Courts worldwide reject anti-wind experts and their evidence

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The EPI just published a full report of my research into anti-wind court cases in the USA, Canada, the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand.

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Since 1998 there have been 49 court cases in five countries that tested the evidence for and against wind farm health impacts. All but one agreed that wind farms don’t make people sick. The Energy and Policy Institute just published a full report of my research into these court cases in the USA, Canada, the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand.

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Wind farms are the most benign form of electrical generation that we’ve discovered to date, but they do change the views of rural areas where people live. They do make a little noise. Some people in rural areas believe that they get in the way of other uses for the areas, such as tourism, golf courses or skydiving clubs. Others think, incorrectly, that they are economic disasters. Some people think they are bad for birds. There is short-sighted and parochial opposition to them.

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Photo: Tim Morandini

Since 2009, that opposition has had a focus in many English-speaking countries, the belief that wind farms make people sick. 80% of the court cases related to health have occurred since then. So why 2009? It’s the year that Dr. Nina Pierpont, a paediatrician and anti-wind activist, self-published her deeply flawed 294-page report on 23 phone interviews with self-selected people who blamed wind farms for their health problems and invented the term “wind turbine syndrome”. Based on this incredibly weak and biased evidence and a poor understand of how the human body works, Dr. Pierpont hypothesized that infrasound disturbs the inner ear. Likely more than any other individual, Dr. Pierpont is responsible for the minor health hysteria related to wind farms.

Professor Simon Chapman and his team at the University of Sydney have done the most rigorous study of the impacts of the psychogenic illness related to wind farms. They assessed all recorded health complaints for all wind farms in all of Australia between 1993 and 2012. They found that 73% of all health complaints were from six wind farms targeted by anti-wind organizations and that 90% of complaints occurred since 2009. 64.7% of wind farms had no recorded complaints at all. It’s clear from his work that anti-wind groups spreading health fears create health complaints. And it’s clear that where anti-wind groups haven’t been busy, health complaints don’t exist.

Court cases follow anti-wind protestors, just as health complaints do. The one case in Alberta, Canada, occurred after Carmen Krogh, a retired pharmacists and anti-wind campaigner from Ontario, traveled to Alberta to speak to a small group of people worried about a proposed wind farm. She created so much fear that they brought a case against the wind farm on health grounds, bringing many witnesses and reams of documented evidence to bear. And lost. That doesn’t mean that these people aren’t suffering from the health fears created by Ms. Krogh; those impacts are likely still being felt via the nocebo effect.

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Fiona Crichton and her team of the University of Auckland have done the most robust testing of the nocebo effect related to infrasound health fears and wind farms. They took a group of subjects and divided them into control and study groups. They further split both groups and showed half of them anti-wind videos claiming infrasound would make them sick and the other half neutral videos. They then exposed the groups to both real infrasound and sham infrasound, while telling all groups that they were being exposed to real infrasound. The results were clear: telling people that they would suffer symptoms from exposure to infrasound made them suffer increased numbers and severity of symptoms, whether they were exposed to infrasound or not. And people who weren’t told that infrasound would make them sick experienced no additional symptoms when exposed to infrasound. Further research showed that if left unchecked, those who had received the expectation of getting sick would just get sicker and sicker.

The witnesses in that lone Alberta case were typical of the quality of experts brought around the world. They included Australian Sarah Laurie, a de-registered general practitioner who is no longer allowed to use the courtesy title of doctor as a result of ethics charges brought against her related to her unlicensed medical research and diagnoses of wind farm related illnesses. Dr. Carl V. Phillips was present as well. He’s better known for his long-standing habit of taking research money from tobacco companies and finding that tobacco products just weren’t that bad. He left the University of Alberta under murky circumstances related to his tobacco industry-funded research and formed his own personal research institute as well as becoming a paid witness against wind farms.

While Sarah Laurie has had bad days in court around the world, there are several other antipodeans who have also been dismissed. Dr. Colin Hansen, Professor Emeritus of mechanical engineering, testified in the Hallet ERD and was shown to be lacking in expertise regarding his testimony. Dr. Daniel Shepherd of New Zealand, like Sarah Laurie, has had his ‘evidence’ rejected both north and south of the equator. Les Huson, an engineer and acoustician, seems to think that existing standards for modeling sound are inadequate, but it’s been shown in court three times that it is his understanding of the standards that is inadequate.

In all, the legal cases showed that sixteen different individuals from around the world have declared themselves as experts on wind farm negative impacts and been summarily dismissed or had their evidence dismissed outright.

So what about the outlier? It’s a case from 2013 from Falmouth Massachusetts. In 2010, Falmouth erected two wind turbines on its municipal waste water treatment plant beside a divided highway. The turbines are a bit noisier than usual and the closest homes are a bit closer than average, so they are more audible more of the time than other wind farms. The evidence shows that they are likely within World Health Organization guidelines for environmental noise. Because of complaints about noise, Falmouth had already shut down the turbines every night for eight hours.

This wasn’t good enough for Neil and Elizabeth Andersen, who sued to have them shut down permanently or at least more of the time. They submitted health records showing that their health had deteriorated since 2010, which the judge accepted. What the judge doesn’t appear to have seen was any evidence related to health except the medical records; the decision shows no expert witnesses called at all. And he likely didn’t know that Neil Andersen was interviewed at length by Dr. Nina Pierpont in 2011, undoubtedly creating expectations of illness as she has done time and again. Despite the weakness of the evidence, the judge required the turbines to be shut down for 12 hours daily.

When Dr. Pierpont attempts to appear in court as an expert witness, she is rejected outright along with her 294-page vanity press book, as happened in a tribunal related to the Adelaide wind farm in Ontario.

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The distribution of cases isn’t only skewed chronologically, but also geographically. As mentioned, wind turbine syndrome is an ailment caught almost entirely by people who read English. But within the English-speaking world two areas stand out, Ontario and New Zealand. Ontario has by far the most health-related legal challenges with 14 to date. However, as a country, New Zealand has the highest ratio of health-related court cases to population and to the capacity of wind generation in operation. Meanwhile, the United States has by far the lowest ratio of court cases related to wind energy and health for both population and capacity.

The lessons for those considering implementing wind farms are clear. If health claims are brought forward in legal settings, the suits will fail. They are vexatious lawsuits, and courts have been awarding costs to wind farm developers recently.

And the lesson for those opposed to wind farms is clear as well: claims that wind farms make people sick don’t stand up in court.

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36 Comments
  1. Brendon 5 years ago

    While I agree with the theme, the last table/discussion point is counter-productive. Basing statistics on national populations rather than those living within the immediate area impacted by wind turbines is an irrelevance that doesn’t help sell the argument. The nocebo trial graphs are confusing to those not familiar with this type of presentation, and the first graph is about…. what?
    If we are to succeed in getting the message across, particularly to those who do not share out views, then we need to lift our game.

    • Mary 5 years ago

      nocebo is speculative and highly susceptible to flawed interpretation and manipulation via sentence structuring in questions relative to the topic. How about an article based on actual, verifiable science like that which is being done by Dr. Alec Salt? Either the low frequency noise and physiological effects can be measured or not. Unless, of course, Dr. Salt uses extremely intelligent chinchilla’s who are so convinced that they WILL suffer rupture of the tympanic membrane that they are able to manifest physical symptoms and cause their eardrums to burst out of fear. Let’s try that instead of this garbage masquerading as “science”.

  2. ac baird 5 years ago

    NOTHING will change an irrational mind determined to find what they KNOW they will find. Scientists avoid this but their opponents embrace the self-fulfilling prophesy with ardour. The motto: “Expect the expected”. ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ is a good example of the same pitch, a confidence-trick-type narrative. With the advantage of history it’s now clear why the people of 17th-19th century Netherlands developed the same mental/medical problems (because of the windmill noise) and became curious seafarers to get away. Hence the name “Tasmania”, a description of the syndrome, not the place. Does this clarify matters?
    PS I live near windmills and they have no effect on MY reasoning at ALL

    • Mary 5 years ago

      Do you actually believe the windmills at Kinderdijk resemble the industrial power plants (i.e. wind turbines) being constructed today? Really? Utter nonsense.

      • ac baird 5 years ago

        S*lly n*nny. The above was a clear send up but irrational folk who want to be upset by wind turbines will always get upset by some one taking the micky out of their fantastic ideas . Jesus Christ the anti-wind lobby is SO serious it doesn’t know when to get off its high horse. Dutchmen wanting to get away because of the noise of windmills! Abel Tasman going mad and travelling to Van Dieman’s Land and his mental illness being called “Tas-mania”! Of course! Why didn’t I see the problem in this scenario? The above is a spin off from a Monty Python sketch where English generals in WW2 planned to use bombers dump snow on the Germans on the coast of France, who, thinking they were too far north, would march into the sea and the British navy would run them over! And as you would say, and utterly stupid and outrageous thing to posit, completely beyond the realms of possibility! It was a joke, Joyce. Geddit?

    • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

      I guess the Jews felt like there plight was serious too. oh wait they should have told jokes about it . rural residents all over the world are suffering because of turbines and you want to talk about monte python, what a moron!

      what I think I should tell jokes about is the level of your IQ….it must be room temperature?

      • Alan Baird 5 years ago

        I win! Don’t you realise that the argument is automatically lost when the two terms “Jews” and “World War 2” are used in conjunction with each other. Error! Tilt! Game over! EVERYONE KNOWS THAT. It’s an internationally recognised acknowledged form of knocking over the king. But of course you’ve got Alan Jones on your side and scientists against you and you trust Alan don’t you? He knows and they don’t.
        PS Their, not thier amongst other rantings… no further correspondence as it only encourages the twits….

        • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

          So, what are your your thoughts about human beings who cannot SLEEP in their own homes?

          Certainly you want to avoid this discussion also?

          Who is the real twit now?

          • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

            Hmmm….. You want to have no discussion around the real people who are suffering b/c of turbines. Especially those who have never heard about Dr. Pierpont until after they develop a classic case of wind turbine syndrome?

    • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

      I beg to differ that they have had no effect on your reasoning!

  3. George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

    Actually there are at least two court cases on international scale agreeing that wind turbines were causing health problems. Here is the second one: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/portugese-supreme-court-orders-four-wind-turbines-removed/portuguese-supreme-court-orders-4-wind-turbines-removed/

    I wonder why Barnard decided to limit his study to English speaking countries?

    I also why Barnard keeps incorrectly referring to Sarah Laurie as “deregistered”? Can’t he get his fact correct?

    • Mary 5 years ago

      I stopped looking when I saw who authored the article. Mike Barnard has no credibility with those who see wind turbines as a viable form of electrical production with limited application for a variety of reasons, including the fact that low frequency noise does cause harm to people and animals.

    • Mary 5 years ago

      He uses these terms to discredit her. It seems desperate.

  4. George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

    And one more fresh bit of evidence that could be used in the court room: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/hansen-zajamsek-hansen-noise-monitoring-waterloo-wind-farm/

    It would be interesting to see if a professor’s opinion is expert enough for Barnard’s next report.

    • Mike Barnard 5 years ago

      You didn’t notice that Hansen has been rejected as a witness in court cases and that is documented in the report? Odd how you can’t be bothered to read what you are trying to refute. One might think you were uninterested in gaining knowledge and were merely trying to find straws to grasp at.

      • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

        Wow Mike, you must live in a naive world. Have’nt you ever heard of court cases where expert testimony was thrown by the court room because it wasn’t sufficient to move the court to make a judgement? You do realise that court rooms aren’t clinical or scientific arenas – they are their to presume innocence until proven beyond doubt.

        Meanwhile any comments about the cases where the court room did rule that wind turbines were causing health problems?

        • Mary 5 years ago

          “One might think you were uninterested in gaining knowledge….” Hahahahahaha! From Mike Barnard?! Hahahahahahaha!

        • Andrew 5 years ago

          ‘Beyond doubt’ is the standard for criminal courts but ‘balance of probabilities’ is usually the case for environmental courts.

          If the ‘experts’ can’t even make their case on balance of probability then there must be some serious doubts about what they are presenting.

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            Andrew, hope this helps dispel Barnard’s “facts”:

            From: Erikson v Ministry Of the Environment & Suncor

            Environment Review Tribunal, Ontario 18th July, 2011
            “This case has successfully shown that the debate should not
            be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to
            humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they
            can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree”

            http://waubrafoundation.org.au/information/lawyers/legal-cases/

      • Kevon Martis 5 years ago

        I would respond but now that you are a Senior Fellow at an extreme left wing boiler room staffed by former staffers of other extreme left wing boiler room opertaions I would certainly lose the debate. Did you get a nice slice of the Tom Steyer fossil-funded fortune, Mr. Senior Fellow?

        It was interesting reading your report though I confess it read as parody.

      • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

        Mike, do you have a heart do you have a conscience have you ever listened, really listened, really cared for someone who can NOT sleep through the night because turbines are
        God
        save our planet. God save our planet from heartless greedy jerks!!

        And I wonder how you can sleep at night, knowing you are trying to suppress the voices of thousands of people around the world who are suffering?

      • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

        Mike do you have a heart do you have a conscience have you ever really listened and really showed compassion and understanding to a person who is not been able to sleep in their own home because of wind turbines?

        God save our planet , God save our planet from heartless greedy jerks!!

        And Mike how can you sleep at night knowing that you are trying to suppress the voices of thousands around the world who are suffering?

        Re-examine your heart even Hitler believe in what he was doing!

        “Well, we cannot prove the Jews really suffered, I mean, there’s no peer reviewed study on it!”

        A heartless evil man is what you are!

        • A Real Libertarian 5 years ago

          Mike re-examine your heart even Hitler believed in what he was doing!

          And so do you, so are you saying you are Hitler?

          But, so does Mike Barnard, so are you saying he is Hitler?

          But, you both do, so are you saying both of you are Hitler?

          Or, are you just flinging insults because you have no evidence and are trying to avoid anyone realizing that?

          • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

            look buddy turbines emit infrasound. google it. educate yourself. have a good day!

          • A Real Libertarian 5 years ago

            educate yourself.

            Why don’t you?
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

          • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

            that is really funny did you just ask me to educate myself on Wikipedia really wow…. thanks for a good laugh buddy…. look Hitler used infrasound in World War 2 so that’s what the comparison is about alright? and really the people who know the most are those who live by the turbines do you ? I just spoke with someone today who suffers d/t living beside turbines.

            It is pretty heartless for the wind industry to not listen to the thousands of people around the world who suffer b/c of their greed. Wind energy is about money it’s not about anything else but greed , money, power, oh, and lies lots of them big and small.

            Just like how they’re supposed to be as loud as a refrigerator , right! just spoke to a farmer today who can hear them over his tractor running a mile away

            The wind industry thrives on ignorance and greed. But you know this, right Mikey?

          • A Real Libertarian 5 years ago

            Hitler used infrasound in World War 2

          • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

            are you really for liberty or only liberty for those who have big money big power and big business?

            do you have a heart have you ever listened with compassion towards someone whose life has been destroyed by wind turbines?

          • A Real Libertarian 5 years ago

            But you know this, right Mikey?

          • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

            so Mr libertarian how close do you live to an industrial wind turbine power station?

            and you cant even post under a real name that takes a lot of courage

          • A Real Libertarian 5 years ago

            so Mr libertarian how close do you live to an industrial wind turbine power station?

            and you cant even post under a real name that takes a lot of courage

  5. Kevon Martis 5 years ago

    Mike Barnard of IBM’s Global Business Services in Singapore
    operates an internet blog site http://www.barnardonwind.com
    where he posts his opinions on industrial wind energy.

    Like many people who opine on this topic, Mr. Barnard has
    very strong opinions.

    But when the passions that drive those strong opinions lead
    people to use their global electronic megaphone to threaten people with
    ridicule and embarrassment, a line is crossed. This is commonly called cyber
    bullying.

    Mr. Barnard’s employer recognizes this phenomena and, like
    all responsible global corporations, is rightly concerned that the private
    behavior of their employees can harm the value of their brand.

    Quoting from IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines: “IBM’s brand
    is best represented by its people and everything you publish online reflects
    upon it.”

    Further: “Respect your audience. Don’t use … personal
    insults, obscenity, or engage in any similar conduct that would not be
    appropriate or acceptable in IBM’s workplace.”

    IBM partners with pacer.org to help combat bullying. Pacer
    defines bullying as behavior that “…is intentional, meaning the act is done
    willfully, knowingly, and with deliberation to hurt or harm…” http://www.pacer.org

    Recently Mr. Barnard blogged about Dr. Nina Pierpont and her
    husband Dr. Calvin Martin and their work regarding health impacts from
    industrial wind turbines. Pierpont and Martin informed Mr. Barnard that a
    recent post made false statements about Dr. Pierpont’s credentials that they
    felt were libelous.

    Mr. Barnard responded to their complaint by email. He said
    in part: “ And of course you should realize that I am laughing at the thought
    of you attempting to find jurisdiction for any court action as I am a Canadian
    living in Singapore and using free blogging software based in the Cloud
    somewhere; you might have wanted to actually speak to your lawyer before
    writing this. Given the nature of this email I’m sure that you realize that I
    am going to share it publicly and others will join in the laughter at your
    expense.“

    He then published this blog post:
    http://barnardonwind.com/2013/07/07/first-barnardonwind-libel-threat-toothless-and-on-an-irrelevancy/

    This is not an isolated incident.

    Again: Pacer defines bullying as behavior that “…is
    intentional, meaning the act is done willfully, knowingly, and with
    deliberation to hurt or harm…”

    Mr. Barnard’s online behavior is consistent with cyber
    bullying and wholly inconsistent with IBM’s published employee guidelines.

    No one minds a vigorous and passionate debate.

    But electronic humiliation of respected and credentialed individuals-by an
    uncredentialed individual- as a game of sport is uncivil and reflects
    poorly on IBM.

    If you can document cyber bullying by Mike Barnard please
    contact IBM:

    [email protected]

  6. Kevon Martis 5 years ago

    Perhaps a little eyewitness testimony is in order? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q4cJ0m821g

    BTW: Michigan courts have upheld an order from the Mason County PC for CMS Energy to mitigate the noise from the turbines. The noise limit is 45dBa, a level Mr. Barnard would likely feel is safe.

  7. Mark 5 years ago

    Hello! I like wind turbines. If I lived in a remote area, it would be on the top of my list as a way to provide electricity. However, I believe we must keep in mind that wind turbines are not a total solution, i.e. they only work when the wind blows. You still have to have other sources of power available. There are obviously a lot of factors for and against wind turbines in addition to health affects. For example, land use, what density is needed, efficiency versus time, and how to make it a profitable venture at an industry size scale. To me they will never be more than a small scale venture that supplements other power generating systems unless some new method of generator and power delivery is developed at a cost effective rate.

  8. Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

    Clearly, a compassionate clinician, who never set out to be called anti wind blah blah blah but was simply treating her patients may not prevail in a highly flawed, scammed by big business, money power and greed, court setting.

    Apparently the courts want to throw out the real experiences of thousands of people around the world who have experienced chronic sleep deprivation which is a form of torture that the UN Council will not allow even in war.

    I too am a clinician. As a clinician, your job is to listen to patients and help them. Look Dr Pierpont has more credentials than three people okay? For starters, a PhD from Princeton and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School.

    All of these people that think industrial wind turbines are so great I want to know how many nights they have slept in a home that is bombarded with infrasound? yes the wind industry knows that these things produce infrasound. They know infrasound is destructive Hitler used it in World War II.

    Have you ever spoke eyeball to eyeball with someone whose life has been destroyed their health has been destroyed because of the infrasound that turbines emit? Dr Pierpont has, Dr Laurie has. Until you can listen with compassion to the pain that a person is experiencing in their lives because of these turbines your opinion does not matter

    Have a little old-fashioned compassion and respect and love for your “neighbor.”
    Is that too much to ask? I know a family who had to abandon their $350,000 home and move into a trailer because they can’t sleep in their own home!

    • Valerie Malicki 5 years ago

      And for clarity I have gotten to know this family quite well and I’m only saying this because I want to be clear that there are many people around the world who have had to abandon their home not just this family. Certainly I can’t know every family really well.

      It took 50 years for the Surgeon General’s warning to be placed on cigarettes that says it can cause birth defects. We now know that cigarettes can cause a host of other problems.

      I think Barnard and Chapman are just jealous because Dr Pierpont and Dr Laurie are more brilliant and compassionate and than they are!

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