a condition caused by coal dust.
The Hill article follows a spate of new opposition:
- A British survey identified turbines as "the most egregious type of architectural blemish across England."
- The French National Academy of Medicine this month concluded: "Wind turbine syndrome . reflects an existential suffering, a psychological distress, in short a violation of the quality of life."
- Canadian environmentalists launched Mothers Against Wind Turbines, Inc., with a mission "to protect communities and the natural environment . "
Perhaps we should live in caves.
Humans need earth's energy to feed populations and advance. All activities of animals, humans and plants cause motion, noise and environmental disruption.
Societies should employ reasonable and sustainable efforts to mitigate pitfalls of power production. They should do so with full understanding that a growing and diverse market of energy options vastly improves life around the globe.