Thanks to Google News’ nifty customized news sections, I hear about articles worldwide that contain terms interesting to AEI, such as “ocean noise,” “wind turbine noise,” and, yup, “Acoustic Ecology.” Yesterday I saw that David Colby, one of the authors of the widely-read report on wind turbine health effects, had responded to an article that questioned his integrity on that project. It sounded like his self-defense was justified, but for some reasons in his defense he noted that while AEI had critiqued the report, our comments should be disregarded because we are “wind objectors.”
Well, having invested considerable time and effort in establishing a reputation as an honest broker of the science and policy debates surrounding various noise-related environmental issues (with DOE’s NEWEEP, NOAA, US Navy, Canadian DFO, and others affirming that by inviting my participation in public and private workshops and working groups), I was rather offended by his characterization. I quickly submitted a letter to the editor noting that AEI believes wind energy is an important part of our energy future, and that our focus on noise issues has from the start been focused on the idea that if impacts on nearby neighbors are not taken seriously, the future growth of the industry will be jeopardized. In several road trips over the past year, I’ve come across large wind farms in Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming, all of which were truly impressive and made a lot of sense on the landscape where they were. Nearly without exception, they were also miles from any homes. It’s only as we move wind farms into rural areas that are not primarily working landscapes that we’re finding a significant proportion of folks within a half mile or mile saying that their quality of life is being affected by the noise (which is, in my experience, nearly always clearly audible at a half mile, and barely audible at greater distances).