The argument about the health effects of wind turbines continues in Ontario. The recently-appointed Chief Medical Officer of Health, one Dr. Arlene King, has recently issued her report that pretty much restates what the AWEA/CanWEA “Expert Panel Review” earlier stated – that is, “…the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects”. That’s certainly a lot of qualifiers, especially when the first part of the above quoted sentence is “The review concludes that while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance…”. I just don’t get it. Since when can health professionals dismiss things like “dizziness, headaches and sleep disturbance”?
And like the Expert Panel Review, she didn’t bother actually going out into the field and talking to the victims nor their doctors. So this report is nothing more than yet another literature review conducted by people in their cubicles googling PubMed. Just what we need, eh?
The Society for Wind Vigilance certainly had words for this report, saying it “appears to be a government-convened attempt to justify unsound practices of wind turbine development while denying the adverse health effects reported by Ontario families”. Ouch.
Update, June 16, 2010
I periodically engage in online debates on blogs and in comment sections. The following is an explanation I wrote that goes into what I consider “evidence” vs. what many, apparently including Dr. King, think of as evidence.
Using the King report as an example, you present her report as evidence that wind turbines present no health issues. The problem, I suspect, is that you use the word “evidence” differently than I (and many others) do. For you, the fact that a professional, a presumed expert, someone with lots of gravitas, has made some statement apparently serves in itself as evidence. This is typical of government and legal circles, where experts present testimony and it is accepted as “evidence”. I first noticed and thought about this different use of the word when reading some Australian council proceedings some time ago.
To me, Dr. King’s statements aren’t evidence at all, unless she moved out into a project herself and lived there for a year. At best, she could “present” evidence, had she actually gotten out into the field and talked to someone. Since she didn’t do so, she can’t (again, by my reckoning) even present evidence. Since what she did was pretty much a google, the best that could be said for her statements is that she could summarize evidence that others had collected. Unfortunately, as best as I can tell (and I’ve read all but Braam), none of the references she listed (except Pierpont, of course) produced any health-related evidence either. Possible exception of Pedersen/van den Berg, whose survey included a few general health questions, but their methodology wasn’t suited to a real health study, per Ms. Pedersen.
What do I consider evidence? Reports from the neighbors. Medical exams of the neighbors. Medical records of the neighbors. Abandoning homes by the neighbors. Always the neighbors.
I mentioned the AWEA/CanWEA Expert Panel Review. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention I’ve done a pretty substantial critique of that Review.