REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 347

Revolt news 24/12/2011 Print (pdf) Version

1. Neither overhead lines nor wind turbines are great in extreme weather. Severe winds in north Britain around 8 December caused widespread loss of power. A turbine at Ardrossan Windfarm can be seen bursting into flames on slide 13/13 at

2. Following the 16-17 November 2011 International Conference on EMF and Health, organized by the European Commission under the auspices of the SCENIHR, the Commission has requested an opinion from SCENIHR. There is a related public consultation with deadline 27 Jan 2012.

3. The phrase “there is no evidence” can be a tell-tale indication of the bias of the speaker, seeking haughtily to assure there is no risk, often when there is a great deal of meaningful scientific evidence suggesting a risk, but which on balance falls short of official acceptance as proof. Such uncertain but evidence-based risks include the IARC 2B classification, now with EMF at both power frequency and radio frequency. The phrase conveys a crushing dismissal of any trace of effect and insidiously ridicules all who express genuine evidence-based concern. There are countless examples in official statements and the phrase ought by now be seen as an indication of abuse of power.

4. So it was rather shocking to hear a Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing using the above tell-tale phrase and with forceful emphasis: “there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electro-magnetic fields is harmful to human health. I understand on matters related to health we take advice from the Health Protection Agency and their view accords with the World Health Organisation to the effect that no such evidence exists”.

5. The quote above is transcribed from Ewing’s parliamentary answer to Elizabeth Smith MSP on 7 Dec, as can be heard (at c. 35:30 in the video) in the link given in news346:

6. Ewing was clearly reading from a prepared script, so it does seem deliberate for its crushing and misleading effect. It would be helpful to get the precise source in HPA and also in WHO for this statement. The major WHO statement on the subject (EHC238) does use the phrase “there is no evidence” but only in specific respects, and it reaches the overall conclusion that precaution is warranted.

7. Much in Ewing’s statement rests on the interpretation of weasel words “to conclude” and “harmful”. While the evidence may not support a conclusion of certain and established harm to health, taken as a whole it does support the conclusion of possible harm to health. For most of us, evidence-based possible harm is harm enough, and an unwelcome imposition. The minister’s statement and his vocal emphasis give the misleading impression that there is no evidence at all which supports the possibility of harm. That is false and dishonest.

Statements made by the editor or by other parties and quoted for information do not necessarily represent the views of Revolt. Criticism of government and industry, and grievances from members of the public, are in the nature of Revolt's work, though we try to give credit where it is due. Revolt is strictly non-party-political and regrets any offence which may be inadvertently caused.




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