With Silent Wind, Arrives Anxiety – Lennart Salek, Germany

With plans for a phase-out of nuclear power by 2022, 60% reliance on renewable energies by 2050, and more than 24 thousand wind turbines, Germany strives for an environmentally friendly future. In general, sustainability plays a big role in German society; a waste sorting system and the collection of empty containers are already fully established. However, over 500 local pressure groups oppose the planned expansion of onshore wind parks and are fighting to prevent it. It is not just about changing the source of energy – there is a great deal of anxiety over this proposal.

New wind turbines are being built one after the other, and soon afterwards, the people living in the surrounding area start to complain of ill-health. The general symptoms range from insomnia and feelings of helplessness to panic. People are often diagnosed, mistakenly, as having burnout. However, these symptoms appear quite frequently without the other usual causes of burnout, leading some to connect them to the wind power stations.

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Infrasound (sound with a frequency between 16 and 20 Hertz) is thought to be at the root of these complaints. Humans cannot normally hear infrasound, which is why they theoretically cannot cause any issues. This topic of discussion is a controversial one for medical practitioners, with some doctors believing that infrasound is detrimental to health. Furthermore, infrasounds generate oscillations which can have an effect on the vicinity comparable to that of small earthquakes.

Scientists are studying the long-term influence of infrasound on the human body to determine how many tested patients’ symptoms worse and how their cognitive abilities change. The current regulations seem unusually out-of-date. Meanwhile the possible victims of infrasound produced by the wind parks, hope to be awarded compensation.
Another problematic issue is that many people who own suitable land are selling it to energy companies and being paid to let wind turbines be constructed there. In some cases, the wind turbines have ended up being less than 500 metres away from uninvolved citizens’ homes.

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This not only affects residents – who sometimes feel compelled to move – but also animal behaviour, as farmers have observed. For example, since the wind power stations started operating, fewer cows have been able to conceive and the number of bovine miscarriages has increased. When the turbines rotate rapidly, horses have been known to run out of their stalls, even if a heavy storm is going on – something very uncharacteristic of the animal.

These possible manifestations have proven to be affecting, which is why proponents of green politics fear that wind parks will face growing and widespread opposition. It is not the only measure Germany promotes in order to save energy: for instance, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building, and Nuclear Safety promotes inrush airing in winters in its campaign, “Together it is climate change mitigation” (See video below). Ecological activists are afraid that the government’s actions as a whole will lose credibility and could endanger the transition to clean energy as complaints regarding infrasound and wind parks accumulate.

In conclusion, it is currently a matter of opinion whether or not wind turbines endanger public health- however, it is indubitably important to consider the advantages of phasing out non-renewable energy and implementing renewable energy.

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