Radio interview with physician, Dr. Alan Watts (Australia)

Dec 13, 2012

  1. Comment by Dr Sarah Laurie on 12/13/2012 at 5:16 pm

    Dear Dr Watts,

    Thank you for exposing some of the ethical issues which have arisen with wind turbines and the medical profession.

    All trained medical practitioners have a centuries-old, sacred responsibility to “first, do no harm”. In some circumstances, such as pedophilia, child abuse, and domestic violence, remaining silent, when abuse and harm is occurring, is aiding and abetting that harm.

    And so it is with wind turbines, where medical colleagues remaining silent has indeed aided and abetted that serious harm, for some years.

    Those of us within the medical profession globally who choose to speak out about these serious health problems have been labelled as scaremongers.

    This is a deliberate attempt to try and intimidate us into being quiet.

    But we are growing in number, and we will not be silenced.

    There is no doubt that knowledge of what is happening to their fellow rural residents is indeed provoking stress, anxiety and depression in others. But it is the inaction of the responsible authorities to act to end the harm being caused at existing wind developments, and in approving new developments, which is causing the most psychological distress, coupled with the knowledge that this harm is occurring to others, and might happen to them or their families.

    The “nocebo effect” is being invoked by the deniers of the evidence of harm to human health from wind turbines and other sources of infrasound and low frequency noise and vibration. Those who use this argument need to remember that for a physician to use the diagnosis of “nocebo” without having done the necessary research FIRST to properly and thoroughly investigate the cause of the reported health problems, would be considered a serious form of medical malpractice.

    This “medical malpractice” is being perpetrated by governments and health authorities around the world, who are ignoring the accumulating evidence, both clinical, and legal, of serious harm. One day, those responsible will indeed be held accountable for their actions and omissions which have caused such damage.

    In my work as a rural family physician or general medical practitioner, I helped establish a service for survivors of rape and sexual abuse. The people who had been so abused told me that the most important thing for them was to be taken seriously, and for the abuse to stop. Sadly, for them, this does not always happen when they are seeking help from health professionals and others whose help and protection they have sought.

    In my current voluntary work as the CEO of the Waubra Foundation, I am encountering a similar but different pattern of abuse by those who knowingly perpetrate but deny the existence of adverse health problems, namely the wind developers. These companies, and the individuals who work within them, are well aware of the harm to health which is occurring, and at times have admitted it to myself and others. They have contracts with “gag” or confidentiality clauses, indicating that they know full well that there are adverse health effects both for turbine hosts and their families, and for the neighbours of wind developments (who do not financially benefit). The existence of these clauses and contracts was discussed at length by Senator Chris Back in the Australian Federal Senate on 30th October, 2012, and numerous examples and quotes from these contracts were tabled in parliament.

    This practice of silencing sick and vulnerable people is also used with neighbours to mining projects, such as the former residents of Wollar and the Cumbo Valley in the Upper Hunter Valley region in New South Wales, and with former neighbours of gas fired power stations, such as Uranquinty, in New South Wales.

    How many people are being silenced from speaking out about their health problems which result from this noise and vibration pollution?

    No one knows….

    This makes it all the more important that health professionals do speak out about what is happening to their patients, and demand that there is better noise regulation enforcement, and significantly increased buffer distances between these industrial facilities and homes and workplaces, in addition to the urgent research which is required.

    What is NOT required, but is occurring, is behaviours by medical practitioners, such as telling the patient to leave their homes but “I can’t or won’t put it in writing”, or “its all about the jobs” (in a town where wind turbine blades are made) or telling their patient they just “have to get used to it”, if they also have a personal financial or ideological interest in wind developments, such as has been reported to have happened at Daylesford in Victoria, by the patients of doctors who have a personal interest in the local “community” wind development called Hepburn Wind. Disturbingly this is also occurring in other sites after the local doctor has been provided with “educational” material from a wind developer who (of course) is denying the existing scientific evidence, despite the clear reports of harm they are being given by their longstanding patient.

    There are many professionals who have acted as “enablers” to this ongoing serious abuse, and sadly, medical academic and public health colleagues are part of this group, in addition to wind industry acousticians and the lawyers who draw up these legal contracts.

    I hope the “cri de coeur” of Dr Watts is heeded by these medical colleagues, who have an ancient vocational obligation, resulting from the privilege of a medical education, partly or fully funded by the taxpayers in their own country, to “first, do no harm”.


The comments are closed.