Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wind Farms: More Harm Than Initially Realized?

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.


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5 comments:

Nick Biddle said...

Goats? Fuck 'em. Alpacas? Double fuck 'em. We need power and it's much easier to live in the shadow of a wind farm than it is to live next to a nuclear power station. People need to learn to live in a world that isn't always bending to suit their comfort level, otherwise every time we start slouching toward progress we'll have to SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING because some goat-herding hag in the midwest doesn't care for the noise.

************* said...

Freaky pattern-disturbing vibrations are no good, buddy! Goat and alpacas? Those things are good.

It has nothing to do with "comfort level," but everything to do with realizing that this magical wind power might not be a total fix, and we should keep our eyes on the prize and continue working for improved means of collecting energy.

I think I'll go read about algae now :)

Nick Biddle said...

I think that we're failing to address a critical fact here: even-toed ungulates are probably doing us less good than wind farms.

And in many cases, it has everything to do with comfort. People simply don't want these huge, beautiful machines in their back yards/on their shorelines, so they talk shit to try and drum up fear in the hearts of guilt-ridden environmentalists. Inertia takes over from there and the headlines write themselves: "WIND FARMS MURDERING BABY GOATS: HOLY SHIT WHAT HAVE WE WROUGHT".

It's manufactured hysteria. Wind farms aren't killing much of anything. Probably a media "false flag" operation being paid for by big oil. Nothing to see here, move along.

************* said...

I can appreciate the fact that these are huge, beautiful machines. And can even accept that you don't find goats that useful (although I respectfully disagree with you, since there are many cultures who find them *incredibly* useful). But in any case, I really do believe that massive vibrations and flashing lights are pretty disruptive to the natural Earth cycle. That's not to say that wind power is evil, or anything like that, but just that we should acknowledge that it's not a perfect system, and we should continue reaching. Nothing wrong with improving technology, I think.

Flint said...

Domesticating goats is slavery!

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