Thursday, August 08, 2013
ThinkScotland - Windmills 1,000 Times More Dangerous Than Nuclear
"WE LIVE in the safest era of human history but our media are full of scare stories. Is this because when life is safe scary stuff fills a popular need – or is there more to it?
We are told there is a Precautionary Principle that must be invoked against any risk at all, but do its proponents really believe what they are saying?
I think there is something more because while it is true we get all these scare stories - global warming; WMDs in 45 minutes; obesity; passive smoking; margarine, butter and peak oil – there are other, at least equally probable scares that apparently don't sell papers.
A massive solar flare and global cooling are at least as fearsome as global warming and at least as credible. Fuel poverty is far more lethal than obesity. The MMR scare is at least as credible as the passive smoking one, though both strain credulity, but nobody pushing the latter has been debarred for not asking his research subjects permission properly (that, rather than any sort of fraud was what Wakefield was removed for).
So what makes a scare story the media will push or one they won't touch with a bargepole? The one thing all the disapproved ones have in common is they aren't government supported scares. Here is perhaps the ultimate comparison – Low frequency sound from Windmills......
If the "Precautionary Principle" is to apply at all it must be applied against low frequency sound for which there has been, inexplicably if you believe research grants are given out purely for the science, far less research but for which there is actually infinitely more evidence of harm. We have had decades of funding of research trying to prove radiation harmful without any papers successfully doing so. Indeed there is at least one case – a herd of cattle being put to sleep 20 years after being exposed to radiation in 1945 – because their record breaking longevity threatened to discredit the theory that such radiation was dangerous.
You can make a scientific case that there is zero risk from radiation from nuclear power stations and a major risk from wind turbine low frequency sonics. You can, less credibly, make a case under the precautionary principle that both might be dangerous, but then you have to admit that the odds are a thousand times worse for the turbines. But you cannot honestly pretend that the anti-nuclear scare is genuine and the low frequency sound from windfarms isn't.
Except, of course, that that is exactly what the world's media have been pretending for decades - with the enthusiastic support of those in power.
If the "environmentalist" proponents of the precautionary principle actually believe in it they must, by definition, be campaigning 1,000 times harder for the closure of windfarms on safety grounds than for the closure of nuclear plants. In fact what we see is that the same politicians who push false scare fears about nuclear plants are deliberately finessing the rules to promote far more dangerous windmills.
Last month the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a report by the Institute of Acoustics examining whether ETSU-R-97 was still adequate to the task. Remarkably, instead of stiffening regulations, it made them more lax, not only continuing to ignore the Low Frequency Noise and infrasound issue, but actually giving wind farms leeway to make more noise at night and to be built even closer to dwellings.
Thus in a world where scare stories were merely the media satisfying a human yearning for horror stories broadcasters or newspapers must have spent thousands of times more promoting scare stories about windmills than nuclear plants.
But in a world where politicians pick and choose which scares are useful - "the practical purpose of politics is to keep the populace scared and eager to be led to safety by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary" [Mencken] - and broadcasters and media find life more comfortable pushing the news they want, you would find the false, but more politically approved, scare stories being pushed and the real ones suppressed. Which appears to be what we do find.