I am a solicitor and farmer living in the Central Tablelands of N.S.W. I, and my wife, were approached by a wind farm developer in 2008 and thereafter to consider “hosting” industrial wind turbines on our farm. As a result, I (unlike the AMA) carefully researched and studied the “impacts” of wind farms on rural communities world wide in order to form an independent judgment in relation to these matters. Having done so, I was appalled to read the “Wind Farms and Public Health Position Statement” dated the 18th March 2014 and published on the internet. This is a letter of protest.
To put it briefly, I am flabbergasted by the recklessly negligent AMA position statement. The position statement is reckless in the extreme. It parrots wind farm protagonist propaganda and shows no hint of independent research into health issues or energy issues. The statement is negligent because, firstly, your organization has an acknowledged “duty of care” towards the citizens of Australia and secondly, “you know or ought to know” what the actual evidence is. Even if the author(s) had read the recently released 264 page draft report by the NH&MRC and its referenced material, no “reasonable man” – let alone a qualified professional – could possibly come up with an “objective” statement that resembles anything like the “AMA position” on wind farm health impacts.
In addition to reading the NH&MRC report and references, the author of a proper (rather than a reckless and negligent) AMA position statement would need to consider and weigh the “peer reviewed” literature which the NH&MRC ignored.
Further, it has to be odds of at least 1,000 to 1 that neither you nor any of the authors of your report has ever spoken to a victim suffering ill-health from industrial wind turbines. The negligence case against the AMA in relation to its position statement would not be a difficult one!
Perhaps, if you have spoken to any victims you concluded they were suffering as a result of “heightened anxiety” or “negative perceptions.” As a long standing resident of a rural community and a 4th generation Australian farmer the notion that rural people can be led “lemming like” down a path of “anxiety” with their bulging eyes glazed over in a mask of unintelligent incomprehension into any abyss of physical ill health is absurd. Philosopher M Thomas Inge makes the observation that “farming is the sole occupation which offers total independence and self sufficiency.” The “independence” extends to their decision making.
There are any number of studies and written observations that exist in Australia relating to rural people’s consistent exercise of independence of thought. Do some real research. Look them up but I will refer to one study by Heidi Lindner, School of Health and Environment, La Trobe University. The study outlines an extraordinary propensity by farmers for stoicism, independence and self reliance and concludes that a strong tendency exists in the culture to “victim blame” – to assume that an individual has control over their own behaviours and that their poor health is their own fault. It is precisely this tendency to “victim blame” that makes your statement so utterly careless, negligent and destructive. It deliberately fosters and encourages such an attitude.
It is time to put the “anxiety from scare mongering” and Professor Simon Chapman’s “nocebo” argument to rest and move on. The idea is illogical, cruel and ridiculous in the context of rural communities and there is not one skerrick of evidence to support it.
Apart from the health issues (about which you would be well advised to limit any AMA statement – again, the case of negligence and recklessness would not be difficult to establish) the position statement makes gratuitous remarks about other aspects of industrial wind turbines. It repeats wind industry propaganda about the benefits of wind farms and the absence of ill effects. In this respect, your statement is patently “political” and “ideological.” More importantly, it demonstrates extraordinary ignorance of energy matters and is proof that you have not even been aware of persistent and continuous media and professional debates about the place of wind farms as a generator of electricity in a modern society with an electrical grid system. Hundreds of papers have been written and submitted to governments by professional economists, various engineering groups, individual engineers and acousticians (not involved with the wind industry). I have numerous references to these papers and submissions but I have no intention of attaching them to this letter or sending them to you because you need to first introduce the AMA to health issues rather than the issues that are much debated in energy circles.
That said, bit by bit, governments around the world are realising that they have been “conned” by wind industry propaganda in respect to efficacy, abatement of CO2 emissions, abatement of pollution and the cost of wind energy. In relation to efficacy alone, imagine trying to run just one hospital from power generated by every wind farm in Australia – you can’t. As you would know if you had done any research, even AGL admits this! The obstinate obsession by protagonists to limit discussion of wind farms to only the generation of electricity is another absurdity thrust upon us by the wind industry and its proponents, and apparently now by the AMA. Somebody should have informed the authors of the statement that the “generation” of electricity is just one part of a complicated system that provides 24 hour a day, 7 day a week power to consumers when it is needed. Why would you build a car and place it in an environment with no roads, bridges, traffic control or any of the other components needed for a complicated transport system. The evidence is now in and mounting – the engineers have been consistently correct, the ideologists incorrect. Case studies from around the world are demonstrating that running a national grid that is mandatorily connected to voluminous wind farms is a complete, dangerous and massively expensive flop in every respect.
To say that I am extremely disappointed by the quality and content of the position statement would be to put it more mildly than I am prepared to. At an intellectual level, much has been written recently by social commentators (you could start with the work of Nick Cater) about the emergence of a smug, superior class in Australian society, a class which has delusions of its own adequacy and which takes neither the time nor the trouble to remove itself from its own comfort zones and thought bubbles to connect with real people and “the real world.” It appears to me that the AMA echelons, which have now categorized rural people as worthless, stupid imbeciles incapable of knowing whether they are sick or not, have been permeated by such attitudes and they have no place in a professional organization.
In summary, your statement is ignorant, unprofessional, ideologically driven and ill-informed. It is a disgrace to the medical profession. It is dripping with the words of propaganda used by the proponents and supporters of wind farms. I note that its authorship is not acknowledged and it bears an uncanny resemblance to statements issued by the “Clean Energy Council” (formerly the Australian Wind Energy Association) which consistently misrepresents the impact of wind farms. It is an embarrassment to your members and, quite probably, actionable. It should be removed from the internet and, if you must take a public position in the matter, re-done.
28 March 2014
TO: The President, Australian Medical Association