The answer is blowin in the wind

A potential wind farm near Belwood prompted a friend, who happens to be a doctor (the medical variety),  to challenge me to write a column on wind farms – a real challenge when I don’t pretend to know anything about them.

However, a limited amount of research told me that doctors have had a lot to say about wind farms, both for and against.

Whenever a new energy form comes along, people tend to line up on both sides. Not that wind power is new. Thousands of years ago people in all parts of the world stuck up masts and sails on boats and saved a lot of work for the oarsmen.

I wonder if people opposed sailing ships because a sudden blast of wind could flip them over. I know some folks got really uptight when engineers began equipping ships with steam engines. Those things had a habit of blowing up and sending the ship to Davy Jones’ Locker. 

Folks in Holland got the idea to use large windmills to pump water through canals.

What happened when the wind died down? Did the fields flood? Or did the crops die because of lack of water? I wonder if the neighbours complained about their bigness and ugliness.

When I grew up on the prairies, every farm had a windmill to pump water from a deep well to supply house and barn needs.

Most have disappeared now, but at that time they made money for folks in Fergus, because almost everyone bore the name “Beatty” on the vane that held them to the wind.    

Okay, let’s have some serious thoughts on modern wind turbines. My doctor friend has one. He says it doesn’t work. He quotes experts who say they are only 21 per cent efficient. According to the Medical Post other doctors have weighed into the argument.

Radiologist Dr. Martha Leadman says the “strobe-light” effect of the turning blades could disturb people and trigger epileptic seizures.

She also expresses concern over noise and especially pulsating low-frequency noise, which has been known to cause sleep disturbances, depression, migraines and cognitive problems.

Dr. Robert McMurty questions why standards for wind farms should be so low when people have so many unanswered questioned. American Pediatrician Nina Pierpont warns against “wind tunnel syndrome” and possible effects on the inner ear.

But another group of doctors says the naysayers are all wet.

Three doctors with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment say there is “no peer-reviewed scientific evidence to suggest that wind turbines are themselves harmful to human health.”

Dr. Colby, acting medical officer for Chatham Kent, found no negative impact from wind turbines. He says the rotation of wind turbines is totally wrong for causing seizures in susceptible people.

You might ask me, “Ray, having done this limited amount of research, what do you think?”

Well, like a wind turbine, I’m blowin’ in the wind or going around in circles.


Ray Wiseman