[Sust-mar] Wind Turbines: Some Deeper Questions

a borboleta as_borboletas at yahoo.ca
Wed May 19 17:06:56 EDT 2010


Below is part of a commentary by Helga Hoffmann-Orton and David Orton on Nina
Pierpont's book Wind Turbine Syndrome. The full commentary is available


For the Earth,

David Orton

<greenweb at ca.inter.net>



Wind Turbines: Some Deeper Questions

book commentary by David Orton and Helga Hoffmann-Orton


Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment

by Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, K-Selected Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico,

2009, 292 pages, paperback, ISBN-13: 978-0-9841827-0-1.


“Symptoms include sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure,
dizziness,  vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability,
problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with
sensations of internal pulsation or quivering that arise while awake or
asleep.” p. 26. (Health effects experienced by some people living near 1.5 to 3
MW wind turbines, built since 2004.)


“Keep wind turbines at least 2 km (1.25 miles) away on the flat, and 3.2 km (2
miles) in mountains…Second, all wind turbine ordinances should hold developers
responsible for a full price (pre-turbine) buyout of any family whose lives are
ruined by turbines – to prod developers to follow realistic health-based rules
and prevent the extreme economic loss of home abandonment.” p. 254.




This book commentary was written in the context of our own local situation,
and to make Nina Pierpont’s Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural
Experiment better known to others who have wind turbines sprouting up like
industrial mushrooms in their backyards and regions. Pierpont, a rural
physician living in upstate New York, writes about health impacts suffered by
people living close to wind turbines. The book is essentially about human
health, and does not discuss ecosystem health, a more encompassing topic with
wider dimensions. The reference to ‘natural experiment’ in the subtitle, refers
to “a circumstance wherein subjects are exposed to experimental conditions both
inadvertently and ecologically (within their own homes and environments).” (p.



Our situation

We live in rural Pictou County, Nova Scotia, and within visual distance
from the 51 MW Dalhousie Mountain wind turbine complex – re-branded ‘wind farm’
presumably to convey an innocuous bucolic image. Its 34 industrial wind
turbines are a ‘first phase’, with the developers ‘promising’ more to come,
rationalized in the name of reducing greenhouse gases, not creating economic
rewards for the developers. The proponents are R.M. Synergy Ltd and Stantec
Consultants Ltd. Dalhousie Mountain is now a ‘forest’ of rotating wind turbines
hundreds of feet tall. The 1.5 MW turbines measure approximately 120 meters in
height from the ground to the tip of the rotor blade. The site is a hilly area
and about 340 metres above sea level. The wind farm is a massive intrusion on
the viewscape of many people, not only in our own immediate area, but also for
those travelling on the Trans-Canada Highway between Truro and New Glasgow.


The environmental assessment for the Dalhousie Mountain project was approved on
September 2, 2008, less than a month after it was submitted.  John
Livingston, perhaps Canada’s deepest eco-philosopher, as well as a life-long
naturalist, told us in his 1981 book The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation,
that “EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) is a grandiloquent fraud, a hoax,
and a con.” (p. 33) He also discussed what he called “resourcism”, pointing out
that in our society, once anything is considered a “resource” for human use,
this allows us to consider “nature as our subsidiary” and its demise is only a
matter of time. 


We are told in one of the submitted environmental assessment documents: “The
visual impact of installing 34 turbines in an unpopulated area to provide much
needed electricity can only be considered a responsible addition to the
aesthetics of Pictou County.” Another revealing comment from the same document,
shows its blindness to the wonders of the natural world: “Industrial fixtures
become endearing features for our communities, describing the culture or the
‘way we live.’” The impact is not just visual, since as well as the turbines
themselves, there are new roads, new connecting power lines, the cutting of
trees, a new electrical sub-station, lights on some of the turbine blades for
aircraft, and increased human traffic.


This promoter, like other industrial wind farm enthusiasts, does not seem to
understand, as E.F. Schumacher instructed us in Small is Beautiful: A Study
of Economics As If People Mattered, that “for every activity there
is a certain appropriate scale.” (p. 54) We are not talking here about a small
group of wind turbines ecologically situated, community owned and controlled,
and helping to supply energy to the local bioregion, with the revenues
community-generated, not privately accumulated, within an overall societal
strategy of seriously reducing citizen energy lifestyles and hence greenhouse
gas emissions. The operator of this wind farm now has a contract from Nova
Scotia Power to produce wind-generated electricity for 25 years and wants to
significantly expand the number of turbines on the mountain. 


In Nova Scotia, the provincial New Democratic government aims to generate 40%
of electricity from “renewable resources” by 2020. (There is, of course, no
let-up on the offshore promotion of fossil fuel exploration and extraction by
the Nova Scotia government.) “Renewables” include, as well as wind turbine
generated electricity, biomass harvesting from forests already ravaged by
industrial forestry, and placing electricity generating turbines in the tidal
Bay of Fundy – newspaper reports have spoken of 200 to 300 units – with costs
unknown to the marine ecosystem. 


The provincial government, along with its federal counterpart, is also in financial
partnership with a South Korean company planning to manufacture wind turbines
in Trenton, a town in Pictou County. (According to newspaper reports, the
government money amounts to 70 million dollars.) So the wind turbine push is
on. Support for industrial wind turbines crosses party lines. Elizabeth May, in
the name of the federal Green Party, on August 19, 2008 stated about the
Dalhousie Mountain project, “The Green Party is pleased to support a local
entrepreneur in the undertaking of this project. Its over-all environmental
impact is unquestionably positive.”

Faced with this new industrial reality in our area, we belatedly started to
look into the industrial wind turbine issue, from the perspective of deep
ecology. We are trying to read as widely as possible, and are still doing more
research on the topic. While exploring the subject, we came across references
to “Wind Turbine Syndrome” and the name Nina Pierpont. We got her book to see
what she had to say – hence this commentary.


Continued at


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