back to article Wind farms make you sick … with worry and envy

Professor Simon Chapman, the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets, has turned his attention to “wind turbine sickness”, the condition caused by infrasound vibrations from the turbines' colossal blades. Chapman believes the condition is bunk and has co-authored a paper, titled Spatio-temporal …

COMMENTS

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  1. Neoc

    "Chapman and his co-authors assert that if real health problems existed, peer-reviewed studies would exist detailing the issues."

    Maybe it's just me, but that argument seems specious. "People shouldn't bother studying this because it's a hoax" and "it's a hoax because no-one studies it" seems a little circular for my taste.

    1. Allan Thomas

      I think the point of the paper is that the 'wind farm illness' is most likely psychological than physical given the current stats.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Just because it's psychological doesn't mean it's NOT an illness. Of course, it means that the cure is simple - stop accepting and internalising the scaremongering arguments that get thrown around with gay abandon

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      "Maybe it's just me, but that argument seems specious. "People shouldn't bother studying this because it's a hoax" and "it's a hoax because no-one studies it" seems a little circular for my taste."

      I'm pretty certain that groups opposed to wind farms would stump up the cash for such a study and it would be published in a reputable medical journal if it met the appropriate thresholds for quality to pass peer review.

    3. Steve Brooks

      peer reviewed?

      You miss the point of the statement, and no it's not circular. Its not that studies don't exist, there are probably plenty around produced by the anti-windfarm activists, but once these studies are presented for peer review none of them pass, therefore the statement is, "we have no peer-reviewed" studies, and not "we have no studies."

    4. buyone
      Facepalm

      Chapman forgot to measure the infrasound produced so he doesn't know who in his sample was subject to what, so no comparison is possible. Rather like doing a drug trial and forgetting to record who was the control group.

      Is this science? and who would want to pay for it?

      1. itzman

        Indeed..

        The problem with infrasound is it propagates in strange ways and can be massively amplified by resonance in structures.

        It is also very disturbing if perception of it is subliminal. I remember years ago feeling very odd, in a friends basement flat. Eventually I realised it seemed to be periodically trembling. "Oh yes, the tube is just underneath" he said.

        Once I knew what it was, my instinctive 'flight or fight' reaction subsided..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Re: Indeed..

          Well I get Ultra Low Infrasonic Sound Waves amplifying in the resonant cavity between my ears, and this results in psychogeneis of the osciliatory resonance nerve behind my eyeballs, which transductancely stimulates the optic nerves to alternately brighten and dim my vision if I am within a 500Km radius of a wind turbine.

          Even the ones that are not rotating cause it.

          It's THAT bad.

          "Oh Jesus, Jesus, pick me up in your UFO and take me to heaven on the dark side of the moon, with the Atlanteans and their Alien tech - I have my tin foil hat on....."

  2. cyborg
    FAIL

    Sounds like fan death to me

    There is nothing so wrong someone somewhere won't believe it.

    1. MacGyver
      Trollface

      Re: Sounds like fan death to me

      Ignorance is usually the deciding factor as to whether or not someone believes in "fan-death".

      I have slept with a fan running in my room (for the white-noise sound it makes) with the windows closed for almost a decade, I wake up every day, surprised to still be alive.

      1. Dave Bennett
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Sounds like fan death to me

        MacGyver - you owe me a new keyboard. That is all.

  3. LarsG
    Meh

    Lived with wind turbines all around us for years while living in Germany. I can see 20 from the kitchen window. However it was the nuclear power plant at the bottom of the valley (near Hameln) on the river Weser and with the prevailing winds always heading in our direction that was of more concern.

    Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer, though they are generally all older than 85+ when they die.

    Would they have lived to 100 if there had been no power plant?

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      You'd have to look at the numbers and types of cancer against other control groups who have lived a similar lifestyle but not lived near a nuclear plant. Honestly, with that age group my hunch might be more towards exposure to chemicals during ww2 or similar. 85+ is a decent innings. Is there any prevalent type of cancer? i.e. thyroid? I don't mean to sound callous or try to debunk your comment but octogenarians dying of cancer, whilst sad, is not entirely remarkable.

      As for turbines making people ill, I don't like them, they are ugly and noisy and expensive, but making people ill? Some people think a wifi router 200 feet away makes them ill, some people think little green men make them ill. Whilst it's possibly worth a small scale study to genuinely look at it if there are enough cases, my gut feeling (ok, not exactly scientific) is that it is absolute bollocks of the highest order and just the normal whining from people with nothing better in their lives.

      Also a leaky nuclear plant wouldn't be very efficient and that wouldn't be very German would it :)

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Efficiency

        Also a leaky nuclear plant wouldn't be very efficient and that wouldn't be very German would it

        Oh, I don't know. The nuclear plants here don't have a particularly good record for efficiency just for making money for the owners which they do pretty shortly after being turned on. Or even after being turned off: we're looking at claims from up to € 20 billion from the owners about them being closed early. Against that background it's hardly surprising that the current environment minister is keen to talk absolutely anything else!

        1. Corinne

          Re: Efficiency

          "Or even after being turned off: we're looking at claims from up to € 20 billion from the owners about them being closed early"

          Well that one IS sort of reasonable. Theoretical calculations follow, not based on any specific case but a feasible example....

          They spent the money up front to build a facility on the basis of a certain life, having worked out that it will have paid for itself after x years and it's lifespan is x+10 years thereby giving a decent return on the investment compared to sticking it in a bank. This will have been underpinned by assurances by the German giovernment that they would buy the electricity generated. They then get told they have to turn it off after x-10 years, before it's even paid for the construction costs, and despite the assurances they'd received before building the facility. So yes reasonable that they've asked for compensation in this case.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: Efficiency

            Which is absolutely reasonable and totally against the way a 'market' functions.

            Which is why the market is a stupid way to meet societies need for power. And why the lights are about to start going out in blighty, that is if we don't adopt the same approach as the Germans and makeup the capacity shortfall (in their case from closing the nukes, in ours from stupidity) by buying in french leccy (nuclear sourced, of course)

            hey ho, it's a good job that stable and reliable electricity supplies are not a key requisite for a modern economy!

            oh, hang on a minute.....

          2. James Micallef Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Efficiency

            "So yes reasonable that they've asked for compensation in this case."

            especially because there was no real reason for the plants to close besides FUD about Fukushima. It's like telling Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW, Opel to stop producing cars because a 20-year old Toyota failed a crash-test

            1. Lars Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Efficiency

              "FUD about Fukushima". As much as I hate to say it, there was not much FUD about Fukushima. They (the company) blew it. They had been told in advance that they did not have the amount of back up electricity to run down the plant properly, if a problem. They just ignored that warning, out of greed or stupidity or both. And while some say nobody has died they omit the number of suicide among those who cannot return to their homes.

              I am for nuclear power (and not against wind or sun power) because nuclear is, and can be improved in every respect. Also there are so many countries where the only real alternative to nuclear is burning coal, oil and the like, and we have more or less run out of improvements there.

              1. James Micallef Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: Efficiency

                @Lars - re "FUD about Fukushima"

                Apologies, I did not express myself properly. I didn't mean that Fukushima was in any way safe (although the consequences WERE over-hyped), nor that TEPCO didn't have any responsibility.

                What I meant is that in the aftermath of Fukushima, the FUD was being spread in Germany about the possibility of a Fukushima-style incident at one of the German reactors, while in reality this was a FAR more remote possibility* . Germany is extremely stable geologically, does not have coastline prone to flooding, big hydro plants in the vicinity where a dam can fail etc etc, so there was no real safety reason to close German nuclear plants down.

                * (I'm not saying impossible since there is always a small margin, but as close to impossible as can be practical)

          3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Efficiency

            Well that one IS sort of reasonable. Theoretical calculations follow, not based on any specific case but a feasible example....

            Oh, I agree. It was one of most egregious mistakes of the current government, against the express advice of the then minister, to reverse the previous law on phasing out nuclear power and reverse that decision only two months later after having signed contracts with the power companies. The matter is now with the courts and as property is protected by the constitution I think it has a high chance of succeeding which is why I expect we will have to pay and why the current minister is throwing up smoke bombs about the renewables cross-subsidy.

          4. Radbruch1929

            Re: Efficiency

            Thank you for the analysis and allow me to add one thing: You need a licence in order to operate a nuclear power station in Germany. Initially, that licence was granted for a certain number of years. Then, it was linked to the electricity output. Now, the federal government combined the output limitation with a deadline. It is the latter limitation that may be a problem as it was introduced when the former (output limitation) had not expired yet.

      2. PatientOne

        "As for turbines making people ill, I don't like them, they are ugly and noisy and expensive, but making people ill?"

        Actually, in theory they can (or at least make people feel ill), but it would be dependent on varying conditions such as wind speed.

        Engineers might understand the first issue: Harmonics. Sound waves can induce nausea, headaches and other 'illnesses' if they're at the right frequency and exposure is maintained for a period of time.

        Magnetic fields can cause problems, too.

        Flickering from the blade rotation can affect some people.

        Vapor from lubricants, paints and other chemicals can cause a feeling of illness.

        Of cause, as I noted at the start, all the above are dependent various conditions, and these include proximity to the source, and most can easily be avoided or prevented. As such, they generally apply to people working on the wind farms more than people in the surrounding area. The only exception is harmonics, which vary depending on wind speed. The drone from the turbines is reported to cause disturbance to sleep patterns which can lead to illness. This has been reported by people living in valleys where wind farms have been sited, and by people living close to the turbines. It is a common argument presented to oppose a new wind farm being erected.

        Thing is, a small scale study will be unlikely to uncover the truth. It would take a long term study to find out what the health implications are and those are expensive. I believe, however, that such studies are being undertaken, funded by people on both sides of the fence, so to speak. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is, but I'm predicting a bun fight.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          True it is vaguely possible but some people are affected by the weirdest of things.

          If there is enough provisional evidence and a statistical link then sure yes do a study, but it has to be a genuine, independant study that gets peer reviewed. Not either side getting a prof that needs a donation for a sem to knock up something pretty in spss that proves nothing.

          I live maybe 120 miles from an active volcano, when the wind blows in the wrong direction a few people complaint about 'vog' and how they can't possibly work today yadda yadda. Personally I don't notice it, I haven't ever noticed it, then again I don't check the wind direction the minute I wake up and decide in. advance it will be terrible. It would be interesting to have the weather forecast lie and see how the 'sensitive folks' react. It may be genuine! I could be tempted to lay a small wager it's not however, especially as these are the type of folks who get everything they see on TV including restless leg syndrome (no really).

          1. Tom 13

            If there is enough provisional evidence

            Needs a bit more than a peer review these days. I'd say it also has to have the cleansed and aggregated data published as well. As far down the scale as you can get without disclosing PII.

            If you are sensitive it is genuine. If you aren't sensitive what makes it even more confusing is that it isn't necessarily consistent for those of us who are. I'd say 9 times out of 10 I'm the first person to notice the smell of insulation burning off an electrical wire, but other things I can' smell because of my allergies. Perfume is another thing that can set me off (and oddly enough it is more often men who cause the problem) depending on the scent. I'd imagine the sulfur dioxide would be the issue with the volcano and that's on the list of things I notice. And until LCDs took over the market, I was usually the first guy to hear the monitor hum on the soon to be failing CRT.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Were they.....

          Standing on their heads at the time?

          Or were there Klingons orbiting Uranus?

        3. Tom 13
          Trollface

          Re: Actually, in theory they can (or at least make people feel ill)

          I blame it on the dead birds. You see that many dead birds near a place and you know if something isn't already wrong, it soon will be.

        4. kakapo

          " Infrasound is not heard, it is felt. Infrasound holds a terrible secret in its silent roar. Infrasound produces varied physiological sensations which begin as vague “irritations”. At certain pitch, infrasound produces physical pressure. At specific low intensity, fear and disorientation. Nazi propaganda engineers methodically used infrasound to stir up the hostilities of crowds who were gathered to hear their madman. The results are historical nightmares."

          http://journal.borderlands.com/1996/the-sonic-weapon-of-vladimir-gavreau/

      3. Tom 13

        I'll concur about turbine illness

        but the approach in the debunking paper doesn't sound a whole lot better than the other idiots.

        What was that line from Romeo and Juliet?

        Oh yeah:

        A plague on both your Houses!

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      > Would they have lived to 100 if there had been no power plant?

      Would they have lived if they hadn't died?

      I do feel that the "wind turbines make me sick" thing is pure imagination, but there is no reason to go for the "nuclear power plants do me in" thing. If the latter were the case, then it would be evident. Greenfags and Gaiaists have been crawling all over the stats for half a century now. It's like the "overhead high voltage lines cancer me up" thing.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        That neon cat sick green colour ford use on their cars makes me sick, I can supply pictures as proof. Can we have that banned and some compo please!!

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      > Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer,

      Not so strangely, you'll find that is true everywhere. If you haven't died of something else by the time you're 85, the odds are pretty high that you'll have a cancer of some sort. Most people will die with it, rather than of it, though.

      It is one of the reasons that cancer seems more common, we can deal with most of the things that used to kill people earlier, before the cancer was noticed.

      1. Michael M

        > Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer,

        Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humour. It's too subtle for some readers here.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Perhaps like the Spanish Inquisition, we just weren't expecting it!

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: a sense of humour

          "Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humour."

          From reading the messages in response to LarsG I was going to suggest he used the joke alert next time not to confuse people. But on an other note, about shutting down nuclear plants. Politicos do funny thing in front of elections, fishing for votes, fearing to die. That happened in Sweden, and is more or less forgotten now.

          The same thing happened in Germany and they will wake up too, eventually, I hope, lets say with some slight compromise like shutting down the oldest an smallest. I think that is a lesser stupidity than shutting down all.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not always the power station you have to worry about...

      Up this end of the world we have Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station, a 60s vintage beast of a thing, now being decommissioned.

      Some people in the area blamed the site for a slightly higher than normal cancer rate in the area. Thing was, the site was built in an area with high levels of radon gas emissions, to the point that if it was heavy, windless day the station's own radiation meters would start alerting due to ambient gas levels, rather than any leak from the site.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: It's not always the power station you have to worry about...

        "Some people in the area blamed the site for a slightly higher than normal cancer rate in the area"

        From what you said, they're probably right - about the site, but not necessarily the buildings on it. :) :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not always the power station you have to worry about...

          Good point, well made!

    5. ilmari

      Radiation sources

      It's odd how nobody complains about increased cancer levels near coal fired powerplants, when they emit more radiation than nuclear powerplants. :)

      The difference, I guess, is that everybody knows radiation is produced in large amounts in nuclear powerplants (and contained within), whereas fewer people are aware of the continous emission of low level radiation from coal powerplants. :)

  4. Mystic Megabyte
    Meh

    Proof of the of the pudding...

    If Professor Simon Chapman,had actually gone and lived next to a wind farm his conclusions would have more credibility.

    1. Richie 1

      Re: Proof of the of the pudding...

      > If Professor Simon Chapman,had actually gone and lived next to a wind farm his conclusions would have

      > more credibility.

      I think you may have missed the point of data analysis.

    2. Ru
      Facepalm

      Re: Proof of the of the pudding...

      "If you like it so much why don't you go live there"

      How old are you?

      In relation to the good professor's other work, would you only trust a study on the link between smoking and lung cancer by scientists who were on 60 a day and riddled with emphysema?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer, though they are generally all older than 85+ when they die.

    Would they have lived to 100 if there had been no power plant?"

    So not only is new nuclear the answer to the looming power shortages, it will also help curb the ageing population and cut pension costs? win win I think.

  6. Mr Spock

    This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

    Can't we just put Simon Chapman and Lewis Page in a pit of slime, and have them fight it out to the death. Winner gets to dictate energy policy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

      I would prefer that both sides get to say their piece with their own perspective. Oddly enough everyone has their own perspective and to think there is only one and they all match is ignorant of the world around us.

      I see plenty comments complaining about one view or another but how many are willing to accept we dont know? Everything was undiscovered by man at one point and the earth was definitely the centre of the universe at one point.

      I am not suggesting every crackpot is equal but when looking to reasoned views it is unreasonable to suggest only one view should be voiced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

        Interesting. I see downvotes so people obviously disagree with free speech but I dont see a single person state their reason. I guess its possible that people misunderstand freedom as supporting the view they dont agree with (This could be any view, back to individual perspectives).

        So I invite the voters to explain.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: dont see a single person state their reason

          because having recognized that you are beyond reason, for the most part, we see no need to waste further efforts. Key bit is here:

          "everyone has their own perspective and to think there is only one and they all match"

          I'll refer you to C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength and the crabby experimental scientist who gets whacked early in the book. His point was dead on, which is of course, why he got whacked.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Intelligence fail?

            Mr Spock wants Page/Chapman to fight to the death and the winner can dictate energy policy. I suggest they should both express their opinions which attracted downvotes. Looking at those who actually claimed to have a reason I laugh-

            Naughtyhorse: I didnt say they conflicted. But if my point is bollocks then why did you express their separate views? That suggests 2 perspectives even if they are not conflicting. So back to reading (and understanding) why should only one voice their opinions as spock suggests?

            Rampant Spaniel: "Letting nutters froth at the mouth about whatever" I see plenty god bothering people of various religions wander the streets in the city centre with their boards up shouting. I also see the same for political parties. I guess you somehow stop these people in your area? Do you shout at them to shut up until they produce evidence? And surely your comment is also- "It's just opinion and it's fecking worthless.". So why downvote?

            Tom 13: I am talking about accepting both Page/Chapman rights to express their views. And you think- "because having recognized that you are beyond reason". Yes. How dare I. I guess you live under some dictatorship somewhere and cherish the value of only being able to say something if it is acceptable to someone else (not the many, just the few, like Mr spock for example).

            At least you guys expressed why you feel I deserved a downvote. But if you guys are the least shamed by your reasons (3 of the 7 to express them) the other voters reasons must be doosies.

            1. Rampant Spaniel

              Re: Intelligence fail?

              @AC I didn't downvote and no I don't stop them. It's their right to rant. What I don't do is accept their comments as gospel, if people are convinced a windfarm gives them the clap then good for them, but as for actually taking action, lets see an actual study first. One not paid for by the energy industry or the fashionably lesbian tractor owners of chelsea and their three legged dog society of the furtherment of being outraged about slightly unpopular things because they haven't had much to do since resigning from the oxfam bookshop.

              Turn around what you said :-) When you see somebody wandering around town screaming the end of the world is coming on tuesday can I have 20p for the bus home, do you cash out your pension and blow it in hookers and nose candy or do you carry on. There may be something there with windfarms, there may not (I don't think so but I'm happy to see if there is, the ravers aren't ok with a study because they KNOW they are right!!), but we won't have an answer by asking people their opinion. Look at the LHC, science needs proof, opinion is just that. They built a huge expensive toy (and maybe blew it up) to prove a theory. They didn't go, oh well a few people agree so it must be right.

      2. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

        It's not about stopping people 'having their say', they always will. It's just opinion and it's fecking worthless.

        Let them all whine. Then find someone vaguely sane, have them identify the actual problem and then you carry out a study to find out if there is a link. This gives you a correlation (and only that, just because all your spearmints are ranked isn't proof), so then you devise a test to isolate a mechanism and do a double blind study to see if there really is a valid mechanism. Then you KNOW what is going on and not just what someone thinks is going on or what statistics say might be going on.

        Letting nutters froth at the mouth about whatever magical illness they caught off watching Jeremy Kyle isn't proof. A statistic proof just isn't outside of maths.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

      well i didnt downvote, but your point is bollocks :-)

      Lewis asserts windfarms are crap, because they don't make enough electricity when we need it. (and he has a point)

      Chapman is asserting that people who claim to be made ill by windfarms are full of shit. (and he has a point)

      there is no fundamental conflict! - ergo testes

      That said, the slime pit sounds good to me, but i am a smoker who believes in man made global warming, so make the slime good and toxic and let the battle commence is what i say :-)

  7. hammarbtyp

    Not a surprise

    I have always thought that windfarm 'sickness' was more psychosomatic than real. Partly because wind farms are not new things. They have been on the continent for years and no signs of vast numbers of Dutch, Danes and Germans coming down with it. So unless our European cousins have different ears than us, it seemed unlikely there is an issue there.

    However I have every sympathy for those who feel they are suffering. Such conditions can feel very real. I remember once living next to some noisy neighbours and even when they were not there your mind would magnify every imagined sound. However it does not make a good reason to stop the implementation of renewable energy policy.

    1. 100113.1537

      Re: Not a surprise

      No, but there are Danish windfarms being torn down because of complaints from local people. Did it make them sick or did they just get "sick" of the noise?

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    A more likely cause of these complaints

    Not in my back yard syndrome.

    Ask people what it's like to live next to a coal, oil or nuclear plant and I bet they have a worse experience in terms of traffic, horns, noise. And god help you if you live near an incinerator - trucks thundering past at all hours with foul smelling rubbish, mysterious plagues of flies etc.

    Wind turbines are pretty mild by comparison.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A more likely cause of these complaints

      > Ask people what it's like to live next to a coal, oil or nuclear plant and I bet they have a worse experience in terms of traffic, horns, noise.

      Unlikely. Coal and oil power plants don't get their fuel via the road network. It is usually supplied by other means. Coal is normally transported via rail and oil via a pipeline. The only traffic any of them normally get is the workers travelling to and from them to work.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: A more likely cause of these complaints

        Yes, so traffic. And trains / tankers blasting their horns and rumbling past. And general noise as they spin up / wind down, shift horns and anything else associated with running a site like that. You only have to look at a satellite overhead of any coal, oil or gas power station to realise their impact on people who live by, not to mention the local wildlife.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A more likely cause of these complaints

          Trains don't usually blast their horns. Oil fired power stations are supplied by pipeline so no tankers.

          Unless you are in the actual generating room you will never hear the turbines spin up/down.

          They don't have shift horns (does any place now?).

          I live about 500-600 yards from a 2GW coal fired power station and the only time you hear anything is when they are mowing the surrounding grass fields.

  9. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    I can think of a lot of much better reasons to pillory windfarms (or perhaps tilt at them... ;) ) such as their devastating effect on local bird populations - especially raptors and other large predatory birds. Or the way they mash bats. Then there's the problem of inefficiency, the fact that wind power is rarely around when you need it, has a very limited operating potential when the wind is blowing and requires equivalent conventional power generation as backup.

    They aren't a viable source of energy and they cause immediate environmental harm. Getting sidetracked on silly things like "wind farm sickness" rather misses the point.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: effect on birds

      "I can think of a lot of much better reasons to pillory windfarms such as their devastating effect on local bird populations - especially raptors and other large predatory birds. Or the way they mash bats."

      A few years ago Nature published a study of all US wind farms and bird mortality. The average result over the entire US was 0.5 bird deaths per turbine per year - vastly lower than the death toll caused by domestic cats or hunters. The reason why the "wind turbines slaughter birds" meme came about was because one of the earliest wind farms was placed in a pass in the Rockies that was the equivalent of the M25 for a species of endangered raptors, and they got sliced and diced in numbers high enough to affect the species' survival. That wind farm was shut down long ago, and current wind farms on migratory routes shut down as soon as radar sees large numbers of birds heading their way.

      The real problem is bats. The pressure fluctuations near a turbine can make their internal organs rupture. That's why they're trying using ultrasound to keep bats away.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: effect on birds

        It's worth bearing in mind also that most other forms of power generation are hardly eco friendly either, e.g. the large infrastructure network required to supply oil & coal generators, the potential for pollution, CO2 emissions, the potential for environmental disasters such as oil spills & radioactive leaks.

      2. SnowCrash
        Meh

        Re: effect on birds

        Also the EIS for a lot of windfarms failed to take into account how high bats will actually fly - sounds silly but until the windfarms were put up experts believed they tended to stay lower than 100m - turns out that they are active up to at least 250m.

        But there had never been a need to look at bat altitude until exploding bat syndrome was encountered.

      3. Charles Manning

        Re: effect on birds

        Slightly off topic.... here in NZ it has been found that cats are actually beneficial to birds. Seems odd, considering cats often kill birds.

        The rationale is that cats typically kill more rats than they do birds and rats are a far worse bird predator than cats are. So, all up, cats are beneficial to birds.

        Now the same argument **might** apply with wind turbines too. Perhaps burning coal has a worse effect on the birds than the equivalent wind farm does.

        These issues are very seldom straight forward.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

    Which is having exactly the effect I expected it to: Sales of cigarette cases are waaaaay up and you can now get 'em in a bewildering array of shapes, sizes and colours to fit a comprehensive range of sizes and numbers of fags.

    I've been after a sensibly sized case that holds twenty king size for many years. Thanks Simon!

    1. kissingthecarpet
      Meh

      Re: "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

      I recently gave up smoking after 35 years. The sight of my flatmate(a smoker of similar vintage) coughing up mouthfuls of bright red blood was a reality check too far.

      "cigarettes in the plain packages are less pleasant to consume" - obviously not properly addicted then. When I was on the dole I used to go out swooping. i.e. collecting dog-ends & re-rolling them out of desperation when I ran out of money. (Oh, its the life of Reilly on JSA, you know....)

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

        I did rather think that a slightly less pretty packet was unlikely to actually put off hardened smokers. Now if 1 in 100 fags exploded, that might work, but given everyone already knows theres a fair chance they will kill you, and in a slow and painful manner, I'm not sure that would work either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

          I dont understand the campaign against smoking. I understood not wanting non-smokers to be inflicted with others smoke, but surely its freedom to choose?

          It is funny when people say it will kill you, there is a 100% cause of death that nobody opposes- life. Everyone dies. All at different rates and some from age, stupidity or bad luck. Since the destination is always the same then why is personal freedom so wrong?

          People might die from smoking! Oh no. People will die because they are alive, that is a certainty. So surely people should be allowed to enjoy their lives their way?

          And no I am not a smoker. I dont like smokers smoke.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

            I can only speak from my own perspective but frankly I don't care if someone chooses to smoke as long as it isn't around me. However fag companies have quite a history of trying to convince people they're awesome for you when they knew they were dangerous and trying to attract kids with sponsorships etc. Of someone wats to smoke then fine, but I am against companies trying to hide \ gloss over etc the realities of smoking. I don't think they should be banned but I support measures that stop companies from trying to hide the dangers especially from kids. It isn't right to try and sell them as cool when the reality is most likely a slow painful death.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Now if 1 in 100 fags exploded

          I expect that would be highly dependent on the nature of the explosion. If it's the kind of explosion Elmer Fudd usually gets from his shotgun, not so much. If it's the kind of explosion Rutger Hauer got when he pulled the pin in Wanted Dead or Alive I expect it would rapidly impact the number of smokers.

          1. Rampant Spaniel
            FAIL

            Re: Now if 1 in 100 fags exploded

            Maybe it could vary between Elmer Fud level all they way up to warp core breach. That way theres a chance they may just be left with singed eyebrows and a warning.

            Smoking isn't actually a pleasant act, it's the chemicals in the fags that make it pleasant. I really fail to see how making the packet a little ugly will stop a hardened addict (not trying to be mean there, just a reality) getting their nico fix. Seriously, some people try patches, pills, hypnotherapy etc and it all fails until you want to give up, but changing the colour of the pack will work? Rubbish. Thats the kind of liberalesque retarded logic that wastes money. Think about supermarket own brands, the packaging is usually plain, I'm trying to remember, was it Qwiksave whose own brand stuff was in a black and white prison strip esque packet? Yet people still bought it based on price, they weren't put off by the packet.

            1. Steven Roper
              Coffee/keyboard

              ... all they way up to warp core breach.

              That made me laugh, well put!

              However, do you think you could tone the upper end of the scale back a bit? I don't want to be blown to my component subatomic particles because someone across the other side of town lit up one smoke too many.

              I'd suggest a scale running from Christmas cracker to Mills 36M would be sufficient!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Now if 1 in 100 fags exploded

              "I really fail to see how making the packet a little ugly will stop a hardened addict (not trying to be mean there, just a reality) getting their nico fix."

              It's not and it's not supposed to.

              Nobody cares about the hardened addicts, they're too far gone and hopefully they'll be dead soon so that 78% of the population doesn't have to pay taxes to look after them as they slowly die. What they're trying to do is stop people picking up the habit. This isn't some "6 months and it's finished" legislation, this is "in 25 years we will see a reduction in smoking-related cancer" legislation.

              1. Rampant Spaniel

                Re: Now if 1 in 100 fags exploded

                Fair enough, and the warnings on packets seem sensible but I really don't think that people start smoking because the packets are pretty. It just seems like a measure introduced by someone who wanted to either piss off the tobacco companies or just been seen to have achieved something. They already can't advertise, their packets carry pretty graphic warnings, tv is full of adverts of smokers about to die (all of which I'm ok with) but are less kids starting smoking? Are these things actually working?

                I remember my friends smoked because you weren't allowed to (not that I would advocate allowing kids to smoke but its an interesting concept), because it was 'cool' and because their parents did. Mainly, the reality was some of them had little else to do and had crap parents. It's a tough one, I'm not even sure governments want to as smokers are a good revenue source for them, but they do want to be seen to do something. You can't price them out of use as folks will just grow their own or vote you out. I guess you just educate people, let them make their own choice and help them when they want to quit. Honestly I'd rather see fag companies subsidise patches etc then redo a packet design.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

        I spent some time with my friend in his last hours....

        The emphsyemia had eaten through his lungs and he was inhaling into his abdominal cavity....

        Infection started and he was dead in a few days.....

        Nasty, Nasty, Nasty - way to be sick.....

    2. Magani
      Holmes

      Re: "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

      "...use only a drab olive colour said to be maximally unattractive to shoppers."

      Unless of course you're in the army.

      1. Naughtyhorse
        Coat

        Re: "..the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets..."

        Or

        is it because they are unattractive, or camouflaged?

        mines the one with a research grant application in the pocket

  11. Wade Burchette

    Reminds me of a story I read

    I read this some time ago, and thus I lost the link, but I read a story about people in an upscale neighborhood complaining about headaches ever since a new cell tower was put up. When the local news investigated, it turns out the tower wasn't even on.

    There is a reason why optimists are healthier.

  12. molton

    Nocebo effect huh? That makes a lot of sence to me because when I went to sleep last night I heard a leaking noise in the wall of my crappy apartment, but didn't think much of it. My girlfriend had to get up earlier than me for work and I woke up with her and she informed me "that damn noise kept me up all night" after that, I could not avoid being too distracted by that sound to go to sleep, I had the nocebo effect.

    If its renewable and leads to a sustainable future, it doesn't make the rich richer, and we can'r have that.

  13. Nick Galloway
    Flame

    All winds created equal...?

    We have to assume that all wind turbines operate at the same levels of rotation, emit the same frequency and volume of sound and that all the people in the affected area have the same degree of senstivity to infrasonic emissions. I seem to recall a farmer who had a lucrative arrangement with the power company who had to move out with his family and despite the financial loss, terminated the contract due to the health impact.

    As has been noted, wind farms are demonstrably not the solution to reliable power. They are also not as carbon neutral thrtoughout their full lifecycle as atomic power. Let's look at Thorium fuelled nuclear power and stop the conversation.

    I also have concern with the comment that there is no study that provides evidence of the claimed complaints being a physical manifestation. One could say the same about the demonstrable evidence to substantiate anthropogenic climate change. The IPCC have had billions of dollars and twenty years to get a result on that one, how much has been allocated (time & money) to the wind farm phenomenon???

  14. MacGyver
    Devil

    And the birds..

    Honestly I think a few hypochondriacs with a psychosomatic illness and the death of some stupid birds is a small price to pay for not killing us all slowly with the smog from coal plants. I would think that if anything, that an oscillating wind sound would be calming, not to mention that it would never be the exact same sound (the wind blows at different speeds from hour to hour does it not?). As far as the birds go, I guess any that survive will be the ones that were smart enough not to fly into large spinning Ginsu knives in the sky. That's pretty much the definition of natural selection.

  15. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Noise complaints

    Im at least one case I can think of, the noise being complained about wasn't caused by blades, but by the wind whistling as it passed through open tower structures. Aeolian harps are generally more tuneful than engineering lattice.

    For the most part(*) windfarms are a WOFTAM(**), but at least they keep nimbys busy complaining about something other than the neighbour's loft extension.

    (*) There are some areas in the world where winds are strong, reliable and not prone to gusts/rapid anglechanges..These are good contenders for farms. Putting them elsewhere is a solution in search of the wrong problem.

    (**) Waste of fucking time and money

  16. The Grump
    Big Brother

    Just another libtard

    SUVs - bad

    Cigs - bad

    Big gulps - bad

    Incandescent bulbs - bad

    Big Macs - bad

    OTOH

    Gun bans (call 911 and die) - good

    Gay marriage - good

    Iron fist control of free speech - good

    More, more, more, more taxes - good

    and now vibrating windmills - good

    Libtards don't need scientific study - like obscenity, they know "good" when they see it. Libtards are smarter, wiser, and (lets face it) better looking than you - just ask one ! Just obey them.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Just another libtard

      Just like all the right wing nutjobs who don't need a study to tell you gun free zones attract shootings. Like Fort Hood and Quantico Marine Base, both well known gun free zones.

      Two can play that game.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Like Fort Hood and Quantico Marine Base

        Actually under current ROEs Fort Hood and Quantico pretty much are gun free zones except for MPs and live fire training areas. And just like schools are only minutes away when seconds count.

  17. caradoc

    Junk science is as Junk science does.

    The real argument should be about why we are allowing agenda scientists to run our lives and dictate policy.

    To denigrate those who protest is the lowest form of advocacy. This man is making a living out of junk science in his anti-smoking activities. For anyone actually interested in finding out facts for themselves, the second-hand smoke issue was built on dodgy science and even dodgier statistics. I don't smoke, I don't work for a tobacco company, I just believe that public policy should be based on sound evidence.

    I can't comment on windfarm noise, but I do believe there is no rationale for windfarms, they destroy local environments, they survive only on heavy subsidies and do not ever provide anywhere near the claimed "electricity for xyz number of homes" in the statements by developers. They only exist because of the increasingly failing claims for man-made global warming from fossil fuel energy use.

  18. Steve Crook

    Just like frakking...

    Seems to me that you could apply these arguments to almost anything new being done where there was an organised group campaigning against it.I suppose it's a bit like a reverse placebo effect... Probably file under more research needed.

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