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Windfarm science scandal

August 7, 2011

As you would all know, for me, Tony is the one. I will however, admit to having more than a passing fancy for the fabulously passionate Barnaby. I was therefore delighted to have my attention drawn to the Barnaby is Right website (thanks Dad!). And look what the cute looking guy who runs the site has to say about it. How cool is he!

Unlike political comment from The Left, this blog is not all about me.

It is dedicated to collating news, articles, and information from around the world, in support of Australian Senator Barnaby Joyce’s courageous and lonely fight to raise public awareness of Australia’s impending debt crisis.

Barnaby courageous and lonely? I think I’m in love. It’s a great site with lots of fun posts to trawl around which I thoroughly recommend you do.

Which brings me to wind farms. I watched the recent Four Corners program on the health effects of wind farms and remember thinking the ABC had done a real number on the topic. The message they were quite clearly selling was that in a wind farm area, any ill health could be attributed to “missing out syndrome”. People with turbines on their property earning a tidy amount of rent were happy and healthy and their neighbours who were not getting turbine rent were sick and poorly (and nudge, nudge, wink, wink probably, you know, mentally unstable). The Four Corners episode can be viewed here.

Well, I’ve since discovered I’m not the only one feeling a bit uneasy about the program – Barnaby is Right had some thoughts on the matter too.

On Monday evening, ABC’s Four Corners ran a story about wind farms and alleged adverse health effects.

I didn’t see it.

But I did see this story from Yahoo!7 referencing the Four Corners program.

And reading the last part immediately elevated my blood pressure (emphasis added):

Electrical engineer Graeme Hood from the University of Ballarat used audio equipment to check sound levels near the turbines.

He said although the turbines don’t sound very loud, they’re actually producing sound at a frequency too low to hear.

“The brain thinks it’s quiet, but the ears may be telling you something else or the body may be telling you something else, it’s much louder,” he said.

Anti-wind farm campaigner Dr Sarah Laurie said people within a 10km radius of turbines could be at risk of health problems such as elevated blood pressure and headaches.

But University of Adelaide professor Gary Wittert, who has conducted one of the first independent studies into wind farm health issues, denies there’s any link.

He used data from the the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to compare medical prescriptions of people living in areas with and without turbines.

His study involved 12,000 people living within a 10km radius around wind farms in South Australia and Victoria.

“There is no hint of any effect on a population basis for an increased use of sleeping pills or blood pressure or cardiovascular medications whatsoever,” he said.

Oh!

Right.

So that’s how a scientific “study” into possible adverse health effects is conducted is it?

Just scan the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme database, for purchases of certain kinds of prescription medication. 

And if people in areas near wind farms have not been running off to the doctor-thence-chemist to drug themselves up with prescription medicine at a demonstrably higher average rate than in other (unnamed) populated areas, then you come out singing for your politically-correct Clean Energy Future funding supper by claiming your “independent study” finds that there are no adverse health effects from wind farms.

A couple of really basic questions, Professor.

1. Were the comparative sample regions (wind farm vs no wind farm) identical geographically, and more importantly, topographically?

After all, we are talking about possible health effects that, if present, it is only logical to first hypothesise will be health effects most likely caused by physical forces (ie, “sound” or compression waves).  And thus, the “lay of the land” (ie, the topography), % ground cover, vegetation type and coverage, variant resonant effects of differing soil types, air temperature and density, even the prevailing wind direction and strength relative to both the compression wave source and the population centre/s, are all critically relevant factors, and thus must all be as nearly identical as possible between the sample sets, in order for a so-called “study” based solely on prescription medication purchases to have even a shred of relevance or credibility.

2. Were the sample subjects (the people) 100% commensurable in terms of their socio-demographs? In all respects?!

Like … were you comparing, say, areas of predominantly hard-working tough-’n-hardy rural folk living near said wind farms (and miles by car-only from the nearest doctor), with areas of predominantly obese TV-addicted couch potato welfare bogans living in non wind farm areas with half a dozen GP’s within a 10 minute taxpayer-subsidised bus ride?

In other words, were you comparing subjects who, in a socio-demographic context, are equally predisposed socially, psychologically, and financially, to run off to the doctor for prescription meds every time they feel a bit of a headache?  In a world where the standard societal “prescription” response to a headache – paracetamol and/or codeine – are readily available over-the-counter?

Here’s an idea, Professor Wittert.

Show us your raw data.

All of it.

Sheesh.

Galileo, Copernicus, Nicolas of Cusa, Newton, Einstein, and Feynman must be turning in their graves.

Doesn’t anyone do actual science anymore?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2011 2:33 pm

    Hi Ladies … thanks for the kind mention. Consider me henceforth “subscribed” 😉

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  1. Barnaby IS right! « politichix

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