As a nation and as a people, we thirst for electric energy. We are transitioning quickly to a global economy while responding to the serious threat of climate change. As a practicing cardiovascular sub-specialist physician for 33 years, through the last 17 months I have struggled to understand the “best approximation of truth” concerning potential adverse health effects related to exposure to industrial wind turbines. We are an over-committed, sleep-deprived nation with increasing cardiovascular risk factors. A major decision about how industrial wind turbines will be permitted in our county is at hand.
Initial U.S. governmental research in the 1980s showed that industrial wind turbines generate harmful noise emissions at both audible and infrasonic levels. That critical early information was both hidden and forgotten. NEVER have high quality, metrics-driven, controlled trials been done regarding the safety of industrial wind turbines. They have never had research oversight by an Investigation Review Board which are charged with the ethical protection of human research subjects. There was no process to thoroughly evaluate adverse events (commonly now present and increasing in populations closely sited to wind farms), nor was there a Data Monitoring Safety Board that could evaluate, scientifically, those events and judge their health impacts. Such a process that is “science-driven” could generate consensus recommendations to responsible governmental agencies that would guide safe noise exposure parameters. Meanwhile turbines have continued to increase, essentially unregulated, in size and power while leaving human health consequences ignored. The reaction by wind energy – both by contractors and wind turbine manufacturers has been a conscious and systematic practice of denial with irresponsible indifference to the people – especially the more vulnerable members (children, the elderly) around us – that have suffered (and, in my estimation, likely died) due to their forced exposure.
Responsibility for the protection and safety of our citizens has been handed from the federal and state levels to local county governments that have very few resources to understand the complex nature of wind turbine technology and their noise emissions on human and environmental health. County supervisors have relied heavily on wind industry entities for regulation language that protect industrial interests while blatantly ignoring health concerns. Those ordinances, ignoring facts on health impact and rights of private land ownership, discuss a goal of compromise between citizens and industry that is likely IMPOSSIBLE given current massive IWT models on closely-spaced wind farm platting and the non-adaptability of humans (who never evolved as a specie with this environmental threat) to fully cope. We need to protect the land “use integrity” rights of non-participating neighbor’s private land by ensuring that the risks of unseen and often unheard wind turbine infrasound noise does not endanger them.
Supervisors, not infrequently, have become conflicted in presented opportunities for personal financial rewards gained through industry-paid easements. Referendum options often do not exist. Meaningful input from county Boards of Health are discounted. Meanwhile, turbines are put up, people suffer physically and mentally – often insidiously – and living quality is permanently and negatively impacted. We should at least have guidelines that reflect the most current understanding of adverse health effects and, as such, will require much larger separations (certainly greater than 1500 or 2500 feet) of turbine placement from adjoining private property depending on the power generating capacity of the proposed turbine.
We need to actively protect the quality of our sleep that will in turn facilitate greater physical and mental health. Chronic sleep deprivation may unconsciously activate our nervous system in such a way as to promote cardiovascular disease. This is well established with other forms of environmental noise. That information exists now and should be incorporated into proposed ordinances; it is currently absent in the draft proposals.
Citizens of Madison County we need to let our county supervisors know NOW how we feel about the proposed wind turbine ordinance. The Board of Health proposed setbacks (turbine to property line distance of 1.5 miles) that are rational and represent consensus among world-respected experts; many additional considerations need to be also included. Make them hear that this is YOUR county and that you care about your future. Once those turbines are up “side-by-side” and start to spin with the currently proposed operational guidelines, that future is effectively lost.