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Trees and Turbines

A tree planted on the street nearby or a wind turbine a kilometre away?

Both will be conspicuous. You will see and hear both. Both will benefit society by reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Both will impact nearby residents to a similar extent. One person might not like trees or a particular species of tree. If the wind blows all night and residents have windows open they might hear the wind blowing in the trees all night; this might annoy them, even keep them awake.

Do these things give them the right to stop a town council from planting trees when others want them and they will benefit the town and society as a whole?

Written 2015/03/31
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David Clarke) – ©
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Let's look at a hypothetical situation. A town council decides to plant street trees for several reasons: the trees will beautify the town, they will make the town cooler by providing shade and the council and townspeople in general want to be progressive and do their share toward combating climate change and reducing ocean acidification – the trees will take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

But a few people are against the project. They think that the trees will obstruct their views and that the wind in the trees will make noise that will keep them awake at night. Some of these people go so far as to claim that infrasound from the wind blowing through the trees will make them ill; there has even been a claim that the sleep deprivation to be imposed upon them amounts to torture. Others go so far as to say that the trees will 'destroy their lives'.

You might well think that this is ridiculous, but this is what some people are claiming about wind turbines. with as little justification. The level of sound from the wind in nearby trees is usually greater than the sound from turbines at a distance of a kilometre or so.

There is no credible evidence that anything coming from wind turbines makes people sick. A nearby wind farm will do no more harm to local people than change their views and produce a little low level sound that will only be noticeable occasionally. The sound from cars on the street will be much louder than from either trees or turbines.

And, of course, the wind farm will generate electricity that replaces that which would otherwise be generated by the burning of fossil fuels, lowering greenhouse gas production; in fact each wind turbine will, on average, abate about one tonne of carbon dioxide each hour of its 20 or 25 year life.

(A typical street tree might take one or a few tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere during its life time, and that will be returned to the atmosphere when the tree either is burnt or rots away.)

Some related pages...
Wind turbines and health, the facts;
Wind energy opposition;
Wind power problems, alleged problems and objections
Wind turbines save lives
Why you should not believe that turbines cause sickness;



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