In the 42-minute video a Scituate family recorded of their yard and home, viewers see a well-landscaped lawn, a farmer’s porch with white rockers that afford a partial view of the nearby marsh and, a mere 640 feet away, a 390-foot wind turbine, with its three blades rotating around and around and around. Across the length of the yard, the shadow from those blades crossing the sun flicker across the yard in a dizzying fashion.
The video, recorded over a two-hour period in December and posted to YouTube in January, then goes inside the home with its pine hardwoods and freshly painted walls. It’s filled with New England charm and obviously well cared for – yet all of it is marred by the constant shadows from those three blades flickering across the staircase, the living room, into the kitchen and even up the stairs to the bedrooms – what should be any home’s sanctuary.
The visual dissonance is relentless and inescapable.
The video gives the barest peek into one family’s daily life and how they’re effected by the town’s recently installed wind turbine. It isn’t pleasant.
Studies across the globe have thus far proven inconclusive as to the health effects wind turbines pose to neighbors. An article in this week’s Slate, “Can Wind Turbines Make You Sick? A new syndrome appears to be highly contagious,” cites several of those studies as pointing toward a psychosomatic effect: people expect health issues, talk to each other about them, and as a result, headaches, nausea and sleep disturbances ensue. It should be noted, however, that the Slate “article” was sponsored by Statoil, an oil and natural gas company, an industry that as Forbes reported, has begun investing heavily in wind turbines.
At this point, we cannot speak to the potential or nonexistent health effects from infrasound and flicker effect generated by wind turbines. Until and unless a widespread, independent study is conducted, all we have is the testimony from neighbors in Scituate, Falmouth, Kingston and other locations around the world which claim turbines make them feel ill.
What we do know is that wind turbines, when sited near residents, are often met with complaints and lawsuits. Some might say that the overall potential benefits to the community and the environment override the potential negative effects to neighbors of wind turbines, but we don’t agree. We have never favored tyranny of the majority over the minority, to paraphrase James Madison.
While turbines must be sited where the wind is, we question the wisdom of a town placing one – or as is the case in Kingston, four – in already densely populated, residential areas. There are enough wind turbines operating worldwide to begin to scientifically and objectively accumulate data and assess their value as an efficient and safe energy source, as well as their impact on human health and safety.
Until then, we urge town officials to proceed with caution and restraint in approving new turbine siting requests.
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