We’ve seen this before with other new technologies. People are primed to attribute cause to the new thing, especially when they are told how “awful” it is.
Sickness being attributed to wind turbines is more likely to have been caused by people getting alarmed at the health warnings circulated by activists, an Australian study has found.
Complaints of illness were far more prevalent in communities targeted by anti-windfarm groups, said the report’s author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University. His report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.
The report, which is the first study of the history of complaints about windfarms in Australia, found that 63% had never been subject to noise or health complaints. In the state of Western Australia, where there are 13 windfarms, there have been no complaints.
Chapman said that if wind farms did genuinely make people ill there would by now be a large body of medical evidence that would preclude putting them near inhabited areas. Eighteen reviews of the research literature on wind turbines and health published since 2003 had all reached the broad conclusion that there was very little evidence they were directly harmful to health.
I’m thinking the same would apply to fear of electromagnetic frequencies like WIFi or smart meters.
The study found that the majority of complaints came from residents that were specifically targeted by windmill opponent groups. More complaints about health and noise began after the groups “began to add health concerns to their wider opposition”. This is a phenomena called priming when they now have a cause to connect to any anomaly.
The Australian national group that opposes windfarms, the Waubra Foundation, alleges that serious medical conditions have been identified in people living, working or visiting within six miles of wind turbines. Symptoms include sleep deprivation, hypertension, heart attacks and depression that they correlate with the operation of the windfarms. But a less biased assessment apparently says otherwise. This is not surprising. People fear new technology. Wifi, smart meters, microwaves, cell phone towers, electric pylons, GM foods – they all have detractors but the claims do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
There is the possibility that infrasound or other vibration might cause issues for some people in some areas but this is measurable and can be corrected.