Have you read an article or comment thread online that contains anti-wind myths and disinformation but didn’t have the resources at your fingertips to counter the spin? This post is intended to let you create factual, solid, referenced comments debunking disinformation in five minutes or less in the areas of Health, Environment and Smart Grid.
- Wind farms don’t harm human health, anti-wind campaigners do. 19 reviews world wide of all of the available research and complaints by credible, independent groups have cleared wind farms of health impacts. Meanwhile, studies in the UK, Australia and New Zealand point the finger at anti-wind lobbyists spreading health fears and jacking up stress. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/17/wind-farms-dont-make-people-sick-so-why-the-complaints/
- Infrasound produced by wind farms is harmless; humans evolved with infrasound and wind farms produce less than waves on a beach, yet beach front property is in major demand. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/20/humans-evolved-with-infrasound-is-there-any-truth-to-health-concerns-about-it/
- Courts consistently reject cases which attempt to prove wind farms cause health problems because the evidence is very poor. http://barnardonwind.com/2014/02/23/wind-energy-health-concerns-fail-the-test-of-law-repeatedly/
- Symptoms reported by those complaining of impacts from wind turbines are very common. An assessment of WindVOICE, an Ontario health impact survey web-hosted by anti-wind groups, shows that the symptoms as reported in the survey are within the percentage range of the symptoms in the general populace. http://barnardonwind.com/2014/07/28/a-re-evaluation-of-the-wind-concerns-ontario-health-survey/
- All of the statistical and medical evidence is on the side of people who know that wind energy is clean and safe, but what do people living with wind turbines around them say? Watch these videos from around the world of people living in and near wind farms to find out. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/12/09/in-their-own-words-people-living-among-and-near-wind-farms-on-video/
- Wind farms are the best source of utility-scale energy for wildlife including birds: global warming and air pollution are the big threats. Studies tell us that wind farms in the USA kill about one in 86,000 birds annually. Cats and lit windows on the other hand kill up to one in ten. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/15/how-significant-is-bird-and-bat-mortality-due-to-wind-turbines/
- Wind farms reduce greenhouse gases; real world results in Texas, the UK and Australia prove this is true. Industry standard, full lifecycle analyses for all forms of energy find that wind turbines pay back their carbon debt faster than any other form of generation. Every MWh produced by wind energy eliminates 99.8%+ of the CO2 that would have been generated by shale gas or coal, as they are first to be eliminated from the grid as generation sources. As the full lifecycle analyses show shale gas has 50 times the CO2e and coal has 100 times the CO2e per MWh, that’s a lot of global warming gases that are eliminated with every MWh of wind energy. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/05/wind-energy-reduces-green-house-gas-emissions/
- Wind farms aren’t ugly: coal plants, coal mines, diseased lungs and smog are ugly. http://daryanenergyblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/wind_farm_cartoons2.png
- Wind farms sit lightly on the land, taking up 1-2% of total area with turbines and leaving the rest available for all the uses it traditionally has, including skiing, hunting, hiking and just sitting there growing trees and looking beautiful.
- Wind farms don’t harm property values: nine major studies in the US and UK of well over a quarter million property transactions confirm this. As with health complaints, anti-wind campaigners whipping up fears are responsible for minor lulls before wind farms become operational, with properties often accruing value faster near operational wind farms. This makes sense: more jobs and more tax-revenue funded services make wind farm regions more attractive to people. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/19/property-values-evidence-is-that-if-wind-farms-do-impact-them-its-positively/
- Wind energy is now cheaper than any form of new generation except shale gas according the International Energy Agency, Bloomberg Financial and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/18/how-effective-are-wind-turbines-compared-to-other-sources-of-energy/
- Governmental support for renewables is minor compared to fossil fuel subsidies, health impacts and the cost of global warming; remember Hurricane Sandy drowning New York City. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/10/governmental-incentives-for-renewables-are-necessary-and-provide-great-value-for-money/
- Wind farms don’t require any more backup than coal or nuclear plants do until they are supplying a very large percentage energy, and when wind energy drops, it’s predictable and minor, unlike major transmission or generation failures. No new backup generation needs to be built; it already exists and wind energy is displacing it. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/24/how-much-backup-does-a-wind-farm-require-how-does-that-compare-to-conventional-generation/
- Wind farms are cost effective and predictable sources of power despite variable winds; that’s why there are 320,000 world wide providing clean, safe, dependable electricity today. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/15/the-wind-doesnt-blow-all-the-time-doesnt-this-make-wind-power-ineffective/
- An Ontario wind energy tribunal’s published judgment rejects both health scares and the health scarers Laurie and McMurtry. Two major contributors to wind energy health scares, Sarah Laurie of Australia and Dr. Robert McMurtry of Canada, attempted to testify in an Ontario appeal Tribunal related to a proposed wind farm. The judgment was published December 23, 2013. Ms. Laurie was rejected entirely as a witness, and her lack of authority to refer to herself as Doctor was entered into evidence. Dr. McMurtry’s testimony and case definition were rejected entirely as being without merit. At the same time, environmental and human rights arguments were considered completely without merit as well. Read more here: http://barnardonwind.com/2014/01/08/ontario-tribunal-dismisses-health-scares-and-health-scarers/
- How reliable are individual wind and health studies as evidence? Assessing five factors — quality of publication, hierarchy of evidence, full declaration of any biases, inclusions and exclusions of references and methodology and structure of the evidence — can assist in rapidly getting a sense of how much weight to put on individual wind and health pieces of evidence. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/06/27/how-should-you-assess-the-quality-of-a-wind-health-study/
- Analysis of the 50 most commonly cited studies, reviews and governmental reports used by both sides finds that the literature used by anti-wind campaigners to claim health impacts is much, much less reliable than the evidence showing no health impacts outside of limited noise annoyance to some. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/08/06/health-studies-reliability/
- Amplitude Modulation impacts a vanishingly small number of people a tiny percentage of the time. It occurs on perhaps 3% of wind farms, it occurs only occasionally, it usually only occurs for brief periods of time, is mostly only audible to people downwind of the wind turbines and studies show that most people don’t find it annoying. Now there’s a problem worth spending millions to fix. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/12/17/amplitude-modulation-another-anti-wind-myth-goes-thump/
- Pierpoint’s wind turbine syndrome is more wind than syndrome. Completely lacking in methodology, self-selected study group that blamed wind turbines for their ailments, no medical history, no peer review, self-published by the vanity press she set up for the purpose and so intent on leading the witnesses that it fell of a cliff. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/28/wind-turbine-syndrome-is-more-wind-than-syndrome/
- Sarah Laurie and the Waubra Foundation aren’t credible sources of information but an Orwellian Newspeak front for NIMBYism and fossil fuel. They are consistently unethical in their operations, constantly misrepresent themselves, others and published reports and are at the forefront of causing the problems they claim to be worried about. Here are the seven key things you need to know if they show up near you: http://barnardonwind.com/2013/04/15/seven-things-you-must-know-about-the-waubra-foundation-and-sarah-laurie/
- Wind turbine setbacks of 350-400 meters are completely safe in all but the tiniest fraction of cases. The World Health Organization sets 50 dB of regular and prolonged night time noise that cannot be mitigated via closed windows and white noise generators as the level at which sleep loss becomes a concern. 40 dB, the level that Ontario’s Regulation 359/09 regulations make the norm 99% of the time for 99% of properties, is a good cautionary level. 35 dB, the level set in a couple of Australian states, is even more conservative.
- When anti-wind campaigners try to testify under oath related to wind energy and health, even under the kindest of examination only from the lawyer on their side, the results are a grisly train wreck. It’s hard to look away. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/bad-day-in-court-for-anti-wind-campaigner-sarah-laurie
- The suggestion that wind turbine related-infrasound causes motion sickness is a wild leap in two directions. It extrapolates from motion sickness induced by flight simulators which violently shake and roll a person while simultaneously giving them visual inputs that only coarsely relate to movements. It assumes that there is a physiological response mechanism where 22 reviews have concluded no direct physiological impact and when the evidence with setbacks of 350+ meters points to psychological reasons for symptoms. As the hypothesis of a single acoustician presented at a conference, it shouldn’t be considered even likely, never mind entertained as probable. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/09/23/from-flight-simulator-induced-nausea-to-infrasound-a-remarkable-leap/
- Sarah Laurie and other anti-wind activists with past and present medical credentials are ethics-challenged. Ms. Laurie is under investigation in Australia for performing medical research without ethics oversight, while in Ontario a dentist who has refused service to the leadership council of a native tribe erecting a wind farm is being investigated. This is in line with the ongoing violations of the basic tenet of medical ethics: “First do no harm.” http://barnardonwind.com/2013/04/24/medical-ethics-violations-by-anti-wind-lobbyists-such-as-sarah-laurie-receiving-attention/
- The Nissenbaum / Aramini / Hanning study published in Noise and Health is unreliable. The data actually shows that everyone in the study group sleeps poorly, not just the ones close to wind farms. Their data is too scattered to support a correlation between wind turbine placement and sleep. Five of the six authors and thanked reviewers are Advisory Board members of the anti-wind lobbyist group, the Society for Wind Vigilance, but their long histories of anti-wind activism are unstated. One of the authors, Nissenbaum, was active in the wind farms studied previously doing poorly structured studies that would have increased fear and stress. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/25/a-study-in-noise-and-health-shows-that-wind-farms-cause-people-to-lose-sleep-how-reliable-is-this-study/
- Vibro-acoustic disease is at best a mistake by an incompetent and at worst a workers’ compensation ploy. Norwegian studies focussed on it using helicopter crews and passengers as study and control groups found no evidence of acute or chronic changes. One also pointed out that the key physical evidence Castelo-Branco found — thickening of the pericardium — was misinterpreted as he thought the pericardium was normally 3-4 times thinner than it actually is. An Australian assessment found that 74% of all citations to VAD papers were from the VAD papers themselves, instead of the more usual 7%. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/10/04/vad-venal-arrogant-distortion/
- The Commentary “Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines” in Canadian Family Physician is a deeply misleading article by long time anti-wind activists with irrelevant credentials — retired pharmacist, chartered management accountant, general practitioner — that may lead unwary medical practitioners to inappropriately attribute symptoms to wind turbines and possibly exacerbate pre-existing conditions. It ignores the vast majority of evidence and opinions of medical professionals in assessments world wide that wind turbines do not cause health impacts. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/05/22/when-medical-practitioners-mislead-trio-targets-family-doctors-with-bad-information/
- The Wind Rush documentary was set up as a hatchet job on wind energy. There is no credible way that this degree of slant, distortion and inaccuracy could result without intentional effort. There is no way that this assemblage of known anti-wind voices came together on film without guidance and assistance of anti-wind groups, and there is no way that the enormous evidence to the contrary and the enormous number of experts who could counter this biased piece were ignored without deliberate exclusion. http://barnardonwind.com/2014/01/11/wind-rush-documentary/
- Wind farms are harmless to groundwater and aquifers, and much better than continued mining, shipping and burning of fossil fuels. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/05/wind-farms-good-for-ground-water-too/
- Firefighters agree that wind farms reduce fire impacts by grounding lightning on ridge lines and providing pre-built firebreaks and access roads for firefighters. The handful of wind turbines that catch fire, however photographically interesting, are statistically irrelevant compare to the roughly 240,000 wind turbines operating day and night, year after year. Wind turbines causing fires is even more statistically insignificant. If you want the causes of fires, it’s smoking, brush burning, kids and arsonists. Wind farms don’t register. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/01/wind-farms-causing-fires-all-smoke-no-flame/
- Whooping cranes and wind farms co-exist peacefully. Joint efforts by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, whooping crane preservation organizations, electrical utilities and the wind industry have resulted in numerous extraordinary mitigations to ensure no whooping crane is harmed by wind turbines despite the proliferation of wind farms along their migration corridor. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/21/wind-farms-are-being-built-along-whooping-crane-migration-paths-is-there-any-risk-to-them/
- Wind farms usually get repowered at end of life for another 20+ years of productive output. The ones that don’t often end up paying for the decommissioning in scrap and used turbine parts. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/06/wind-farm-end-of-life-repowering-or-benign-decommissioning/
- Wind farms pay back total environmental debt in under six months according to industry standard full lifecycle analyses. Other forms of generation; not so much or never. Fossil fuel is particularly odious, but no utility scale form of generation is as benign as wind energy cradle-to-grave. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/09/wind-turbines-pay-back-total-environmental-debt-in-under-six-months/
- Wind turbines produce vastly more energy than they consume. De-icing is just starting to penetrate the market, air-conditioning doesn’t exist and published and reviewed lifecycle cost analyses (LCA) following ISO methodologies suggest that electrical consumption by wind towers is insignificant, so the ratio is extremely high. The Hepburn wind farm in Australia produces 302 times the energy annually that it consumes. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/02/parasitic-power-and-wind-turbines-sounds-scary-but-whats-the-real-story/
- Wind farms are put closer rather than further from rural communities because a variety of factors make that more economically viable. The health of people in those communities is not put at risk. http://barnardonwind.com/2014/07/03/why-are-wind-turbines-put-so-close-to-people/
- Google’s Makani airborne wind generator will not generate as much electricity as conventional wind farms of similar scale. They have much more severe siting restrictions that limit them to remote, unpopulated areas with few roads or power lines that are not being used for agriculture or other economically valuable uses and have low avian populations. It’s likely that they will not operate in winter conditions. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/10/30/googles-makani-airborne-wind-generator-flies-a-bit-lower-when-you-look-at-it-closely/
- Abandoned wind turbines? Old ones keep being replaced with newer, better ones at end of life. 14,000 abandoned wind turbines worldwide, or in USA or in California alone is just an anti-wind myth. At most there might be a couple of thousand awaiting repowering. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/03/anti-wind-lobbyists-claim-more-than-1-in-20-wind-turbines-permanently-inactive-theyre-wrong-as-usual/
- New “innovations” in wind power usually aren’t. The most effective form factor for harvesting energy from the wind is the three-blade, horizontal axis wind turbine. Alternatives have all failed to be economically viable, that’s why there are 200,000+ tall, graceful wind turbines around the world today instead of other technologies. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/22/what-is-the-most-efficient-design-for-a-wind-generator/
- If someone offers to let you invest in their new wind energy technology, be aware and wary. Many wind “innovations” are long disproven technologies with a bit of lipstick and some mood lighting. Others are completely unproven. Others don’t even exist. Here are thirteen questions you should ask about any new wind generator: http://barnardonwind.com/2013/05/08/invest-carefully-wind-energy-innovations-are-rarely-kosher/
- Nuclear isn’t a viable technology despite its statistically good safety record and low CO2 emissions. There’s no social license, it’s terrorist gold, financing is extraordinarily difficult, skilled and educated labour for nuclear is an enormous problem and that’s just a few of the problems. Wind energy is being built much, much faster than nuclear and that will continue to occur. http://barnardonwind.com/2013/06/16/why-wind-energy-is-the-pragmatic-choice-and-nuclear-isnt/
Correcting disinformation with coherent, brief and referenced comments can be a very productive way to spend a little time each day to assist in the ongoing PR war in support of wind energy. Most media outlets have comments enabled on their online articles, and most blogs do as well. Those comments sections get read, and often get read a lot.
Here are a few suggested guidelines for being most effective:
- Make your audience the people who are silently reading. The ratio typically used for online discussion areas is 1:10:100. That is to say, one person posts something original starting a discussion, 10 people comment and 100 people read the back-and-forth.
- Stick to the facts, not the people. Make your comments additional information, not attacks on other commenters. Let them take the low road (and many of them will). The quiet reader will read your facts and their attacks and generally will make a judgment in favour of facts.
- Don’t argue too much. Many people on comment boards seem to view it as their primary social outlet. Don’t feed their need for attention. You won’t convince them, so don’t waste your time trying. Post your information for the quiet readers and move on. Only engage if a question or point of clarification is raised which enables you to make another solid insertion of information.
Four Steps to Countering Anti-Wind Disinformation
Step 1: Make sure you can comment comfortably. Some comments sections allow you to submit with any user name of your choice and your email address which is kept anonymously. Others require you to register with the outlet. Many or even most now allow signing up with Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts, making it pretty easy to get in and tie your comments to the rest of your social media presence. Figure out how public you are willing to be. Consider setting up social media accounts just for this if you want to isolate it from the rest of your online presence.
Step 2. Identify the myths being spread. Read the article and the comments so that you rebut the right myths.
Step 3. Create your comment from the boilerplate in this post. Copy whichever snippets pertain to the myths you’ve spotted into your comment. The snippets contain accurate and brief summaries of the reality plus a link to — mostly — this blog with full and detailed information. You may choose to grab one of the major links in the blog posts instead as your evidentiary link or something else entirely. What you write is your choice based on what you are trying to communicate and who you think the audience is. The snippets are organized into three sections for your convenience:
Note that a subset of comment sections don’t allow links at all, presuming that they are usually marketing spam. Ditch the links and rely on the text in that case. Watch for character or word limits as well and edit accordingly.
Step 4: Share and bookmark this post. Help your friends and acquaintances make a difference too. The more people there are telling the truth online, the lower the impact of the disinformation.