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Wind turbines and health
Rare earth minerals
Weird claims

Senator Bob Day

Senator Bob Day has called climate change a scam and claimed that there is 'compelling' evidence that wind turbines impact on people's health. In this he is at odds with all the appropriately qualified bodies around the world that have seriously looked into both matters.

Written 2015/04/27, modified 2016/06/16 – ©
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com

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Climate change

In early January 2016 Senator Day had a letter calling climate change a scam published in some South Australian newspapers.

The reputable Australia Institute provides the facts on Wind Enegy, Climate and Health
In this letter he effectively asked the readers to believe that the great majority of the world's climate scientists were involved in a huge international conspiracy on a scale quite unprecedented in the whole history of science. He wanted the readers to accept that highly respected organisations such as NASA and NOAA, Australia's own CSIRO and BoM, and many scientific organisations in other countries were complicit in the conspiracy. He wanted readers to accept that he knew better than 98% of national governments and the leaders of the world's great religions.

How could anyone with any intelligence take these claims seriously?

He went on to disparage renewable energy for what he claimed was its high cost (wind and solar PV are actually very competitive economically with new built coal and gas). He suggested that Australia should develop nuclear power (which he neglected to say was much more expensive than wind and solar power).

He praised coal, while totally neglecting to mention the well proven health problems associated with air pollution resulting from the burning of coal.

He called carbon dioxide 'plant food' and ignored the fact that it was making our oceans steadily more acidic.

Finally, he neglected to mention the fact that fire danger (and the frequency of serious bushfires) was increasing (due to climate change).


Senator Day gave no supporting evidence for his claims – because there isn't any. Supporting evidence for my statements above can be read at the following sites:

Wind turbines and health

There have been many reviews of the available evidence by the world's public health bodies and studies published in health science journals. Not one of these has concluded that wind turbines adversely impact human or animal health beyond some annoyance in some people. The list is too long to repeat on this page, I have tried to include links to the important articles in a page on wind turbines and health.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no doubt that the burning of coal producing air pollution that kills millions world-wide each year and damages our atmosphere and our oceans through climate change.

Senator Day has chosen to ignore the science and believe unsubstantiated claims and rumour.

Why you should not believe that wind turbines cause illness

Waterloo Wind Farm
Waterloo wind turbine
This is one of the more controversial wind farms in South Australia
  1. Science: There is nothing in respectable peer-reviewed scientific journals indicating a direct link between wind turbines and ill-health. If wind turbines really were making people ill it would not be difficult to do research to provide convincing evidence of this. No one has reported on research demonstrating such a link. In addition to the peer-reviewed literature science depends on rational argument – the points below show that it is irrational to claim that turbines cause health problems;
  2. Cause: There is no known mechanism by which turbines could make people ill. There are very few things known to science that are undetectable to our senses yet can cause us harm from a distance – wind turbines produce none of these. (Levels of audible sound and infrasound from wind turbines are much too low to be harmful);
  3. Dose: There is little, if any, correspondence between a person's exposure to wind turbines and their likelihood of reporting symptoms. The intensity of anything radiating from a wind turbine must decrease with distance according to the inverse square law of physics. The claimed illnesses are just as likely to occur at larger distances rather than smaller: they show no dose-response correlation, which is quite counter to the science of epidemiology.
  4. Selectivity: The great majority of people are unaffected by nearby turbines and the alleged cases of illness are almost all in people who get no financial benefit from the wind turbines and in those who started with negative opinions about turbines. Farmers who are receiving lease payments and wind farm workers hardly ever claim a health problem from turbines. The 'problems' are almost entirely confined to English-speaking countries (because that's where they have had the publicity).
  5. Legal cases: From 1998 to 2014 there were 49 legal cases against wind farms on health grounds; 48 were decided in favour of wind farms. (See Energy Policy Institute; written by Mike Barnard.)
  6. Symptoms: The symptoms associated with wind turbines are those of anxiety-related disorders (see Opinion from a clinical psychologist);
  7. Car analogy: Wind turbines have three main parts: a fan, a gearbox and a generator. Our cars have the same parts. Sound levels at all frequencies are much higher in cars than near wind turbines. How many of us think that our cars are making us sick?;
  8. My own experience: I have visited many wind farms on many occasions, have even slept beneath operating wind turbines a number of times, in a cabin 850m from an operating turbine twice, and in a vacant house 500m from a wind turbine on another occasion. I have never heard sounds from the turbines loud enough to be unpleasant. I have never felt any ill-effects that might be ascribed to infrasound or any other emanations from the turbines.
The fear and anxiety toward wind turbines that is instilled in some people by irresponsible rumour mongers and unethical or ill-informed journalists may lead on to psychosomatic disorders. These people are largely to blame for the epidemic hysteria around wind farms that we are seeing in some English speaking countries.

Senator Bob Day and rare earth minerals

In early May 2015 Senator Day placed a page on his Internet site blaming the environmental damage caused by rare earth mining on wind power. Geology.com gives the use of rare earth elements as:
"Rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more."
Many types of mining in many third world nations is very destructive; rare earth mining might well be more destructive than most. Rare earth magnets are used in wind turbines; and rare earth elements are used in a great many other places in the modern world.

On the other hand air pollution from the burning of coal kills millions of people each year, as reported by the World Health Organisation, and renewable energy, including wind power, displaces coal fired power. For example, in South Australia one coal fired power station at Port Augusta has been closed and the only other in the state is used only seasonally since the building of our wind farms.

The burning of fossil fuels is also one of the main causes of disastrous climate change and ocean acidification.

Of course there are environmental implications in the manufacture of wind turbines and the construction of wind farms, but they are much 'cleaner' than the fossil fuel alternatives.

People like Senator Day use facts in a very misleading way. Shame on you Senator Day; Australians have a right to more honesty in their politicians.


Some of Senator Day's weird claims

Senator Day had letters printed on at least some local newspapers in South Australia in late June 2015.

Wind turbines in North Holland
Tulip fields
Wind farms are compatible with intensive agriculture
He claimed that wind farms adversely affected crop yields, yet characteristically gave no evidence in support of this claim. There isn't any such evidence; how could wind farms reduce crop yields? The compatibility of wind farms and agriculture is shown by the fact that the three US states with the greatest agricultural production are also the three states with the most wind power.

He claimed that wind farms "cooled the air". It is, of course, a physical impossibility that they could significantly cool the air. Interestingly, other wind farm opponents have claimed the opposite, that a wind farm contribute to global warming by causing higher temperatures.

Most tellingly he lamented the shutting down of the last coal fired power stations in South Australia and blaimed it on wind power. (He was right in that SA's wind power has made the coal fired power stations less profitable.) This statement at one time denied the urgent need to act on climate change; a need on which all clear-thinking people in the world agree, and is a contradiction of the claims commonly made by wind farm opponents who make statements such as:

  • "No coal-fired power station has ever been shut down because of wind turbines" or
  • "Wind farms don't produce a significant amount of electricity and can't replace fossil fuels" or
  • "Wind farms don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions".
If wind farms force the shutting down of coal fired power stations by competition then they obviously generate a very significant amount of electricity and reduce total emissions. Australia's wind power opponents really should decide which lies they are going to use so that they don't contradict each other.

While it is sad that people lose their jobs when coal fired power stations are shut down, it must happen if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided. It will continue to happen, there is ample evidence that the coal industry has no future. There were many jobs in the slave trade but no one laments their loss.