In April I found a link to "Better Plan, Wisconsin." The site is a testimonial by residents living very close to wind turbines. They document the loud noises, constant vibrations, and flashing shadows that eventually disturb their sleep and other living patterns.
A quote from http://betterplan.squarespace.com/ describes the disturbing consequences caused by the huge rotating blades:
“Last night it was whining,” said Ann. “It wasn’t just the whoosh whoosh whoosh or the roaring. It was a high pitched whine. And I don’t just hear them, I can feel them.” She describes feeling like a beat in her head. A pulse that matches the turbine’s rhythm.
“Last night was really bad,” she said.
While Jason, who works nights, wasn’t having much trouble with the turbine noise, it was keeping Ann and her children from sleeping well at night. They were tired all the time. They were also getting frequent headaches.
And there was trouble with their animals as well. The Wirtz family raise alpaca and have a breeding herd. Ann says the alpaca became jumpy the first day the turbines went on line. “Normally they are so calm. But the day the towers started up, they seemed to panic. They were on their back legs right away.”
Ann says the herd had always been docile and healthy, with no breeding problems. Since the wind farm started up, their temperament has changed and none of the females have been able to carry a pregnancy to full term. “ They’re nervous all the time now. And I can’t prove anything but I do know my animals. And I really felt something was wrong. All the years we’ve had them we’ve never had a problem.”
Then today Treehugger.com tweeted about the death of goats in Japan. The turbines disturbed the goats' living patterns until they were unable to eat, and ended up starving to death. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/taiwanese-wind-farm-kills-goats-sleep-deprivation.php
What to do? Fossil fuels cause greenhouse gases, wind turbines disturb natural patterns, and solar energy requires massive amount of technology and batteries. As our knowledge of alternative energy sources increases exponentially over the next few years, I'm sure that humanity will create less wasteful ways to create energy. But in the meantime, perhaps smaller, more grassroots ways of collecting energy are the way to go?
This article in the NY Times talks about a couple who decided to put a wind turbine up at their own home. You can tell even from the picture that this kind of turbine is much less disruptive than the giant ones from wind farms.
Building our own alternative energy sources at home could also be an effective way to experiment with different design models, instead of industries turning out a massive number of giant towers for a farm. To describe this with a plant metaphor, the wind farms are kind of like a mono-crop, susceptible to one type of problem, whereas small-scale home with many types of energy sources is like a diverse forest, with all kinds of systems acting together.
In the end, there are always ups and downs to every solution for the energy crisis. But as always, the main goal is: use less, be creative, and keep moving towards efficiency.