zhu difeng/Shutterstock.com

Public Health Professor Goes to Town on Australian Senate Inquiry Into Wind Farms

This is hilarious. Day = made.

BEC CREW
6 AUG 2015
 

As most Australians are aware, the current Abbott Government has taken a strong stance against renewable energy technologies - solar and wind in particular. In June, it announced that its Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will be banned from investing in wind power and "small-scale solar technologies" such as rooftop panels.

The move, while incredibly disappointing, was not surprising in the wake of the government’s much-discussed ‘War on Renewables', especially given Abbott’s personal opinion that the sight of wind turbines is "utterly offensive", having describing them publicly as "visually awful" and loud. And now, we’ve been given a glimpse into the recent Senate inquiry into wind turbines chaired by John Madigan, an independent Senator from Victoria who once declared that "submarines are the spaceships of the ocean". (Excuse us while we quickly run away and submit that to /r/showerthoughts)

 

The inquiry, which to many of us will seem like a curious waste of taxpayer money, was launched in response to the perceived health risks associated with living nearby wind farms. "Many people have blamed wind farms near their properties and the noise they make for all sorts of maladies, a great number of which seem like kind of a stretch," Alex McKinnon writes for Junkee. "How some giant spinning blades result in herpes, cataracts, or emu death is never fully explained by the people who make those claims."

Heard people throw up Wind Turbine Syndrome as a legitimate objection to wind energy? As McKinnon reports, according to the Australian Medical Association, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Public Health Association of Australia and others, there is no scientific evidence that wind farms make people sick. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that whomever came up with the phrase, "Wind Turbine Syndrome", is making people sick, because the anxiety felt by someone who thinks they’re at risk of getting sick can sometimes actually make them feel sick.

This psychogenic phenomenon, otherwise known as the 'nocebo effect’, was highlighted in the Senate inquiry into wind turbines, but for all the wrong reasons. 

In late June, Simon Chapman, a professor in public health at the University of Sydney, was called on by the inquiry to give evidence in response to 63 questions from Senator Madigan related to the public health issues of wind farms. His answers have now been released to the public, and they’re about what you’d expect when an award-winning scientist, whose research has been published in 498 peer-reviewed articles, is faced with questions insinuating that wind turbine noise near a jail in Victoria is evidence of torture.

You can read the whole document here. Be sure to check out his response to Question 16, which concludes with, "Infrasound generated by mere walking has been shown to be louder than the noise of wind turbines. (see Australian Acoustics Journal Dec 2014). I assume your committee is not concerned about walking noise health impacts?” 

Please no one make Walking Noise Syndrome a thing. Please.

We’ve picked out a few of the best parts for you below. Firstly, regarding health complaints by people living near wind farms:

question-1

Regarding Chapman's status as an expert sworn witness for wind farm company, Infigen Energy:

question-2

Regarding a seriously flawed Japanese study:

question-4 

Comparing wind farm noise to torture:

question-10

More From ScienceAlert

This old photo of a snake swallowed by a frog is giving us nightmares
5 hours ago