Many of us grew up in families that were more hierarchical than is the current norm. When we were young, we often heard a certain parental retort: “Because I said so.”
It was a riposte designed to stifle youthful inquiry. But many of us who live in Windham seem to have weathered these rebuffs to our curiosity without sustaining noticeable damage. In fact, Windham is a veritable hotbed of mature, informed intellect. Possibly this is because we live where it’s so quiet, which has been scientifically proven to promote clear thinking. But whatever the reason, many in our community didn’t stop asking questions, and instead developed the lifelong habit of exploration and inquiry. We also taught ourselves to find answers, relishing the advent of online research and analysis tools.
So you might understand our annoyance when we are repeatedly mistaken for ignoramuses by the reps of a multinational corporation that plans to place wind turbines in our midst. This corporation, which used to call itself Iberdrola, until its name became synonymous with clumsy, hateful business tactics, sends among us representatives who haven’t done their homework and who also are tone-deaf, unable to learn from their experience with our town.
You notice this when you view the video of Iberdrola’s announcement last October of their proposed turbine layout in Windham. From all parts of the audience, people rise to question Iberdrola’s team on an array of topics: production of concrete and of low-frequency noise; propagation of vibration and of regional floods; compensation for ruined health and for ruined property values.
The questioners appear earnest and informed; the members of Team Iberdrola appear positively robotic, and not in a good way. Their programmed response to each question is the same. “Our highly technical scientific experts will explain this highly technical scientific matter at a later date.” Or, “The peer-reviewed literature shows wind turbines have no effect on [whatever concern the questioner has raised].”
You’d think we’d be pleased to have our concerns dismissed. But condescending dismissal doesn’t satisfy an informed and curious population who have taught themselves how to think, research, discuss, conclude. Instead it sounds to us a lot like we’re being told “because I said so.”
Presently we’re sparring with Team Iberdrola over stormwater controls and wind turbine noise, among other things. You’ll be gratified to learn that Iberdrola is going to make sure that, in our town, water will no longer run downhill. Those of you who doubt this will want to stick around to have highly technical scientific experts explain it to you.
Also reassuring is Iberdrola’s reminder that “peer-reviewed scientific evidence” continues to staunchly guard our town from the threat of wind turbine noise. Peer review, by the way, tends to mean cursory approval of study findings by a couple of people who didn’t see any major flaws, while what we’d really prefer is studies that have been duplicated, or at least carefully dissected by sub-specialty experts. Wind turbine noise studies, in particular, involve engineering, acoustics, climatology, health, statistics. Careful review is not undertaken, which might explain our lack of enthusiasm for the very peer-reviewed literature that inspires such confidence in Team Iberdrola.
Not long ago, one of our informed citizens gained insight from a conversation with her friend, a former energy-corporation insider. “The reps they’re sending to sell you on this project,” he told her, “know nothing about it. Their job is to do what’s necessary to augment the bottom line.” Which puts the team from the company-formerly-known-as-Iberdrola in a tight spot. Apparently, respecting the concerns of an informed community isn’t economical. But in Windham, “because I said so” doesn’t work.
Nancy Tips is a resident of Windham.
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