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« Crashing the Gate, by Armstrong & Moulitsas | Main | A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn »

Dog whistles, Elfin Sounds, and Standing in the Way of Progress

By Paul Faber
April 1, 2007

We all know about dog whistles. They make sounds that are quite real, but so high pitched that only dogs and small kids and others with amazingly good hearing can hear them at all. But we might not know as much about elfin sounds. Well, really they are LFN sounds.

And we all know about infrared and ultraviolet light. The light is real, but our eyes are not suited to register it. Of course, we can develop instruments that "see" this light, and the light can then be represented for us in ways we can see. But the actual infrared light is lower in frequency than the light we can see, and the ultraviolet is higher in frequency than the visible spectrum.

Again, the light outside of the visible spectrum can have quite real effects. Ultraviolet--often called "UV radiation"--is the main cause of sunburn, for example, and repeated exposure to the UV rays leads to skin cancer in many people.

Just as there is light too high in frequency to see and too low, and just as there is sound too high in frequency to hear, so also there is sound too low for us to hear. This is low frequency noise, or "LFN." We might call them "elfin sounds," except that sounds way too cute.

Unfortunately, LFN is produced by wind turbines. Even more unfortunately, CPV Wind Hays LLC has proposed putting 130 or more of these wind turbines within "hearing" distance of a number of homes to the west of Hays. And we live in one of them.

The lower the frequency, the farther the "noise" travels, even if it is inaudible, and the more it travels through materials, including not only through the air, but through the ground and right through the walls of a home. In fact, just because of the way it will penetrate things, the military has in fact used Ultra Low Frequency sounds--these are sounds that are lower yet than those caused by industrial wind power production--as a means of communication.

Because the big windmills generate LFN, those who live within a mile or even 1.5 miles (depending upon ground conditions and topography) are subject to this "noise," even when it is inaudible.

Like dog whistles and UV radiation, LFN is quite real and can have quite real effects.

These real effects have been recognized by the military. The Toronto Star (of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and not the slightly smaller Toronto in Marion County, Kansas) - The Toronto Star in an article entitled "The Cutting Edge: Military Use of Sound" reported that the Israeli army has developed a weapon using LFN to make people feel sick (6 June 2005). "It has no adverse effects," writes the newspaper, "unless someone is exposed to the sound for hours and hours."

We have lived here for hours and hours - about 18 and a half years, actually, except for some time we had to move to town while the house was being rebuilt after the tornado of October 16, 1998. And we hope to continue to live here for hours and hours.

Others have done studies of just what those adverse effects are when people are subjected to LFN for extended periods.

Nina Pierpont, a pediatrician from upstate New York who has her M.D. from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. from Princeton, writes about Wind Turbine Syndrome, which includes problems with sleeping, headaches (including increased number and severity of migraines for those who already are at risk for migraines), dizziness, exhaustion and associated anxiety, anger, and depression, and problems concentrating and learning.

Researchers in Europe (Castelo Branco and Alves-Periera) are making progress on understanding the actual physiological changes that one undergoes with repeated exposure to LNF. With that understanding of the causal processes, they are able to call it a disease, more particularly, "vibroacoustic disease" or "VAD." Their 10-year study of 140 people who live or work in LFN-rich environments revealed a very significant increase in heart or vascular related trouble as well as in the kind of clinical symptons Dr. Pierpont has pointed to: "depressions, increased irritability and aggressiveness, a tendency for isolation, and decreased cognitive skills are all a part of the clinical picture of VAD."

Generating electrical power by harnessing the wind is probably a good thing. I am not as confident about the economics of it as some are, and I am very, very concerned with the day when the wind power factory has outlived its economic utility to CPV Hays Wind LLC and all 130 or so windmills are abandoned. (Just do some research on how easy it is for an LLC, a limited liability company, to have its assets transferred to the parent company so the LLC can go bankrupt and leave its responsibilities behind.) And there certainly are a host of other concerns. But the big problem for me is the health problem. If we can rely upon science--upon observed, analyzed, and tested past cases--then we have to recognize that living near industrial wind power generators is dangerous.

I will not live here if they build them as proposed.

So it seems like there are two ways out. One: the industrial wind electrical generators could not be built at all.

Or two: they could be built, but built more than a mile-and-a-half from homes. I would recommend that they be built, but that they be built farther west in Kansas, where they can be built without abutting residential areas.

If the only way they can be built is where they are presently planned, then the developer, CPV Hays Wind LLC, should buy up the property of those who will no longer be willing or able to live in their homes.

To intentionally bring about disease and suffering to my family and my neighbors is wrong, even if it would provide more electrical power for the people of Hays or Denver.

Comments (1)


I believe you are absolutely right on target in your essay above. In addition to the sound and other issues you raise, I've also read about errant current running through the ground below the towers. I don't know if it's true or not, but it's worth looking into.

There are plenty of places in Western Kansas where wind farms are very welcome...such as Spearville and Montezuma. That's where all of them should be located, on cultivated soil, away from populated areas. They'd rather have wind farms than feed lots and packing plants. Their choices are few.

My guess is they are going to follow I-70 west to the Colorado line with wind farms.

Keep up the good work.

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