Because the number of wind turbines in the United States is climbing every year, concern over public health and safety has grown as well. Citizens are questioning whether a renewable source of energy is worth risking their well-being. Scientists are exploring the health hazards posed by turbines and the safety of wind turbines from a functional standpoint has been questioned. Overall, most of these worries are unfounded. Wind turbines offer a solution to climate change, which has proven to be dangerous for the well-being of our bodies and the earth itself.
The primary health concern associated with wind turbines is infrasound. The large wind turbine blades can spin at speeds of up to about 180 mph. In high winds, rapid spinning can produce sound and vibration as well as disruptions in air pressure. Some theorize that bats die near wind turbines due to the extremely low air pressure causing their blood vessels to burst. There are mixed opinions on whether turbines emit infrasound and if the amount emitted is more than that of diesel engines, waves crashing on the beach, and so on (Layton).
Infrasound is part of a larger issue: wind-turbine syndrome. Symptoms of the syndrome include headaches, sleep problems, night terrors or learning disabilities in children, ringing in ears, mood problems, concentration and memory problems, and issues with equilibrium. It should be noted that these symptoms have been observed by a limited number of sicentists studying small groups of people. The scientific community has not concluded whether the syndrome even exists (Layton).
Most safety issues regarding wind turbines relate to their design and durability. The number of wind turbine failures is limited; however, when turbines are destroyed by strong winds, the press very heavily covers the incident. For example, gale force winds of 112 mph ripped off the blades of three wind turbines during a storm in the UK earlier this year. While no one has been hurt by a wind turbine accident in over a decade there, turbines received major criticism across the pond for this failure (Gray).
Preventing Climate Change for a Better Life and World
Wind turbines reduce emissions, thereby decreasing climate change. Despite health and safety concerns from the public, the threat of climate change should be of paramount importance. Ultimately, the effects of climate change will do far greater damage to our bodies and our environment if left unchecked.
According to the EPA, the prevalence of many diseases and other threats to human health depend largely on local climate. Extreme temperatures can lead directly to loss of life. Climate change can disturb ecological systems as well. While that may seem less harmful to humans, it actually changes the range of infective parasites that cause often fatal diseases (EPA).
Humans are directly exposed to climate change through changing weather patterns. Extreme weather events, like hurricanes and floods, result in deaths, injuries, infectious diseases, and stress-related disorders. Indirect exposure takes place through changes in water, air, food quality and quantity, ecosystems, agriculture, and economy. Though the effects seem small at first, they will progressively increase with time (EPA).
The choice is ours to make. Would you rather support wind turbines that reduce climate change and risk the unproven health and safety concerns, or face the numerous proven consequences associated with climate change?