Do Your Wind Power Homework

Timlynn Babitsky | Health Problems,Issues: Strategies & Tactics | Monday, August 18th, 2008

by Timlynn Babitsky
For every pro-wind power benefit, there are anti-wind power issues lined up on the other side. There will always be opposition and objections to any issue. The challenge is to be able to separate truth from fiction and facts from opinions. To do this, you have GOT to do your homework. Take “wind power syndrome” for example.      

Tunnel vision is a real hazard of community wind power organizing. When you are passionate about wind power, your view of every thing around it can get mighty hazy. You might hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see and pooh-pooh competing information. The problem is that YOU may not see/hear alternative viewpoints, but others in your community will not be so blind or deaf. And, your credibility can be gained or lost if you are not well prepared with real information…. information on both sides of the wind power vista.

Arguments based on incomplete information, personal bias, hearsay, and ill-conceived assumptions are a danger. Like the game “gossip” we played as children, the information that gets passed along to the next person tends to change with each new telling. You have to do your own homework.

You must gather all the information you can to support your own focus, but that’s not enough. You will not be successful if you research only your side of an issue without fully understanding the many other sides that also make up The Big Picture in which your issue is embedded.

You must also be prepared for opposition and objections. There will always be opposition and objections. No matter how absolutely “right and justified” you believe wind power to be, someone will be negatively impacted by it. You have to put on the hat of the person who stands to lose something. Understand what is important to them, and work hard to find a way so that you both can win.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited with saying:
“You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Elsewhere on this website under the Issues: Strategies and Tactics link, you will see some of the key issues raised against wind power projects. If you are working on a wind power project that is facing resistance, you can be absolutely sure that those who do not want your project will raise every single issue (relevant or not) to try to block your project, and any new issues as soon as they emerge. It is vital that you stay on top of information related to the typical issues against wind power, but that you also keep your eyes peeled constantly for the next, New Argument.

Take for example, the latest slam to wind power projects based on fear of dire health consequences.

Dr. Nina Pierpont of Malone, N.Y., coined the phrase and has written a book on “wind turbine syndrome“  –  what she says happens to some people living near wind energy farms. Pierpont’s research (piqued by a wind farm being built near her upstate New York home) suggests that low-frequency noise and vibration generated by wind machines can trigger: headaches, sleep disorders, ringing in the ears, learning and mood disorders, panic attacks, irritability, disruption of equilibrium/concentration/memory, and childhood behavior problems.  (What? No EDS?)

Based on her study of only TEN families living near wind turbines built since 2004 in Canada, England, Ireland, Italy and the United States (A total of 10 families in 5 countries; is that 2 families per country?), she’s now written a book (due out in September).  Wind Turbine Syndrome will provide yet one more bullet for the anti-wind factions, and send fear enough through the public to seriously delay wind power projects and wind power support with yet one more issue that you will have to research and debunk to win approval.

If you take some time to read Dr. Pierpont’s Testimony before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee about “wind turbine syndrome” you can see some of the emotional factors that drove her findings and that this is NOT a widespread “syndrome” that should be allowed to stop or delay wind farm development.

However, a quick search on Google will show you that the anti-wind folks are already embracing “wind turbine syndrome”. And Dr. Pierpont has moved her two provocative “wind turbine syndrome” photos and a small handful of support letters from her  personal website to a wind turbine syndrome website, complete with “buy the book” links.

As one of the Republican conservative news blogs crowed just this week, “Now, maybe this condition has no scientific basis and represents only a new market for the tort industry. But either way, it’s not good news for wind power.”

Be prepared. The media is already picking up “wind turbine syndrome” and treating it as fact. And book sales are book sales, especially if you are a tiny Santa Fe NM publisher and a well educated rural country doctor who runs her medical practice out of a room in her home.

Do your homework -  early, deeply, and continuously!

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