Dr Bruce Rapley has been researching the effects of acoustical energy on humans for 15 years and has made first-hand observations of those effects. He’s been following the Australian/New Zealand wind turbine noise controversy for some time. In 2011 he was a co-author of a paper on the problems of measuring wind turbine noise, submitted to the Australian Acoustical Society.
On March 18, 2014, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) released a position paper on wind turbines, noise and health effects. In essence, it said that there is no evidence that the noise from wind turbines causes any health impacts, and that whatever health effects exist do so only because of “misinformation” from people like me.
It took Rapley just 10 days to respond in an open letter that went through the AMA’s position paper on a sentence-by-sentence basis and eviscerated all but one of those sentences. Rapley’s letter is 9 pages long and very readable. If you want a concise series of replies to the wind industry’s talking points (which have seemingly been adopted whole hog by the AMA) then this is an excellent reference.
Rapley, Letter to the Australian Medical Association.
AMA, Position Paper (backup link).
Rapley et al, Environmental Noise: Better Measures and Reporting Needed, 2011 Paper for the Australian Acoustical Society
Humans have used models to describe and predict their environment for millennia. With the advent of computers the number and sophistication of these models has taken a quantum leap. Many have proven their worth, and their impact upon our view of the universe has been profound. Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable that something with this much influence over our affairs will be misused by those whose with a self-serving agenda – much like junk science.
Dr. Nicholas Kouwen, in his study on wind turbine noise, discovered that the models used to predict that noise substantially underestimated it – a most convenient result, given Ontario’s regulatory regime, for the developer who hired the modellers. In his commentary on why this disconnect occurred he mentioned empirical models and their limitations. I thought the topic was important enough for a separate posting, and here it is. Continue reading Kouwen on Models
One of the November 2011 Discover magazine’s major articles is “Up In Smoke“. The byline is “Fire researchers have have shattered dozens of arson myths in recent years. So why do American courts still lag behind?” The article goes on to relate how arson investigators have historically used a series of fire-scene indications to determine if that fire was an arson, typically started with some sort of accelerant. These investigators were deemed by the courts to be expert witnesses, and a number of people were convicted (and even executed) on the basis of their testimony. Now, it turns out, most of what these experts thought they knew about fires was in fact wrong. Continue reading Up In Smoke
The Chatham-Kent council requested a report on the potential health impacts of wind turbines from their local public health officer, Dr. Colby. He did some research and produced this report, which is commonly known as Colby (2008). It covered several areas of potential health problems – noise, flicker, accidents and so on. I looked at just the noise section, going through it sentence by sentence, following up on what the references really said. This was the first of two Colby health studies, the second was as a part of the AWEA/CanWEA Expert Panel.
My Critique of the Colby Health Review
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) ganged together to produce this literature review of studies on health effects of wind turbines. They paid 7 “experts” (none of whom was an epidemiologist), one of whom was the same Dr. Colby who had previously staked out his position with the Chatham-Kent Health Study. This study is also known as Colby (2009) since he was alphabetically first.
Like the earlier Colby work, this one never went into the field to see what was really going on. It was published 3 days after the release of Dr. Pierpont’s Wind Turbine Syndrome and spent a great deal of ink disparaging her book. It recognized that not much was known about some of the effects of wind turbines but then astonishingly recommended no further study.
My Critique of the AWEA/CanWEA Expert Panel
My Critique of “The Real Truth about Wind Energy”
The Sierra Club of Canada recently published a literature review entitled “The Real Truth about Wind Energy” [backup link]. It was their director’s response to some criticism he’s been getting about the Sierra Club’s support of wind energy in some questionable locations, for example Ostrander Point. Their web site currently has this report prominently featured and the director (John Bennett) has been talking it up in visits around Ontario.
Update – they updated their report. When I get a chance I might look to see if anything really changed.
I took a look at it and discovered it was filled with anything but the truth in any form, real or not. Then I marked down the parts of the report that I had problems with – which included large swaths of it – and checked their references to see how they arrived at their real truth. Not surprisingly, their references were either friendly or misused, in the same way a lot of proponent reports seem to be. We’re not talking about difference of opinions here. We’re talking about research that is fundamentally flawed, even borderline fraudulent.
My critique runs 21 pages, of which 15 are the critique followed by 6 pages with corrected links to all the references I regarded as important. It contains 51 passages I commented on, and in order to put them into context I annotated them in a marked copy of the original report which would be handy to have alongside my critique while reading it.
You’d have to be some sort of weird to read through all 51 (as I would have to be some sort of weirder to have written them in the first place) so I’d suggest scanning through and picking one of interest and taking the time to follow through to their reference just to see how crappily this report was put together. My personal favorite is #14, but #18 and #8 are also particularly interesting.
And if you find where I’ve made a mistake, please let me know. I really am interested in finding the Real Truth, unlike so many others.
One of the major weapons in the wind energy proponents’ quiver is a report titled 20% Wind Energy by 2030. It was published by NREL, the National Renewable Energy Labs, which is part of the U.S. Dept. of Energy, in May 2008. It lays out a blueprint on how the U.S. could attain 20% of its electricity production by 2030. It has been widely used as an authoritative source by just about every industry body and many green-leaning politicians as well, all the way up to President Obama. Since the DOE is headed by a Nobel-prize-winning physicist (Dr. Steven Chu), and they’ve got lots of money and PhD-level people, you’d think such an important report would be unassailable, especially by a mere mortal from a small town in Ohio, working out of his garage (literally). You might be thinking that I’m just another anti-wind agitator who would always find something to quibble about in any otherwise solid piece of work. I hope that after reading this posting you’ll have some appreciation of just non-quibbly the problems are, and how truly stupid we are for using it to justify all the financial, environment and social costs of wind energy. Continue reading Another Look at 20% by 2030
Dr. Robert McCunney was one of the seven authors of the December 2009 AWEA/CanWEA Expert Panel Review on health, which I critiqued and more importantly the Society for Wind Vigilance critiqued. Following the Review, McCunney has continued making appearances to different groups to present his opinions on the health issues of wind turbines, and has more recently appeared as an expert in hearings in Vermont. He has solid credentials, MIT and all, but when you get past his predictably professional-sounding assertions, you end up discovering that either he didn’t do his homework or he is in the pocket of the wind industry. I’ll let you decide. Continue reading Dr. McCunney
In June 2009 Dr. Dora Mills released a health study, which (of course) I critiqued. Along with not being able to find any negative health issues with wind turbines she also mentioned their positive health benefits due to reduced emissions. Her numbers came from Maine’s Department of Environment Protection, but I couldn’t find how the DEP came up with them. Just recently I came across a series of emails that were obtained via the FOAA in Maine, and in there was my answer! My main concern with her health study is her inability to find any health effects from wind turbines so the emissions numbers are a sideshow. I ordinarily wouldn’t bother with a separate posting on them, except the DEP’s method was so dishonest I felt I had to.
Continue reading How Maine’s DEP Figures Emissions
As promised in my part 1, I’ve read through the longer noise and health report from Maine’s chief of public health, Dr. Mills. After going through the short release I was prepared for a pretty poor report, but it exceeded even my rock-bottom expectations. Of the five critiques I’ve done so far, hers is the worst. My critique runs twelve pages, about twice the size of her report. It gets pretty tedious in places, I’m afraid, but I wanted to fully document just how poor this report was.
From my conclusion:
I hope I’ve accurately conveyed just how weak the foundation of Mills’ dismissal of the health effects of wind turbines was. Not only did she not go into the field to interview any victims or doctors, she didn’t even bother trying to find any studies that went into the field and interviewed any victims or doctors. How in the world someone can not even look for something and then in good conscience declare they didn’t find it? This study will end up causing harm to Maine’s citizens as it will allow developers to continue placing projects too close to people’s homes. It appears that Dr. Mills values her job over her professional obligations, and that is shameful, simply shameful.
Health studies purporting to show there’s no adverse health effects from wind turbines are everywhere these days, it seems. To date I have posted detailed critiques of four of them: Chatham (Colby), AWEA/CanWEA (Colby et al), Ontario CMOH (King) and Australia’s NHMRC. They vary in quality a great deal, from merely bad to just outrageous. But they all have two things in common: (1) none of them has ever wandered into the field to interview either victims or their doctors, and (2) they were all sponsored by someone with either an interest in wind energy or who was publicly committed to it. It is as though the wind industry has come up with a health-effects-denying template that on the face of it is defensible, and that template will get used and reused until it is no longer so.
Maine’s Report was authored by Dr. Dora Mills, who is the head of Maine’s public health service. Keep in mind that her boss, Governor Baldacci, is a serious supporter of wind energy. She claims [backup link] to have researched “several dozen papers and other sources of information” and has concluded “I do not find evidence to support a moratorium on wind turbine projects.”
Continue reading Maine’s Health Study – part 1
As promised in part 1, here is my critique of the Australian NHMRC’s Rapid Review, which concerned health and wind turbines. To sum it up succinctly, the Rapid Review is arguably the worst in a long series of bad health reviews. Quite the honor, I suppose. My critique runs 13 pages; here are my Parting Thoughts from it.
Continue reading The NHMRC Rapid Review – part 2
The National Health and Medical Research Council is part of the Australian Government. As the name implies, they conduct medical research on a wide variety of public health issues. Recently they waded into the wind turbine controversy, issuing a Public Statement [backup link] and and Evidence Review [backup link]. This pair of papers follows the long and sad tradition of similar papers recently published in Canada and the U.S. Continue reading NHMRC Health Statement – Part 1
I’ve written one short posting on the King Report already and certainly the Society for Wind Vigilance has written about it also. Those postings are still appropriate. I’ve recently taken the time to go through the King Report in more detail, and it is even worse than I originally thought. Since King never went into the field, a problem in itself, of necessity her references constitute all she knows of wind turbines and health. Here I take a closer look at her study, her references and how she used them.
Continue reading More on the King Report
I can still remember my initial looks at the web sites of wind industry proponents like AWEA and CanWEA. Their copy certainly looked impressive, with all that certainty, all those references and my intuitive sense that wind energy was a good thing. Then I made the mistake of actually following through to the references and right away the “wait-a-minute” flags started flying. I may have no experience in the energy industry, but I do have a scientific bent and I’m pretty good at detecting nonsense when I see it. And boy did I see it! I cannot remember when I’ve seen a major industry so consistently present such crappy evidence, regardless of the particular topic. Their talk of “sound science” is truly Orwellian. Intrigued, I dug deeper and the result is this web site. I’ve gathered some of the most egregious examples below.
Continue reading Bad Science Examples