The Truth about the Anti-Wind Movement: A Tiny, Paranoid, Disinformed, Koch-Funded Fringe

May 22, 2013


I’ve pointed out in the past that efforts to slow down the adoption of Renewable Energy are coordinated and enabled by Koch and Fossil Funded groups like Americans for Prosperity.  They rely on the same media manipulation that has given us everything from Weapons of Mass Destruction to the “Romney Landslide”, to Climate denial, to Kenyan birth certificates – and, they’ve even succeeded to some degree in poisoning the mainstream media dialogue.

But all lies must all eventually crash on the rocks of reality. Despite a nationwide windbagger mobilization and disinformation campaign that drew far more attention than the issue deserved, on tuesday, Massachusetts voters who live near wind turbines gave resounding approval to keeping them in operation.


Voters in Falmouth on Cape Cod decided Tuesday to keep the town’s two wind turbines, despite complaints about noise and health problems.

Voters were asked to decide on a plan to remove the two, 400-foot-tall turbines. They voted against the plan by a 2-1 margin, according to the Cape Cod Times. The vote was 6,001 against removal and 2,940 in favor of the plan, the newspaper said.

Both turbines are located at the town’s wastewater treatment facility. The first turbine began running in 2010.

Since the turbines’ installation, about 40 households in the neighborhood have complained about headaches, vertigo, sleep interruption and other problems.

After the initial complaints, the town tried curtailing the operation during extremely strong winds and also tried shutting them off at night. But some residents persisted in a campaign to take them down.

Proponents said support for the turbines and the renewable energy and revenues they produce is silent but strong.

Wind Wise-Massachusetts, which opposed the turbines, said the group was disappointed, but said the vote drew attention to ‘‘the negative impact of wind turbines on the lives of families living near them,’’

I’ve pointed out that in Europe, as in America, people that live close to and know wind turbines best support them overwhelmingly.  A recent poll in Iowa, the state which gets almost 25 percent of its electricity from wind, gave 81 percent support to more wind power.  Efforts to blame  all manner of vapors, demonic possession, bad juju, and even herpes, on wind turbines – continue to be trumped by pesky reality.

Media Matters:

…there is no evidence for a causal link between wind turbines and the reported health effects. On the other hand, there is significant evidence that these are symptoms could be a result of the “nocebo effect,” a phenomenon whereby people experience negative health effects from the mere suggestion that something could be harmful:

  • As NPR noted, a study published in Health Psychology found that people who were given information designed to provoke “low expectations that exposure to infrasound causes specified symptoms” experienced “no symptomatic changes.” On the other hand, people in the high expectations groupreported “significant increase in symptoms” whether they were exposed to sham infrasound or real infrasound.
  • Public health professor Simon Chapman found in a not yet peer-reviewed paper that “only five of the 49 wind farms in Australia have ever drawn complaints, and that all five had been targets of anti-wind activism. He also points out that, although wind turbines have been operating in Australia since 1993, over 80 percent of complaints arose after 2009, when anti-wind groups first began emphasizing the potential health hazards of wind turbines,” according to NPR.* Chapman further noted in an email to Media Matters, “turbines have been running in Denmark, Holland, Germany, Spain and parts of France for many years and all this is unheard of — my public health colleagues from those nations look at me blankly when I ask about it.”
  • As comedian Stephen Colbert mentioned in a satire of “wind turbine syndrome,” people have attributed everything from “weight gain” to “weight loss” to “herpes” to it, according to Chapman’s research.

  • The Environmental Health review concluded: “Given that annoyance appears to be more strongly related to visual cues and attitude than to noise itself, self reported health effects of people living near wind turbines are more likely attributed to physical manifestation from an annoyed state than from infrasound. This hypothesis is supported by the peer-reviewed literature pertaining to environmental stressors and health.”

Meanwhile, more polling news that politicians and journalists should pay attention to.

Business Wire:

Wide majorities of likely Illinois voters believe it is important that the state maintain its commitment to increase its use of renewable power and support legislation that would achieve this goal by fixing the state’s broken renewable portfolio standard (RPS) law, according to a Zogby survey released today.

The survey, conducted for Clean Energy Trust (CET) and Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), found an overwhelming majority (86.5 percent) of likely Illinois voters believe it is very important or somewhat important that Illinois ”continue to get an increasing amount of its energy from secure and clean power sources.” Renewable energy companies have invested more than $5 billion in Illinois power projects in the last few years.

Specifically, the survey found that:

  • 86.5 percent of likely voters also believe it is very or somewhat important to ”maintain policies to bring renewable energy to Illinois;” 55 percent called it ”very important.”
  • 76.7 percent of respondents said they are either strongly or somewhat in favor of legislation (SB 103) to ensure Illinois ”continues to increase its use of renewable power.” Only 8.2 percent are opposed.
  • 66.4 percent said they would either be much more or somewhat more likely to vote for their state representative or senator in the next election if they supported this legislation, while only 9 percent reported they were less likely to vote for that person.
  • 79.6 percent prefer that at least one quarter of the state’s electricity ”come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar” with more than 61 percent wanting the state’s renewable energy requirement doubled to at least half of the state’s electricity.

Yale/George Mason University:

  • A large majority of Americans (87%) say the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a “very high” (26%), “high” (32%), or medium priority (28%). Few say it should be a low priority (12%).
  • Moreover, most Americans (70%) say global warming should be a “very high” (16%), “high” (26%), or “medium priority” (29%) for the president and Congress. Three in ten (28%) say it should be a low priority.
  • Six in ten Americans (59%) say the U.S. should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do. Relatively few (10%) say the U.S. should reduce its emissions only if other industrialized and/or developing countries do – and only 6 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Americans say that corporations and industry (70%), citizens themselves (63%), the U.S. Congress (57%), and the President (52%) should be doing more to address global warming.

26 Responses to “The Truth about the Anti-Wind Movement: A Tiny, Paranoid, Disinformed, Koch-Funded Fringe”

  1. The “Wind Turbine Options Analysis Process Final Report to the Falmouth Board of Selectmen – Falmouth, MA” is a quantitative case study for what to consider when sighting wind turbines in residential areas.

    Click to access wtopreport.pdf

  2. I was all set to take pity on those affected by WTS and then I read this:
    “their turbines violate massachusetts state noise pollution regulations”
    “unfortunately, the “truth” you are peddling is not fact based.”
    So I looked up the report. Says they passed.
    Who is not fact based?
    Not a good start for making your case. Probably being polite would be a better way. If there are real reasons why people are disturbed by siting wind near residents, I would genuinely like to know and understand them. But let’s not make up BS.

    Looking up the issue, one encounters “healourtown”
    The site shows a “Health” button. A paper is referenced
    Wind Turbine Acoustic Investigation: Infrasound and Low-Frequency Noise—A Case Study – Ambrose, Rand, Krogh.
    Krogh is a member of The Society for Wind Vigilance
    a report on another of Krogh’s papers says:

    “This is a deeply misleading article by long time anti-wind activists 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.”

    Among Society for Wind vigilance members, Nina Pierpont
    Check out this analysis of her work:

    “Nina Pierpont is a pediatrician and an opponent of wind turbines. In a 2009 book she authored, Pierpont invented the term, “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”
    Since then, Pierpont’s theories have been widely discredited by the scientific community, which points to severe flaws in her research methodology and lack of statistical validity, among other problems.”

    Hey Peter, can you run up that video on the “Koch funded fringe”?
    How’s that?

    BTW another reference

  3. clearthesky Says:

    So, Peter Sinclair wants everyone to believe that the anti-wind movement is “tiny, paranoid, disinformed, and Koch-funded!”

    The notion that the Koch brothers would ever give any funding to someone like me is rather startling, considering that I repeat almost every day that we need to reduce carbon emissions and PHASE OUT fossil-fueled power plants around the world.

    Many studies have shown that adding wind power to the grid can never bring about a significant reduction of carbon emissions, since the intermittency of wind power causes fossil-fueled backup power sources to be operated much less efficiently.

    It is precisely because wind power is clearly unable to replace coal power worldwide, and indeed can hardly reduce emissions at all, that I oppose tax credits and obligations for wind power.

    Would Peter Sinclair like to explain in what way the conclusions on wind power reached by the following studies are “disinformed?”

    Click to access peter-lang-wind-power.pdf

    Click to access Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf

    Click to access Germany_Study_-_FINAL.pdf

    Click to access LowBenefit.pdf

    Click to access liik-emissionsreduction.pdf

    • greenman3610 Says:

      in the case of wind energy, we have what we might call an ‘existence proof” in the industrial and economic
      performance of Germany, which is why it is so important for the tiny, koch funded anti wind, anti
      renewable lobby to tear down the German example.
      I’ll take your
      arguments about the how unreliable wind is seriously,
      when Germany stops exporting power, and ceases to have
      one of the most reliable electrical grids on the planet.

    • Its easy to dismiss wind power as having any use if you do not believe the problems we face with regards to climate change. The fact is that the world needs to stop CO2 emissions as fast as possible to void runaway climate change. In the face of this, if we even want to continue any form of industrial civilisation – even with intermittent power – there are really no options. Wind power generally gives better ERoEI than most of the other renewables if you disregard hydro power (which is really only possible in certain locations).

      If you do not believe the seriousness of climate change then I perfectly understand that “whatever burns best and easiest” is what the world needs the most. But I guess Peter Sinclair is fairly clear in where he stands on climate change.

    • anonymous Says:

      So many untruths, so little time…

      CEPOS is a well known fossil fuel funded think tank, e.g.,…0.0…1c.1.14.psy-ab.gtEOJmMEHb0&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.47008514,d.bGE&fp=6c9cc3634f709c4f&biw=1356&bih=773

      Here’s an expert debunking.

      Click to access DanishWindPower_Export_and_Cost.pdf

  4. […] 2013/05/22: PSinclair: The Truth about the Anti-Wind Movement: A Tiny, Paranoid, Disinformed, Koch-F… […]

  5. […] The Truth about the Anti-Wind Movement: A Tiny, Paranoid, Disinformed, Koch-Funded Fringe (Climate Crocks) […]

  6. No, it’s probably 90% people who simply respect landscapes, seascapes, birds, bats, natural night skies and quietude. Try Occam’s Razor instead of conspiracy theories. People have admired, painted and photographed landscapes and oceans for centuries. Why would they be OK with machines that industrialize those ancient views? Real environmentalists block roads to prevent construction projects, or even tree-sit. Wind installations comprise most major forms of landscape damage: logging, blasting, road grading and permanent structures like nothing else in the countryside.

    So what if fossil fuel interests can be anti-wind as well? They don’t own the minds of the other protesters! People protest cellphone towers and all sorts of structures solely on aesthetics. It’s about quality of life. This was going on long before climate change became an issue, and it will continue to happen. Scenery is a big deal and always will be.

    Take the example of a famous lake that’s facing a ring of white towers:

    You think lcoals are just going to sit back and watch that desecration because CO2 is also problem? More than one thing matters in this world. Many of them are educated enough to know that wind power is a false solution, even if it wasn’t ugly. Few if any of those people are undercover shills for big oil or coal. Have you ever heard of tourism, postcards and property values? Loch Ness is one of many landscapes under siege from wind power.

    The question never directly answered by Wind Cronies is why they don’t care about this huge, new form of industrialization in its own right. They divert the topic to coal mines or fracking without fail, since they know wind turbines are unwanted eyesores. Nobody in their right mind would choose those horizons over natural ones. Industrial scenery was snuck in without due process and they’re fed up now. It’s really that simple in most cases.

    • Yes, industrialized views like deforestation for palm oil or building cities, tall sky scraper office buildings, concrete everywhere, asphalt roads, fracking sites, tar sands, mountain top removal coal mining sites, and gazillion cars and trucks spewing all kinds of nasty stuff … I’d take windmills any day, thank you.

      The only difference is that you are used to those already existing industrialized views, and you are not yet used to windmills and solar cells. Its a common fallacy when judging replacement technology. I believe in the old days they were called luddites. Electrification of everything around us is coming whether you like it or not as its way more efficient energy usage and it is possible to generate with renewables.

      • Read your ironic first paragraph, especially the parts about “tall” structures, “concrete,” “roads” and “mountaintop removal.” Wind turbines range up to 700 feet tall now, they require large concrete slabs, many new roads, and mountaintops are blasted and flattened to accommodate them.

        Is there some remote corner of your windy mind that understands why people are against wind turbines for serious aesthetic reasons? Do you understand that they number over a quarter million around the globe, and industry plans call for up to 4 doublings of that number? You claim to lament construction projects of every type except the ones you make unbelievable excuses for!

        You must have at least a speck of insight into why people are angry about their lives being shattered by machines that no other industry would place in their viewshed. The assumption that the ONLY reason for being against wind turbines is to promote fossil fuels is as stupid as any conspiracy theory out there.

        In response to all of the above, you will just ignore all of the above. I’ve seen it too many times in these debates. Just as bad as any climate denier, and a lot phonier because you’re claiming to be on nature’s side.

        • Well I don’t ignore any good argument and surely if there was a fantastic fusion energy source on the horizon, all other efforts into renewable is almost obsolete. But the fact is that civilisation as we know it is based upon large amounts of fossil fuels which we do know have serious sideffects. It has not only boosted our ability to pave large amounts of our ground with asphalt, clear forests in no time, build large cities – but also exponentially grown the human population (doubled just since I was born).

          If we are truly serious about cutting carbon emissions without totally crashing cilivsation, we need them all – solar, wind, hydro, geothermal. As it is now, wind is in fact the highest energy return on energy invested of them all besides hydro electric which of course is limited seriously geographically and have major environmental impacts. But I personally think solar will be where we will get most of our energy, simply due to the fact that its possible to put on every rooftop and requires less specialised maintenance. If integrated into roofs like e.g. how Tesla envisions it, it will be just like any other household appliance we have gotten used to. Certainly some regions of the earth will benefit greatly from this and others it will be quite useless.

          I am not sure why you have so much against windpower really. From my impression most people in Denmark and Netherlands are not complaining about them at all, but quite happy that they can almost provide them completely with renewable energy at certain times of the year. Last time I was in Denmark (driving through the whole country almost) we did not consider them any “blight on the horizon” and neither did we hear them whenever we stopped to check them out. We heard the constant buzzing of combustion engines on roads way more than the windmills.

          Perhaps you can instead focus your energy at how to make them “prettier” if that is the problem. Perhaps its possible to grow vines/trees around them, carefully maintained so the blades are above and not really visible for people on the ground? I feel most of the windmills are normally placed in more rocky formations though, places were there is a lot of wind so not much can really grow there anyway. Perhaps just painting them in new colours or make art installations on them will make them more a part of the landscape? I am sure there are many ways.

  7. “I am not sure why you have so much against windpower really. From my impression most people in Denmark and Netherlands are not complaining about them at all, but quite happy that they can almost provide them completely with renewable energy at certain times of the year.”

    What exactly don’t you understand? I and many others find them extremely disrespectful to scenery, and it’s not complicated. I don’t care if they are relatively effective. They are very inefficient in terms of their total power per acre, and that means entire areas affected by their presence, not just their tower foundations (a common lie about how much land they actually impact).

    Rooftop solar should be getting the bulk of subsidies right now. We don’t have another planet to run a scenery-desecration experiment on!

    Also, it’s disingenuous to cite just two countries anecdotally as indicators of total world opinion on wind turbines. And you’re wrong about the Danes and Dutch, anyhow. Read these: (Danish people tolerated wind projects only up to a point)

    If you bothered to do serious research on the opposition (without the canned assumptions of this blog) you’d find a ton of it around the world. Instead, you’d rather pretend these enormous machines are barely affecting anything, like a few daisies scattered around. It really comes down to people who do or don’t have a moral land ethic (I do).

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