Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Answer Is Blowing In The Wind

Is it all psychological?
A new Australian study says 'wind turbine sickness' is far more common once the idea of that 'illness' has been planted in people's minds.
Yet, says the Sydney Morning Herald, 63% of Oz's 49 wind farms have never been the subject of any health complaints. It found two-thirds of the 120 complaints that have been made, came from residents near wind farms that had been heavily targeted by the anti-wind farm lobby, and that "the advent of anti-wind farm groups beginning to foment concerns about health (from around 2009) was also strongly correlated with actual complaints being made."
Where's the Man Of La Mancha now?
So is this due to good info...or mere paranoia? Study author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney Uni., says this suggests 'wind turbine sickness' is a "communicated disease" – a sickness spread by the claim that something may make a person sick. This is caused by the 'nocebo effect' (the opposite of the placebo effect) where the belief something would cause an illness creates the perception of illness.
He found a much greater correlation between negative attitudes to wind turbines and reports of sickness than any "objective measures of actual exposure."
He says studies suggest that once a label is attached to a supposed malady, its spread is much more rapid - names like Wind Turbine Syndrome, Vibro Acoustic Disease and Visceral Vibratory Vestibular Disturbance. And he cites a recent NZ study in which volunteers were exposed to actual 'infrasound' (the sub-audible noise from wind farms claimed to cause health problems) and others to complete silence, which they had been told was infrasound. In both cases, those told about the potential harmful effects of infrasound were more likely to report symptoms.
The most recent Oz Senate inquiry found no causal link between wind farm wind and symptoms reported by those who lived nearby, but accepted that people were reporting they felt unwell. Some residents continue to report sleep deprivation, stress and serious long-term health problems.
So is it all in the mind? Are the folk living near wind farms just Don Quixotes jousting at ferocious windmills? Is their solution merely to embrace new technology that harnesses free energy? Build a nuke power station? Consider 'the greater good'? Or wait 30 years until another study proves them right (meanwhile they've all gone mad with the supposed condition)?
Or should they simply move away and get over themselves?

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