If you think your local wind farm makes you sick, then you might just be a negative person. Or at least that’s the conclusion of a University of Nottingham, UK report recently published online at Science Direct.
Dr Claire Lawrence, a psychologist and one of the authors, explained that they measured the noise levels of 1270 households within 500 meters (less than one-third of a mile) of wind turbines in two English cities. They also collected 138 questionnaires that gathered information about the residents’ perceived level of health and personality.
“We found there was no relationship between the ‘real’ level of noise and reports of ill health,” she said.
Instead, people who said that they were in poor health and blamed the wind turbines were so-called “negative orientated personalities” (NOPs) who were by nature more anxious, more likely to experience negative emotions, and less able to cope with minor frustrations.
In other words, they’re sad little neurotic people who would be miserable, sick, and unhappy whether the wind farms were there or not. Ouch.
Slate’s Keith Kloor recently published a round-up of previous studies about so-called wind turbine syndrome which pointed to much the same conclusion. He didn’t single out “negative” personalities, but he did collect information about people who had vague complaints that they blamed on wind turbines. In many cases, it did seem as if being an anxious person or a person easily affected by the power of suggestion could predispose you to think you had an illness caused by that all-too-visible wind farm.
However, I’d like to humbly suggest that you don’t have to be a neurotic hater to be chary of wind farms. The nature of the beast means that they have to be placed in windy areas — which includes many of our scenic landscapes and migratory bird routes. I’m not going to grab my skull and cry migraine, but I think it’s fair to ask questions when private companies stand to enjoy a profit from actions that affect scenery and wildlife that belong to all of us.
The American Bird Conservancy has stated that they support bird-smart wind farms that use proper controls to protect Golden Eagles and other birds that have been illegally harmed in past operations.
The issue is coming to a head in Ontario, Canada where two rural communities want to charge fees to compensate them for being “unwilling hosts” of for-profit wind farms, which will undoubtedly change their views and cause extra wear on their roads. The company, NextEra, has thus far refused to pay.
Labeling opponents “negative” may only take the wind farms so far.
[wind farm photo courtesy Kim Hansen and Wikipedia Commons]