If I learned one thing from reading Australian professor Simon Chapman’s study on the origins of wind turbine sickness, it’s that turbines are terribly indecisive monsters. He points to a colleague’s study that describes 216 different diseases and symptoms linked to windpower turbines. Why can’t these things just pick a malady and stick to it?
We’ve seen reports of sleep deprivation, nausea, headaches … as one blogger put it, “All manner of vapors, demonic possession, bad juju, soured milk and frightened horses.”
Chapman’s conclusion is that sickness related to wind turbines is caused not by turbines themselves but by the power of suggestion. Suggestions from anti-wind activist groups, that is (tweet this). But how did Chapman arrive at this theory?
He looked at complaint records associated with 49 wind farms, totaling 1,616 turbines, operating between 1993 and 2012 in Australia. He took a liberal view of complaints, including those in the news media. He then looked at where anti-wind activist groups operated. As it turns out, complaints were far more prevalent in areas with an anti-wind presence.
Many outlets, from The Guardian to Discover, wrote about Chapman’s research, but they failed to include any graphics from the study – unbelievable because they were so impressive. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so in an amazing demonstration of efficiency, here are some pics:
This colorful chart , created in Google Trends, shows the rise of the term “wind turbine syndrome.” The phrase’s popularity has surely increased with the release of Chapman’s report.
This graph shows the number of wind farm complaints relative to the number of wind farms on a state-by-state basis. The chart demonstrates a lack of consistency between the percentage of farms receiving complaints and the different states. I’m no scientist, but that seems weird to me.
Finally, a piece of a chart that lacks color but is full of substance (the rest of the chart can be accessed in the report). It shows the relationship between anti-wind advocacy groups and wind farm complaints. I did a little highlighting to direct your attention.
Now that I’ve offered 3,000-words worth of pictures, here’s one more article that lends credence to the power of suggestion, at Phys.org.
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If you believe it is true then it is, as far as you are concerned. Believers and non believers. No matter what number of ‘facts’ or evidence you supply. Everything that we understand to be true in science is only ‘true’ because we haven’t been able to prove that it is not true. Doesn’t mean that it is absolutely the truth, just that it works for us to understand the world we live in and the tools we use to understand it from our point of view.
By the way, I would contend that statistics cannot lie but they can be misinterpreted, incorrectly analysed and selectively reported; example is recent REF report on wind turbines wearing out. The statistics here very simply show that nuisance is very weakly correlated with the presence of a wind turbine, so something else must be relevant, or the process is random. Possibly there are clusters of something-sensitive (genetically related?) people near to some wind farms. The thrust of all the discussions is that wind turbines should be banned everywhere because these clusters exist somewhere, or because in some places, for instance, wind turbine placement was wrong. I think the number of complaints for wind energy pales in to insignificance compared with nuclear plant (remember leukemia clusters) or airports.
First, I will declare that my livelihood has depended on wind energy for the last 23 years and that I am an urban dweller. The small piece of green land opposite my house is being developed in to a cheap, low-quality pub/restaurant. It was a true green-field site having never been built on since the city grew past it but no-one thinks these things important. They have just started building and I already don’t like the pub. I will be looking straight into the main enterance from my living room and bedroom. I am currently worrying about a series of ailments that will strike my family, possibly noise related, but most likely related to our powerful sense of smell which I know is about to be assaulted by burning steak and over-reheated chips (fries). I am already expecting that we may have to sell up our lovely house. Can anyone put me in touch with researchers and lawyers in the anti-wind campaigns so I can learn from their techniques? Perhaps we can help each other by identifying that it is the smell that is the real cause of WTS.
Steven Bushong says
Thank you for your comment, geni81. I’d say your right. Statistics can lie. But Chapman’s study was part of his work at The University of Sydney, and it corroborated many other reports. It’s likely that some people are affected negatively by turbines. Some people are also allergic to water. But you must look beyond anecdotes to larger pictures and bigger numbers to draw reasonable conclusions. These types of studies show a weak link between turbines and ill health.
It seems to me anyone can make anything turn out to suit. Why is it that over 600 wind farm victim associations from 27 countries all complain of the same symptoms. Sleep deprivation can have disastrous effects. Why is it that Mr. Chapman has not gone to the areas where people have abandon their homes and spoken to these people. Nice to tag them all with the ‘nocebo’ effect or some sort of personality when these were formerly hard working sensible people. Did the ‘nocebo’ effect pass from country to country via some sort of contact. Why is it that in the UK Mrs. Davis won her case although the settlement was out of court? Why is it that 7 families in Ireland are now suing because of noise? Why is it that momentum is gathering in some countries to follow suit? There is one study done which proved that with the latest modern equipment from a world renewed acoustician proved infrasound at a house 7 km from a wind complex. This person was not employed by an oil company but is an independent not against wind technology. Different people have different levels of hearing and in one report it states that 76% of people will have problems with sleep deprivation and that not everyone will be affected. Why is there ‘gag’ clauses in hosts contracts stopping them from saying anything negative for fear of legal ramifications. One former navy engineer who is a host has spoken out about what he and his wife have suffered. I hardly think having met him he has a personality disorder nor suffering the ‘nocebo’ effect. Why is it that the wind industry has so many complaints s opposed to other renewables and why not do independent research to prove one way or the other?