I don’t watch much TV, but recently while on vacation (in Hawaii!!!) I finished my latest read (Conn Iggulden’s “Conqueror”, which I recommend along with the entire series, for those who like historical fiction) and having nothing better to do (it was raining) I succumbed. “Frontline” was on, and it was a repeat of their October 8, 2013 broadcast of “League of Denial”. It is a 2-hour documentary about how the National Football League (the NFL) tried to hide the health impacts that players suffered from repeated blows to their heads. As I watched I couldn’t help but reflect on the similarities between the NFL’s actions and motivations and the wind industry’s. Downright spooky, in fact. Continue reading Frontline
Tag Archives: Chapman
Cullerin and Chapman
The Cullerin wind project is located in NSW, Australia, about 60 km NE of Canberra and 200 km SW of Sydney. At first glance it isn’t particularly remarkable. There’s 15 2.0 mw turbines, fairly tightly packed on a rise of about 130 m above the surrounding terrain. The area is sparsely populated, with maybe 50 people living within 5 km (the red line below) of any of its turbines.
The only reason I’m even mentioning Cullerin is that it has produced a remarkable number of complaints, directly contributing to an audit announced by the NSW government, a slowdown in wind project approvals , some of the strictest noise limits in existence and a bill introduced in the Australian Senate.
One Patina Schneider took it upon herself to run a survey of everyone within (more or less) 10 km of the project. Her results, published in August of 2012, are telling. To sum them up:
“73% of all residences out to 5km returned the survey with 85.7% of households indicating
that noise is present at their residence and property during the day and/or night, with 78.5%
of households reporting sleep disturbance from the noise generated by the wind energy
Here’s a timeline:
- July 2009 – project becomes operational
- Complaints started immediately
- February 2012 – audit announced
- August 2012 – Schneider’s first survey
- September 2012 – Senate bill introduced
- November 2012 – audit results released to the developers, NOT to the public
- August 2013 – Schneider’s follow-up survey published
Schneider’s follow-up survey added questions about whether or not the neighbors had complained to anyone. It turns out they had, an estimated 322 times, to just about everyone: the developer, their doctors, the local MP’s, the planning department etc. Certainly the authorities were aware of the problems at Cullerin. Problems which sadly continue to this day.
OK, so Cullerin’s a mess. How does Chapman come into this? In March 2013 he published a study purporting to conclusively demonstrate that the complaints about noise are due to Nocebo effects, and not to the actual noise. The centerpiece of that study was his Table 1, which showed the almost-complete agreement between noise complaints and anti-wind-activist activity in the area for all 49 wind projects then in Australia. That table includes Cullerin (thankfully clickable):The columns are: Name/Location/Developer, Size, Date, People Within 5 km, Complaints?, # of Complaints, Local Anti-Wind Activity. Note the obvious – he has Cullerin listed as having had NO COMPLAINTS! Maybe he asked the wrong people. Maybe the people he asked lied to him. Maybe there was no anti-wind activity there and having complaints would destroy his hypothesis.
This isn’t the first rending of this study. I critiqued it shortly after it came out, and additionally it has been thoroughly trashed by others with far more letters after their names than me: Hartman, McMurtry, Punch, Swinbanks, Rosenbloom among others. A common critique among these is that he made no serious attempt to go out into the field and find out what is actually going on. The mismatch between the reality of Cullerin and Chapman’s presentation of that reality is the result.
At best an error of this magnitude renders his entire study worthless, at least if you are actually interested in finding truth. At worst, it shows that Chapman is willing to change the data to fit his agenda. I’ll let my readers decide.
Chapman’s Nocebo Study
Simon Chapman, a public-health professor in Australia, has long maintained that the health and annoyance issues from wind turbines that people complain about are the result of nocebo. Recently he published a study that purports to conclusively demonstrate that those health complaints are not caused by the wind turbines; rather they are caused by anti-wind activists (presumably like me) instilling these ideas into people by our writings.
In an effort to give his study the fairest shake I could, I haven’t read it yet. Instead, I’m going to put myself in his position and think about what kind of study I’d have to do to and what it would have to show. After that exercise I’ll be looking through his paper to see if it in fact shows the things it needs to show to confirm his assertions. Continue reading Chapman’s Nocebo Study
17 Health Studies (3 of 3)
This is part 3 of my series on Chapman’s 17 health reviews. In this part I’ll take a closer look at the main underlying studies that his reviews use to establish their points.
Chapman’s most recently-published review (Massachusetts) correctly lists just 4 peer-reviewed journal-published studies (actual studies, as opposed to a review) on wind turbines and health (a fifth, Nissembaum, was published later). Yep, just 4. They are:
- Pedersen 2004
- Pedersen 2007
- van den Berg 2008 (or Pedersen 2009, same study)
- Shepherd 2011
Of the 17 reviews most of them at least refer to either 3 or 4 of these studies (depending on when the review was written) and a number of the 17 reviews use these studies as their central resource. If anyone is going to write about wind turbines and health it is almost inevitable that these studies get referenced. In short, they are central to the industry’s claims that wind turbines are not a health concern. Given their importance part 3 of this series will take a closer look at them. Continue reading 17 Health Studies (3 of 3)
17 Health Studies (2 of 3)
In part 1 of this series I introduced the reviews and listed them along with links. In this part I will delve a little deeper into the reviews, ending with a paragraph summarizing each one.
As a summary, here is a clickable chart of the 17 reviews and how I “rated” them on several criteria: Continue reading 17 Health Studies (2 of 3)
17 Health Studies (1 of 3)
Several months ago I started noticing references among wind energy proponents to 17 reviews of the evidence relating to health effects, all of which concluded there were no problems. The 17 reviews apparently originated with Simon Chapman, a professor in Australia. Initially I didn’t pay much attention to them – proponents are always claiming to have a mass of evidence that shows that wind turbines are safe, which is always contraindicated by actual neighbors. But when I saw that OSEA (the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association) mentioned the 17 reviews in a formal submission to Health Canada I thought I ought to take a look at them. To go through all 17 takes longer than one post, so I’ve split this one into 3 parts: (a) an overview and listing of the 17, (b) more detail on the 17, and (c) a look at their underlying source material.
I cannot image anyone reading through all 3 parts, but I wanted to make sure I gave the 17 every chance to show me that wind turbines are not a health hazard. In this, they failed. I came away with 3 major conclusions:
- the jury is still out on health impacts (but the jury is filing in);
- turbines disrupt sleep and create annoyance (enough to become a health issue);
- Chapman is a skilled cherry picker.