Collateral damage of the Green War

By Paul Breschuk,  Features Editor
University of Windsor Lance

Instead of jumping at the chance to make some easy money, Colette McLean sat back and asked questions. She started with the energy company that initially approached her, asking about the impacts of installing a wind turbine on her Harrow farm. The company could not guarantee who would pay for the eventual decommissioning costs, or who would cover the damage done to her farm by a possible oil leak or structural failure. Nor were any assurances made regarding the turbine’s impact property value.

Unsatisfied by this, she began her own research, finding local watchdog internet groups as well as talking with residents who live with wind turbines. For McLean, the common theme was, “they are not worth it.”

While the sentiment was not completely universal, stories of families being chased from their homes were enough to sway her against installing a wind turbine. Her fear of sinking property value was also validated, with houses near wind turbines becoming real estate dead zones.

“It has already happened in other areas,” said McLean. “Up in Amaranth, a real estate agent showed that the average home value decreased by 40 percent after three years of operation. And it took twice as long for many of these houses to be sold.”

More shocking, however, was the sense of desperation these residents were exhibiting. The pain was obviously coming from somewhere deeper, past their pocketbooks.

“With some of these people I have talked to across Ontario, it is hard to say they are not suffering. People are crying. They do not know how to get the situation resolved. When people need to leave their homes in order to get some respite, that is a problem,” said McLean.

Clearly, these homeowners were fleeing from something more disturbing than just mere annoyance. Wind farms were obviously diminishing their quality of life and affecting their health. But it was happening in ways they could not understand.

It took the work of Dr. Nina Pierpont, a John Hopkins trained M.D., to offer a scientific perspective which gave credence to these sufferers. In her 2009 report, Wind Turbine Syndrome, she proved causality between wind farms and the adverse health of nearby residents.

Aside from the report’s off-putting title, as anything ending in “syndrome” is a red flag to the skeptics of our over-diagnosed age, Pierpont makes clear the dangers of living close to a wind turbine. Her case studies are filled with complaints of sleep disturbance, vertigo, fatigue, and a slew of other problems.

Initial blame for these adverse reactions was leveled against wind turbine noise, often a loud and unnatural “whooshing” sound compared to that of a jet engine. And while it was at least conceivable that this could occasionally irritate residents, the cause for the more debilitating health effects was, oddly enough, an inaudible one.

Multiple independent studies have found the turbine noise to contain unusually high levels of very low frequency sound, or infrasound. This type of sound is not heard by the ears, but felt in different parts of the body as vibrations or pressures.

Earplugs, then, offer no protection. Nor does retreating inside your house on windy days. In fact, the negative effects of wind turbine infrasound are actually increased when experienced indoors. This is caused by the walls of the house acting as conductors, trapping in the vibrations which eventually make people sick.

Eric Rosenbloom, President of National Wind Watch, has seen the effects this has had on families living near wind turbines.

“The low frequency aspect of the noise often resonates inside a house forcing some people to sleep outside in a tent,” said Rosenbloom. “The rhythmic low frequency noise makes some people sick, attested to most dramatically by those who have abandoned their homes. When they leave the area, their symptoms abate. When they return, the symptoms resume. There is no doubt about the cause.”

Carmen Krogh, retired pharmacist and founding member of the Society for Wind Vigilance, has also witnessed the surprising, disruptive effects.

“Some sleep in cars, tents, trailers at the back of their property, or with friends and relatives. Some have safe houses,” said Krogh. “Parents report children getting nose bleeds, headaches, and sleep disturbance. Vomiting, ear pain, and balance issues are also reported.”

Another problem occurs when the sun is setting behind a wind turbine, creating what is known as “shadow flicker.” During these times, shadows from the blades streak across one’s property, causing the sun to act like a giant strobe light. This disorienting effect makes it difficult for anyone to remain outdoors. Instead, the home owners must bunker themselves inside, drawing the blinds and turning on lights until the tortuous affair is complete.

For many, however, the deterioration of home life becomes too extreme to bear. Krogh explained how some families have been billeted in other homes for up to six or more months at the wind developer’s expense. Though, for those who would rather lose out economically than face the prolonged health burden, they have agreed to property buyouts by the developer. The buyouts, however, come with a gag order.

Rosenbloom maintains that the wind energy companies are not exactly friends of the environment.

“BP, of course, is a major wind developer. And the spokesman for mid-Atlantic wind developers, Frank Maisano, is a longtime anti regulatory coal lobbyist. The largest turbine manufacturer in the U.S. is GE which is hardly known to be full of green warriors. Even Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown and Root division is at the forefront of offshore wind construction,” said Rosenbloom.

Regarding wind turbines, other environmental concerns include the destruction of large sections of forest and wetlands, invasive industrialization of undeveloped rural and wild areas, disruption of bird migration routes, increased runoff, and the loss and fragmentation of habitat.

“Because of the intermittency and variability of the wind, conventional power plants must be kept running at full capacity to meet the actual demand for electricity,” said Rosenbloom. “Most cannot simply be turned on and off as the wind dies and rises, and the quick ramping up and down of those that can would actually increase their output of pollution and carbon dioxide CO2, the primary greenhouse gas.”

Wind energy, no matter how many turbines are built, will always require the burning of natural gas.

In a 2004 report written by Dr. J.T. Rogers, professor-emeritus at Carlton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, he writes, “The low intensity of wind power results in a requirement for many large wind turbines to generate any significant power.” Based on his data, he suggests that for wind to match coal energy in Ontario, wind farms “would require a total area of about 1,900 square kilometers, about three times the size of metropolitan Toronto.”

Many opponents to wind energy see it as nothing more than an opportunistic cash grab that will hurt the economy and the taxpayers more than it helps the environment.

“It is all about making money. A handful of developers are making big bucks off the taxpayers’ backs while the farmers that sign up make a little money too,” said McLean as she worriedly eyes up the turbines dotting the horizon. She is especially concerned with the three turbines located within a kilometer from her home, the closest being 645 meters from her back door.

The supporters of residential wind turbines have clearly accepted the sacrifice of the few for the benefit of the many. Colette McLean and her neighbours are that few.

They are the collateral damage in the green war. And unfortunately, there is also a war of ideas which forces them to swim like salmon up the backwards current of public opinion. If only that current’s energy could be diverted and processed through a green hydro station instead of a wind farm.

“Green is the new religion and people just want to do something positive,” said McLean. “These [turbines] are really great visuals that trick us into believe something positive is being done. But this also leads to a reluctance to think critically, thus causing the benefits of wind to become widely and irresponsibly overstated.”

13 thoughts on “Collateral damage of the Green War

  1. No matter how much money the Wind Industry and Government pump into their propaganda machine to sell this crap the TRUTH will always trump the LIES!

    Just like the so called “report” on the major news media outlets over the last couple of days keep saying that the majority of Ontario voters still believe in McGuinty!

    RIGHT!……………every time I even mention that name everyone around me starts cursing!

    I have not heard one single person say McGuinty’s name without using a foul descriptive adjective to go with his name for the past year…………

    So much for falsehoods!..Wind and Government…….your days are numbered!!!!!!!

  2. Bravo!!!
    Great article –
    a “must read” for those phoney greens!

  3. The problem as I see it is the people in the cities do not realize that wind power is not GREEN. Therefore I feel that we need to educate them. We need to emphasize the facts that they are not green and the cost to us is incredably high. Also the cost of doing business in this province is going to skyrocket. I believe the other issues are just as (or more, in the case of health issues) important but they do not affect as many people. We need to get some ad people on our side so we can afford to properly do so. Getting the majority of people on our side is the best way to stop the stupidity (or the stupid)….

  4. The Lieutenant Govenor of Ontario:

    “The representative of the Crown also has the power to dismiss or force the resignation of the Prime Minister or Premier. This is one of the most sensitive decisions that any …Lieutenant Governor can be called upon to make. It is made only under the most serious circumstances. For example, if a … Premier were to lose the support of a majority in the legislative body on a vote of non-confidence and then refuse to resign, there could be justification for dismissal. In a broader application, a Prime Minister or the government could be dismissed if the Governor General believes an exceptional situation has created a crisis of confidence in government.
    http://www.pch.gc.ca/queen/crnCdn/104-eng.c

    Is it time?

  5. The LG is nothing more than a “toothless” appointment that represents a position that “appears” to represent the British Heritage that was once the basis of Legislation in our Province and Country.

    Today it is just a “show” for the masses so they “feel” a Crown connection.

    Our Provincial Government has become a completely “disconnected” entity from the common citizen and represents Industry over the wishes of the Public!

    In most countries when this happens it is called a “Tyranny”!

  6. I have to respectfully disagree, Quixote. The Governor General of Canada recently exercised these “reserve powers” when she prorogued Parliament.

    “This power has been exercised on five occasions in Canadian provinces: Québec in 1878 and 1891 and British Columbia in 1898, 1900 and 1903. This power has not been used in Canada for the federal government, but it was exercised in another Realm of the Commonwealth: by the Governor General of Australia, in 1975.”

    http://www.pch.gc.ca/queen/crnCdn/104-eng.cfm
    Hopefully this link works, as the previous one does not.

    An online petition presented to the sitting political parties and to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario would be a concrete first step in restoring “government by the people, for the people”.

  7. The Green Energy Act was misnamed….It is a political marketing gimmick….It should have realistically been called what it really represents….”The War Against Affordable Energy”….

    There is nothing GREEN in spending over $20 Billion of TaxPayer monies to produce no new energy….and then exponentially increasing everyone’s rates and taxes to pay for the same amount of energy that was available previously…

    It could also be called the Ontario Liberal “War against Rural Ontario”

  8. Hey Lynne ………..agreed….I was referring to the LG or The Lieutenant Govenor of Ontario not the GG of Canada.

    I wrote him a personal e mail the week before he gave assent to the Green Energy Act and asked him not give it Royal Assent because it was harmful to the Ontario People and basically killed our Democratic process that was entrenched from the time of the BNA in 1867! He “could have” and become a hero in the process.

    I never even had the courtesy of a reply!

  9. Yes Quixote, I have no doubt that it would require an enormous amount of public pressure to get the L-G to act. The fact that no senior member of the Liberal Caucus has come forward to explain why the anti-rackets squads were raiding provincial ministries is a disgrace. I’m not sure how such a situation can go on for much longer.

  10. The Green Energy Act is based on crony capitalism….Our government is playing footsie with South Korea and the Energy companies…

    We all remember when oil was $30 a barrel….It is now over $70 a barrel…

    The big lie was that if you increase energy / oil costs then you would bring more development and energy to market…..

    This is false and a total lie…The average amount of energy / oil has been declining by about 5% per year despite higher prices.

    Increased energy costs doesn’t bring more energy supply to market….it just increases costs..

    By engaging in the crony capitalism in the Fake Green Energy Act and spending over $20 Billion, the Ontario Liberals only made profits for Samsung and South Korea and the Energy companies….

    We will not yield any new energy and our energy costs will continue to rise as a result of the $20 Billion spent by the Ontario Liberals.

    The citizens of Ontario will get stuck with the I.O.U. Right now it’s not Tax and Spend Liberals…..it’s Borrow and Spend Liberals….and the profits handed off to South Korea and the other energy companies will be added to the Provincial Debt for you and your offspring to pay…

    Our Ontario Government should not be engaging in Crony capitalism with Socialist style interference in the energy markets …because they are failed “GREEN” ideologues….

  11. Randy has a very solid point in that Ontario will not yield any new energy with the spending of $20 billion plus.
    The capacity rating of industrial wind is meaningless when the wind does not blow, blows too hard or does not blow when power is needed. The best guess 30% annual production factor means a lot less if the power was produced when not needed. Most of the time we are paying for industrial wind turbines to just be on the landscape for show and no other reason.

  12. Lynne Knuth talks about human collateral damage within the war zone of industrail wind turbines writing: “Ann Wirtz has reported reproductive problems in her alpacas. Since the wind farm became operational, they have not been able to accomplish a live birth – pregnancy always results in miscarriage or stillbirth. There are other reports of chickens no longer laying eggs, and there may be more reports of reproductive effects of which I am not aware.

    People living in the Lincoln Township wind complex have reported an inability to conceive. It appears, from the scientific literature, that vibration is a reproductive hazard which can result in miscarriage, stillbirth and other changes in the reproductive system of women (Balichiyeva, 1993, Marinova, 1976, Penkov, 2007, Seidel, 1993).
    In rats it can reduce the blood flow to the reproductive organs (Nakamura 1996). What happens to little girls growing up in the wind farms, experiencing the continual “deep base” type vibration that people feel in their bodies and the microseismic vibrations? Are their reproductive organs affected? What about their egg cells experiencing the low frequency sound and vibration, a combination which could be genotoxic? Girls are born with all the egg cells they will ever have.

    To my knowledge, no one has even studied the fertility rates or rates of birth defects in people and animals in wind farms, or in people exposed to wind farms. We need concrete scientific proof that the vibration, acoustic and electrical pollution created by wind farms will not cause disease, birth defects or infertility in anyone, before continuing to build them.” As taken from Lynne Knuth, PhD ,Reedsville, WI at http://betterplan.squarespace.com/todays-special/tag/wind-farm-health-effects?currentPage=4

  13. So the question is: Do people of Ontario Support Wind Power?

    (This really is about the original post — just keep reading.)

    According to IPSOS-REID they do. See here:
    http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/ipsosreid_ontariosurvey.pdf

    So now the question is: Why?

    Perhaps people can think about the question: What is survey bias?

    For example did the survey examine the issue of whether or not the respondents actually knew anything about wind-power and the related issues? Noise, infra-sound, ability to replace other power, the need for watt-for-watt standby power.

    See what you can spot when you look at the article above and the survey results. How was it possible to generate the “required answers” — which is the fundamental principle of “climate science” — i.e. generating the required answers.

    Then, when you are finished the exercise, answer the following question: In what scientific endeavor is it considered good practice to engage in research that generates the answers you wish to hear?

    Second question: To generate answers on which to base public policy is it good practice to design a survey that generates the answer that YOU wish to hear — exclusive of: reality; truth; good legal practice; science fundamentals or any other principle you wish to mention that contributes towards good governance.

    Just curious…

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