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Challenging assertions on Stiles Brook commentary  

The World Health Organization has defined human health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

This international standard should lead to greater consensus on at least one issue. The harm to human health of industrial wind turbines pervades the towns of Windham and Grafton long before the onset of the massive infrastructure disruption to the landscape and ecology of the Stiles Brook ridge and long before the first rotating swoosh of the mammoth blades atop the 500-foot towers. The harm to health is amply evident in the suspicion and mistrust tearing at the social fabric of these small and tight-knit communities. The glib optimism and easy certitude of AWEA and Mr. Sasse, along with that of all the interested parties in the what is emerging as the Wind Industrial Complex, brings not helpful balm but bruising inflammation to this hard health fact.

Credit:  Rob Furstoss: Challenging assertions on Stiles Brook commentary | Rob Furstoss | Aug. 25, 2016 | vtdigger.org ~~

Two problematic assertions in Mr. Art Sasse’s commentary (“Myth vs. Fact on Stiles Brook Wind Project,” Aug. 17, 2016) seriously weaken his otherwise apparent earnest effort to promote open and factual discussion of his employer’s proposed industrial wind turbine project. After rejecting as “not true” the Windham town leaders’ contention (one among numerous concerns they raise in a letter declining the developer’s invitation to negotiate a deal) that the monitoring of the stormwater system at the Kingdom Community Wind site has been insufficient, Mr. Sasse cautions the voters of Grafton and Windham to “be aware of the falsehoods spread by the individuals and groups that are doing everything they can to prevent an open, fact-based discussion before the vote.”

Whatever the merit of Mr. Sasse’s disagreement on the stormwater monitoring issue – and in a response to his commentary, Frank Seawright, chair of the Windham Select Board, cites updated correspondence with ranking state officials that casts some doubt on the ultimate merit of Mr. Sasse’s rebuttal – the suggestion that the Windham town leaders and other groups are in a feverish and frenzied scheme to obstruct open and fact-based discussion registers to many, it must be said, as a strategic non sequitur disguised in an artful insinuation. Such uncharitable characterizations leave no possible space for sincerity and honesty in people with whom Mr. Sasse disagrees. More to the point, logically faulty and potentially toxic inferences on the motives of others poison the purity of any appeal to fact-based discussion, and this one risks exposing Mr. Sasse as fomenting, however unwittingly, the very fear mongering he insists should not be visited upon the good people of Windham and Grafton.

The second assertion weakening Mr. Sasse’s effort to elevate factual discussion comes in his representation of the scientific consensus on the adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines: “The peer-reviewed scientific evidence overwhelmingly finds that wind turbines do not harm human health.” In this statement, we find an echo of the claim on the website of the American Wind Energy Association, the “premier national trade association that represents the interests of America’s wind energy industry.” In support of its claim, AWEA links to a July 2010 review of scientific studies by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, “Wind Turbines and Health: A Rapid Review.” A more comprehensive and updated study by Australia’s NHMRC, however, in no way sustains the conclusion AWEA and Mr. Sasse offer on the absence of adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines.

The current NHMRC study (February 2015), titled “Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health,” concludes, “given the limitations of the existing evidence and the continuing concerns expressed by some members of the community … further high quality research on the possible health effects of wind farms is required.” The conclusion of Australia’s preeminent health agency, that the absence of conclusive evidence is no reason to negate possible health hazards posed by wind turbines, is consistent with the health statement in the letter of the Windham town leaders, which Mr. Sasse also dismisses in his commentary as “not true.”

As is clear in the recent findings of Australia’s study, scientific research on wind turbines and human health, as on practically any other public health threat, fails to contain the detection power sufficient to demonstrate, conclusively and incontrovertibly, the absence of harmful health effects. Rather, the most comprehensive skeptical studies, perhaps including the ones valued though not cited by Mr. Sasse, have demonstrated inconsistent or inconclusive findings. Those propounding the importance of fact-based discussion might be aware of the maxim that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

On the topic of wind turbines and health, mistaking “absence of evidence” for “evidence of absence” in statements of fact produces an outcome more distressing even than the lapse in sound logic: It can lead to a smug shutting down of thought and a hardened heart in facing the fact of anguished families reporting sometimes debilitating illness from living near industrial wind turbines.

The comfort that principals and proponents of industrial wind turbines take from “the absence of evidence,” moreover, results from the most constricting and narrow terms of debate in understanding human health. We would find a far different debate, perhaps producing true open thought and softer hearts, were we to adopt a more broad and humanistic definition of health, say, the one the World Health Organization has promulgated since 1945. WHO has defined human health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

This international standard should lead to greater consensus on at least one issue. The harm to human health of industrial wind turbines pervades the towns of Windham and Grafton long before the onset of the massive infrastructure disruption to the landscape and ecology of the Stiles Brook ridge and long before the first rotating swoosh of the mammoth blades atop the 500-foot towers. The harm to health is amply evident in the suspicion and mistrust tearing at the social fabric of these small and tight-knit communities. The glib optimism and easy certitude of AWEA and Mr. Sasse, along with that of all the interested parties in the what is emerging as the Wind Industrial Complex, brings not helpful balm but bruising inflammation to this hard health fact.

[rest of article available at source]

Source:  Rob Furstoss: Challenging assertions on Stiles Brook commentary | Rob Furstoss | Aug. 25, 2016 | vtdigger.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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