Dead Ducks and Wind Turbine Noise

Interesting article in todays Globe and Mail about the birds being killed by oil sands development: Dead ducks a boon for oil-sands opponents

Reading about the frustration environmentalists have with the hazards poised by the open settling ponds and tailings brought to mind the disagreements in Ontario about wind turbines. One has the recently released MOE noise report being pushed in the press as having disproved the wind turbine opponents claims of noise harm. I skimmed the report — all 100+ pages of very scientific graphs and text. The complaint is made over and over that all one has is anecdotal reports of noise injury — that the opponents have not PROVED there is harm. And of course, anecdotal evidence is never good enough — there must be a scientific study. And yet it is ok for the proponents to wave their hands and claim that there is no harm.

Seems we all come down to the same place — an objective definition of what conditions will reliably cause harm (and even better a definition of the sensitivity gradient of normal human variability to this hazard). Then the politicians can decree by setting the limits as to what percentage of the population will be sacrificed.

At least with the birds it is pretty clear — they land in this stuff they will die. And no one knows what the birds think about this — the living ones, that is.

I am also puzzled about how standards have changed in medicine and public health. At one time I thought that it was for the proponents to prove (there is that word again) that there were no harmful side effects. (See also genetically modified foods) But now it is good enough for the folks who profit from it to claim that there is no harm — but the opponents have to scientifically prove that there is. Meanwhile the deployments continue.

No, I think we and the birds have a lot in common — we are all collateral damage in the insatiable thirst for energy that has infected our society.

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