The politics of evidence: Conflicting social commitments and environmental priorities in the debate over wind energy and public health

Journal Article

Title: The politics of evidence: Conflicting social commitments and environmental priorities in the debate over wind energy and public health
Authors: Taylor, J.; Klenk, N.
Publication Date:
January 01, 2019
Journal: Energy Research & Social Science
Volume: 47
Pages: 102-113
Publisher: Elsevier
Affiliation:
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Document Access

Website: External Link

Citation

Taylor, J.; Klenk, N. (2019). The politics of evidence: Conflicting social commitments and environmental priorities in the debate over wind energy and public health. Energy Research & Social Science, 47, 102-113.
Abstract: 

The question of whether wind turbines cause a range of adverse health effects has emerged as a key issue in social controversies over wind farms and become a topic of debate in the scientific literature. We review the literature from the perspective of Science and Technology Studies (STS) to examine the experimental evidence and argumentative reasoning constituting three main explanations for how wind turbines impact health: 1) Exposure to infrasound directly causes adverse physiological effects, 2) Exposure to audible noise is associated with annoyance and sleep disturbance, and 3) Psychogenic factors act as mediators to adverse effects. In addition to technical and pragmatic arguments, the debate consists of value-based arguments about the desirability of wind energy, how precautionary development should be, what counts as a valid health issue in public policy, and what counts as valid evidence in health research. Thus, it encompasses the conflicting social commitments and environmental priorities of the wider wind energy debate and the politics of evidence in the health sciences. It suggests the controversy is unlikely to be settled by science but that an STS perspective can provide insights to foster governance that more effectively addresses the complexity of health issues in wind energy transitions.

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