The Enemy of My Enemy?

Wind turbines are bad for people - stop 'em!

For years, commentators on the right have railed against the problems trial lawyers cause to legitimate businesses.

Some of the most famous instances of legalistic excess have become household jokes.  We've all heard of the time McDonald's was sued for millions by a lady who dumped her hot coffee in her lap and found it to be, well, hot.  Books have been published and the Internet stuffed full of countless similar examples.

It's easy to blame lawyers for all manner of problems and excessive expenses; "tort reform" is a perennial goal of Republicans, yet a never-achieved one.

The dreadful costs of a litigious society are a two-edged sword.  Ridiculous lawsuits can fell otherwise powerful companies and can make construction or other changes take forever, and ever, and ever, until they're finally abandoned.  As Americans, we believe in progress, so this is usually bad.

But as we've discussed, change just for its own sake is unwise.  Some changes are bad and should be stopped.  The Oregonian brings us a report that presents a great opportunity for the right to use the left's favorite weapon against them.

Dr. Nina Pierpont of Malone, N.Y., coined the phrase "wind turbine syndrome" for what she says happens to some people living near wind energy farms. She has made the phrase part of the title of a book she's written called "Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on the Natural Experiment." It is scheduled for publication next month by K-Selected Press, of Santa Fe, N.M.  In contrast to those who consider wind turbines clean, green and an ideal source of renewable energy, Pierpont says living or working too close to them has a downside. Her research says wind turbines should never be built closer than two miles from homes...

Pierpont's findings suggest that low-frequency noise and vibration generated by wind machines can have an effect on the inner ear, triggering headaches; difficulty sleeping; tinnitus, or ringing in the ears; learning and mood disorders; panic attacks; irritability; disruption of equilibrium, concentration and memory; and childhood behavior problems.

Concerns also are coming out of Europe about low-frequency noise from newly built wind turbines. For example, British physician Amanda Harry, in a February 2007 article titled "Wind Turbines, Noise and Health," wrote of 39 people, including residents of New Zealand and Australia, who suffered from the sounds emitted by wind turbines.

Is this research convincing?  Who knows?  But is it not the left that demands we apply the "Precautionary Principle" to everything?

This misbegotten "rule" claims that the promoters of anything new must be obliged to prove its safety before it can be used anywhere.  We've explored the reasons why that's ridiculous: most good things have potential hazards, but the benefits outweigh the hazards.  However, the benefits are not fully understood or realized until the innovation is in use, whereas at least the most severe hazards can be clearly predicted.  The inventor of fire couldn't have imagined its use in cars or rocketships, but he sure did notice the pain when he got his finger too close to the flames.

As dumb as the "Precautionary Principle" is, though, the left tries to apply it to everything good.  It seems only fair to hold them to the same standard, doesn't it?

If it were a petroleum refinery or nuclear plant being constructed, technologies which have seen decades of mostly safe use, the local judge would be buried under a pile of lawsuits filed by radical environmentalists - which is why there have been no new refineries or nuke plants built in many years, leading to today's high prices, shortages, or both.  Where is the lawyer willing to use the exact same tactics against this new idol to environmental political correctness, the windmill?

And who knows?  Once the environmentalists see the havoc that frivolous lawsuits wreak on their beloved pet projects, well, maybe that will finally collect enough allies to bring on desperately needed tort reform.  Harness the winds of change!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Environment.
Reader Comments
This technique works extremely well. The Aug 20 WSJ has a page 1 article "Could Bikes Cause Pollution" which appeared in their electronic edition at

which tells how a bike-hater went to court and forced the city to develop an environmental study before putting in bike lanes.

"In February 2005, Mr. Anderson showed up at a planning commission meeting. If San Francisco was going to take away parking spaces and car lanes, he argued, it had better do an environmental-impact review first. When the Board of Supervisors voted to skip the review, Mr. Anderson sued in state court, enlisting his friend Mary Miles, a former postal worker, cartoonist and Anderson Valley Advertiser colleague.

In November 2006, a California Superior Court judge rejected San Francisco's contention that it didn't need an environmental review and ordered San Francisco to stop all bike-plan activity until it completed the review."

Scragged hits it again.
August 20, 2008 9:52 PM
HA! "Could Bikes Cause Pollution"? That's brilliant. The left is, of course, outraged at such a concept, BUT WHY WOULDN'T IT? Contrary to popular (and inept) opinion, "pollution" is caused by many INDIRECT things like road construction, asphalt production, etc.
August 21, 2008 7:57 AM
Oho, more bad news for wind turbines: Apparently the not only kill birds by whacking them in the head, but the pressure waves caused by the fan-blades make bat lungs explode.

Or so it's said...
August 26, 2008 3:38 PM
"pressure waves caused by the fan-blades make bat lungs explode"

I just about fell off my chair laughing. The extent to which this can even be measured makes the mind reel - that is if the mind can get past the humor of it all.
August 26, 2008 3:43 PM
Well, the thing is, the article at least SOUNDS somewhat plausible, to someone who is by no means a biologist (me). It's pretty obvious that those huge blades swinging about at great speeds do create air pressure wave pulses, they'd have to. And we all know that bats use echolocation, which means they are very sensitive to pressure changes and pulses, though I'd think that would make their EARS explode not their lungs. It sounds like the scientists were researching on bird deaths by wind-turbines, and found the ground littered with dead bats instead, with no obvious cause of death by blunt trauma.

But yes, it could be a very well-written parody piece, I have no idea. Somebody call a lawyer! Precautionary Principle in action!
August 26, 2008 4:43 PM
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