The Smoking Gun: Top US Noise Experts – Paul Schomer & George Hessler – Endorse Steven Cooper’s Wind Farm Study

atomic-bomb-e1355417893840

The fallout continues ….

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During the short month that’s passed since Steven Cooper’s Cape Bridgewater wind farm noise study hit the press (see our post here), the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers have been in a state of absolute panic.

Pacific Hydro – the operator of the Cape Bridgewater disaster, which paid for the study, but deliberately limited its terms of reference – has gone into absolute “damage control” (see our post here).

Among the wind industry’s shrinking band of media manipulators and Twitter jockeys, Steven Cooper’s study has been criticised because it hasn’t had the magic wand of “peer review” waved over it.

Cooper requested that his report be peer reviewed before it was published, but Pac Hydro flatly refused to do so, knowing full well that it would only add fuel to an already rampaging fire. For an outfit now facing $millions in damages claims from its victims, no surprises there.

Well, two of America’s top noise and vibration experts have taken the blowtorch and microscope to Cooper’s study, not only endorsing the sophistication and rigour of the study, but concluding that Cooper’s data proves that the sensations experienced by all of those people who were the subjects of the study (including sleep disruption) were directly caused by Pac Hydro’s wind turbines.

The experts involved, Paul Schomer and George Hessler, have highly relevant CV’s longer than an Arctic Winter’s night (see these links Schomer and Hessler); and both of them were involved in another proper piece of investigation into the adverse impacts of turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound on neighbours at Shirley, Wisconsin back in 2012 (see the report here and our post here).

We’ll let STT champion, Graham Lloyd open the batting with this cracking little piece.

For the wind industry and its parasites, it’s bad enough that the story got a run at all; that it appeared on page 3 of The Weekend Australian (Australia’s national rag and favourite Saturday read) only added further insult to festering injury, sending them deeper into their current state of apoplexy: could permanent paroxysms be the new ‘normal’ for these charming lads?

graham-lloyd

Graham Lloyd: tends to ensure that the true facts end up in a great story.

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Unseen, unheard wind farms a blow to health
Graham Lloyd
The Weekend Australian
14 February 2015

GROUNDBREAKING Australian research has established a “cause and effect” existed between wind farms and health impacts on some nearby residents, a peer review by one of the world’s leading acoustic experts says.

The review of a study by Steven Cooper of residents living near Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm was undertaken by Paul Schomer, standards director of the Acoustical Society of America.

Dr Schomer’s research has been used to define the dose response and acoustic criteria for road traffic, rail traffic, aircraft traffic and shooting.

As a result of the Cooper research, Dr Schomer said wind farm developers should now say “We may affect some people”.

He said regulators charged with protecting health and welfare “will not be able to say they know of no adverse effects”.

Pacific Hydro has said previously it did accept the Cooper research had established a cause-and-effect link, a claim that was not made in the report.

The National Health and Medical Research Council this week said there was no consistent evidence wind farms caused adverse health effects and further research was needed.

The NHMRC did not review the Cooper research.

Dr Schomer said the Cooper work had shown clearly there was “at least one non-visual, non-audible pathway for wind turbine emissions to reach, enter and ­affect some people”.

The six people from three households involved in the study had recorded the timing and level of effects they were experiencing.

Their notes had shown that impacts corresponded with wind turbine power changes. The subjects did not know what was happening with the wind turbines when they recorded their notes.

“This study finds these six people sense the operation of the turbine(s) via other pathways than hearing or seeing, and that the adverse reactions to the operations of the wind turbine(s) correlates directly with the power output of the wind turbine(s),” he said.

“The important point here is that something is coming from the wind turbines to affect these people and that something increases or decreases as the power output of the turbine increases or decreases.

“It really does not matter what the pathway is, whether it is infra-sound or some new form of rays or electromagnetic field coming off the turbine blade. If the turbines are the cause, the wind farm is responsible and needs to fix it.”

Dr Schomer said criticism that only a small number of people were involved in the study was not relevant. “One person affected is a lot more than none; the existence of one cause-and-effect pathway is a lot more than none.”

The peer review was co-signed by George Hessler, the president and principal consultant for US acoustics specialist Hessler Associates.
The Weekend Australian

Before we turn to the peer review itself, there are a couple of observations to make about Graham’s, otherwise fine, article.

From the first paragraph, one might be left with the impression that only “some” of the people the subject of Cooper’s study exhibited the sensations recorded, when he writes that the study “has established the “cause and effect” that existed between wind farms and health impacts on some nearby residents”.

In fact, ALL of the 6 residents included in the study recorded sensations being caused by certain aspects of turbine operation (differences existed only as to the type of sensation and degree thereof). As Paul Schomer and George Hessler note in the review:

“Cooper finds that these six subjects are able to sense attributes of the wind turbine emissions without there being an audible or visual stimulus present. More specifically, he finds that the subject responses correlate with the wind turbine power being generated but not with either the sound or vibration”.

As an aside, note that when the term “audible stimulus” is used, it’s being used to distinguish between the sound/noise the subjects could hear (ie “auditory responses”) and the emission of “infrasound” which, by definition, cannot be heard as a sound or noise, but is sensed as changes in pressure; either in the inner ear or through other parts of the nervous system.

Another little throwaway line, for those in the know, absolutely dripping with meaning, is where Graham reports that: “The NHMRC did not review the Cooper research.”

You see, last week the NHMRC pumped out another politically inspired piece of propaganda, asserting that there was “no consistent evidence” of wind farms causing adverse health effects.

STT thinks that 21 peer reviewed articles, entirely to the contrary and all saying much the same thing, tends to suggest a modicum of “consistency” (see our post here). But the NHMRC, being little more than shills for the wind industry these days, simply ignored the bulk of that work; or downplayed its significance – instead preferring lines pitched up by the Clean Energy Council about wind farm neighbours who complain, as people who are simply “anti-wind”, climate change deniers, that can’t stand the ‘look’ of these things (ie the fallacious premise for the nonsense “nocebo” story).

The institutional corruption within the NHMRC is writ large (see our post here and this Sydney Morning Herald article here). Moreover, the Federal Minister in charge of the shenanigans at the NHMRC is none other than Ian “Macca” Macfarlane – the best ‘mate’ of Infigen and CEC head, Miles George and all-round wind industry ‘protector’ (see our posts here and here).  So, our Spidey senses are well and truly tingling.

That the “NHMRC did not review the Cooper research” might be comfortably excused, given the fact it was only made public a little over four weeks ago: it’s a thumping piece of work; and understanding it at a technical level would require a lot more thinking power than the current NHMRC brains trust could muster.

But sins of omission can quickly become crimes of commission: here, the NHMRC were fully aware of Cooper’s study and – if these people were not incompetent or corrupt – ought to have been aware of the enormous significance of Cooper’s work.

The same goes for the highly detailed and technical work carried out last year by the University of Adelaide – under the watchful eye of Australia’s most experienced and respected vibration and acoustic expert, Professor Colin Hansen – at Waterloo in South Australia (see our post here). That’s right, yet another substantial piece of high quality research (peer reviewed, published and funded by the Australian Research Council) totally ignored.

The NHMRC was fully aware of the Waterloo study, but rejected the final paper out of hand because it was received “too late” – in December last year the NHMRC asserting, in relation to the Hansen work, that:

[W]e are unable to consider additional evidence [ie the Waterloo study] at this stage, as the Reference Group has completed the evidence review process and the final Information Paper has been submitted to the Council of NHMRC for approval prior to its release.

Having rejected it, on the spurious grounds of being delivered “too late”, these wind industry puppets would have had no idea of the significance of that work: many of its key findings concerning wind turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound (for example, the “wind turbine signature”, evident inside and outside homes out to 8.7km from turbines) were replicated by Cooper in his study. Or, maybe they did? And simply decided that the Hansen work was an “uncomfortable fit” with the narrative that they’re directed to parrot on behalf of their wind industry mates.

Wind turbine signature

NHMRC says “move on, nothing to see here”.

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If the NHMRC – a fully taxpayer funded body of boffins, charged with the protection of Australian citizens’ health – was even vaguely interested in advancing scientific research, it would spend more time trying to read and understand the work produced by the likes of Hansen and Cooper; and less time polishing up and pumping out half-baked press releases every 5 minutes, in an effort to exonerate its wind industry mates and masters.

That the misconduct, cronyism and undisclosed commercial and ideological interests of those in and around the NHMRC is squarely within the sights of the Senate Select Committee, can only bode ill for those in it up to their necks (see our post here). And about time, too.

Now, putting rotten public health apples to one side, let’s return to the peer review of Cooper’s study.

The Results of an Acoustic Testing Program, Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm

Prepared for Energy Pacific by Steve Cooper, The Acoustic Group

A Review of this Study and Where It Is Leading

Paul D. Schomer, Ph.D., P.E.;
Schomer and Associates, Inc.; Standards Director, Acoustical Society of America

George Hessler, Hessler Associates, Inc.

10 February 2015

Recently Cooper has completed a first of its kind test regarding the acoustical emissions of wind turbines. His is the first study of effects on people that includes a cooperating windfarm operator in conjunction with a researcher that does not work exclusively for windfarms. This study makes three very simple points:

  1. There is at least one non-visual, non-audible pathway for wind turbine emissions to reach, enter, and affect some people
  1. This is a longitudinal study wherein the subjects record in a diary regularly as a function of time the level of the effects they are experiencing at that time
  1. This periodic recording allows for responses as the wind-turbine power changes up and down, changes not known by the subject

The results are presented in a 218 page report augmented by 22 appendices spread over 6 volumes so that every single detail in the study has been documented for all to see and examine. The methods and results are totally transparent. The 22 appendices and the main text exhaustively document everything involved with this study.

Six subjects, 3 couples from different homes are the participants in this study. They do not represent the average resident in the vicinity of a wind farm. Rather, they are self-selected as being particularly sensitive and susceptible to wind farm acoustic emissions, so much so that one couple has abandoned their house. Cooper finds that these six subjects are able to sense attributes of the wind turbine emissions without there being an audible or visual stimulus present. More specifically, he finds that the subject responses correlate with the wind turbine power being generated but not with either the sound or vibration.

Although the very nature of a longitudinal study provides for a finding of cause and effect, some will undoubtedly argue that a correlation does not show cause and effect. In this case they must postulate some other thing like an unknown “force” that simultaneously causes the wind turbine power being generated and symptoms such as nausea, vertigo, and headaches to change up and down together. But that is the kind of “creative” logic it takes to say that this correlation does not represent cause-and-effect. So, rather than making such groundless arguments, perhaps something like an “expert statistical analysis” can be expected “proving” this is not a “valid sample” of the public at large, or proving the study does not do something else it was never intended to do.

So it is important to sort out what, by design, this study was intended to do and does do, and what, by design, it was not intended to do and does not do. This study is not in any way a sample of the general population nor is it in any way a sample of the general population in the vicinity of windfarms. According to Cooper’s report, this study was intended to address the issue of complaints from residents in the vicinity of Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm. Pacific Hydro requested the conduct of an acoustic study at 3 residential properties to ascertain any identifiable noise impacts of the wind farm operations or certain wind conditions that could relate to the complaints that had been received. The study was to incorporate three houses that are located between 650 m and 1600 m from the nearest turbine. This research represents a case study at 3 houses, each with one couple, 6 people. This is one sample, and only one sample, of a small group of people who are all self-selected as being very or extremely sensitive to wind turbine acoustic emissions. A similar group could be assembled elsewhere such as in Shirley Wisconsin, USA or Ontario Canada.

This study finds that these 6 people sense the operation of the turbine(s) via other pathways than hearing or seeing, and that the adverse reactions to the operations of the wind turbine(s) correlates directly with the power output of the wind turbine{s} and fairly large changes in power output.

Attempts may be made to obviscate these simple points with such arguments as it cannot be proved that infra-sound is the cause of the discomfort. But that again is a specious argument. The important point here is that something is coming from the wind turbines to affect these people and that something increases or decreases as the power output of the turbine increases or decreases. Denying infra-sound as the agent accomplishes nothing. It really does not matter what the pathway is, whether it is infra-sound or some new form of rays or electro-magnetic field coming off the turbine blades. If the turbines are the cause, then the windfarm is responsible and needs to fix it. Anyone who truly doubts the results should want to replicate this study using independent[1] acoustical consultants at some other wind farm, such as Shirley Wisconsin, USA, where there are residents who are self-selected as being very or extremely sensitive to wind turbine acoustic emissions.[2]

Some may ask, this is only 6 people, why is it so important? The answer is that up until now windfarm operators have said there are no known cause and effect relations between windfarm emissions and the response of people living in the vicinity of the windfarm other than those related to visual and/or audible stimuli, and these lead to some flicker which is treated, and “some annoyance with noise.” This study proves that there are other pathways that affect some people, at least 6. The windfarm operator simply cannot say there are no known effects and no known people affected. One person affected is a lot more than none; the existence of just one cause-and-effect pathway is a lot more than none. It only takes one example to prove that a broad assertion is not true, and that is the case here. Windfarms will be in the position where they must say: “We may affect some people.” And regulators charged with protecting the health and welfare of the citizenry will not be able to say they know of no adverse effects. Rather, if they choose to support the windfarm, they will do so knowing that they may not be protecting the health and welfare of all the citizenry.

[1] Independent Consultants are those who have worked for both industry and communities, and or have espoused the need for research to sort out the issues of people reacting to non-audible non-visual stimuli.

[2] Cooper’s test shows cause and effect for at least one non-visual, no-audible pathway to affect people. If one only wanted to test for the ability to sense the turning on of wind turbines, and not replicate the cause and effect portion of Cooper’s study, this reduced test could be accomplished in one to two months with a cooperative windfarm where there are residents who are self-selected as being very or extremely sensitive to wind turbine acoustic emissions and who also assert that they have this sensing ability. This study, a subset of the full Cooper tests, would only prove, again, that non-visual, non-auditory pathways exist by which wind turbine emissions may affect the body and “signal” the brain.

Paul D. Schomer, Ph.D., P.E.; and George Hessler

A measured, detailed and careful review – as you’d naturally expect from America’s top acoustic experts. That it stands as a ringing endorsement of Steven Cooper’s work brings with it a number of consequences that will reverberate around the world.

Let’s start with a little science 101.

When the NHMRC pumped out its propaganda piece last week, its “wind farm committee chairman”, Bruce Armstrong moaned that “it was difficult to prove a negative – that wind farms do not harm health”.

Maybe Bruce is not the strongest or sharpest scientific mind at the NHMRC, or maybe he’s just forgotten the basic principles of science? So, here’s a little refresher.

The idea of science (well, it used to be) is to propound some hypothesis directed at a particular relationship; to gather some evidence in relation to that hypothesis; and then throw that evidence firmly against the hypothesis, in an effort to disprove it. What Karl Popper called “falsifiability”, which he defined as the essential feature of science; summed up by Wikipedia as:

Falsifiability or refutability of a statement, hypothesis, or theory is an inherent possibility to prove it to be false. A statement is called falsifiable if it is possible to conceive an observation or an argument which proves the statement in question to be false. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning not “to commit fraud” but “show to be false”. Some philosophers argue that science must be falsifiable.

For example, by the problem of induction, no number of confirming observations can verify a universal generalization, such as “all swans are white”, yet it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single black swan. Thus, the term falsifiability is sometimes synonymous to testability.

The black swan example is routinely used to help explain “hypothesis testing”; as to which, the stats boys tell us that:

A statistical hypothesis is an assumption about a population parameter. This assumption may or may not be true. Hypothesis testing refers to the formal procedures used by statisticians to accept or reject statistical hypotheses.

Statistical Hypotheses

The best way to determine whether a statistical hypothesis is true would be to examine the entire population. Since that is often impractical, researchers typically examine a random sample from the population. If sample data are not consistent with the statistical hypothesis, the hypothesis is rejected.

There are two types of statistical hypotheses.

  • Null hypothesis. The null hypothesis, denoted by H0, is usually the hypothesis that sample observations result purely from chance.
  • Alternative hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis, denoted by H1 or Ha, is the hypothesis that sample observations are influenced by some non-random cause.

Can We Accept the Null Hypothesis?

Some researchers say that a hypothesis test can have one of two outcomes: you accept the null hypothesis or you reject the null hypothesis. Many statisticians, however, take issue with the notion of “accepting the null hypothesis.” Instead, they say: you reject the null hypothesis or you fail to reject the null hypothesis.

Why the distinction between “acceptance” and “failure to reject?” Acceptance implies that the null hypothesis is true. Failure to reject implies that the data are not sufficiently persuasive for us to prefer the alternative hypothesis over the null hypothesis.

The process of hypothesis testing, starts with stating the hypotheses:

This involves stating the null and alternative hypotheses. The hypotheses are stated in such a way that they are mutually exclusive. That is, if one is true, the other must be false. (for more detail and examples, see the link here)

The white swan example is picked up in this analysis of the same point:

Although the null hypothesis cannot be proven true, it can be proven false. This is because science and hypothesis testing are based on the logic of falsification. If someone claims that all swans are white, confirmatory evidence (in the form of lots of white swans) cannot prove the assertion to be true. However, contradictory evidence (in the form of a single black swan) makes it clear that the claim is invalid.

The observation of one black swan is sufficient to falsify the claim that all swans are white. That single black swan proves that the claim is wrong. (for more detail and examples, see the link here)

Albert Einstein identified as much when he wrote that: “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong”.

swan

When one is more than enough.

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So far, so scientific.

Now, back to Bruce Armstrong’s bleating about the, apparent, difficulty of proving a “negative”; viz, on the NHMRC’s case, “that wind farms do not harm health”.

That statement, as the NHMRC’s null hypothesis (just like the “all swans are white” statement) can easily be proved false: all it takes is one “black swan”, so to speak.

And that’s precisely point that Paul Schomer and George Hessler were making, with their observation that:

This study proves that there are other pathways that affect some people, at least 6. The windfarm operator simply cannot say there are no known effects and no known people affected. One person affected is a lot more than none; the existence of just one cause-and-effect pathway is a lot more than none. It only takes one example to prove that a broad assertion is not true, and that is the case here.

So, Bruce, not so “difficult” after all.

In science, all it takes is a single observation and the null hypothesis (here, the NHMRC’s assertion that “wind farms do not harm health”) must simply be rejected: it is no longer valid.

Moreover, the alternate hypothesis – being the mutually exclusive statement that: “wind farms do harm human health” cannot be rejected: the null hypotheses, having been rightly rejected, leaves the alternate hypotheses standing.

With half-a-dozen “black swans” popping up in Cooper’s Cape Bridgewater study, the NHMRC, and its mates in the wind industry, as Schomer and Hessler put it: “cannot say there are no known effects and no known people affected”.

And, the same goes for the acoustic experts that routinely run cover for wind power outfits.

STT hears that a band of acoustic experts from around the world are keen to line up behind Hessler and Schomer in support of their review of Cooper’s study; especially those who’ve been involved in any way with the wind industry, in order to distance themselves from the risible noise ‘standards’ they wrote for their masters; the piles of dross that they’ve repeatedly dished up in wind farm planning applications and/or in defence of the wind industry; and the harm they’ve needlessly caused as a result (see our post here).

STT predicts that, from here on in, the wind industry’s pet acoustic consultants will be a lot less concerned about covering for their paymasters; and far more concerned about covering their own tails (see our post here).

Some might call it a band of “mercenaries in a parting of the ways”, others might call it “cowards running for their professional lives”. Either way, any efforts by these boys to cut a trail to safety from inevitable legal liability to their victims will probably have a fair bit to do with their insurer’s naturally jumpy attitude to RISK.

Insurers tend to get very twitchy about their exposure when smoking guns pop up; and leave them carrying the can for claims that will run into the 100s of $millions. STT thinks this is all shaping up as asbestos MKII.

smoking-gun

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. We need to move our super out of any fund that has anything to do with wind farms fast, as in yesterday !!!

  2. Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

    It is late and I have not read all of the post, but when you say that the NHMRC did not have time to read the report, my bullshit detector starts ringing.

    Why would someone not give it a read if, for no other reason than out of curiosity?

    If I was part of an investigative body, the first things I would tend to look towards would not be the obvious ie. anything from vested financial interest, but those who have no financial interest at stake, but an interest of a personal, health, mental well being.

    Why can’t public sector organisations see the obvious?
    Obviously, because they are corrupt or they have been corrupted.

    It does not matter, or should not matter what shade of language I use as a determination of my intellect or morality.

    I say to you all, the wind industry and all of its governance and public sector approval mechanisms are totally f&*^ing corrupt and will someday in the future be held to account.

    Make no mistake ‘Little Ted Kallis’ of the Ceres Project, you will be held to account.

  3. Thank you, STT, Dr Sarah, Ann Gardner, the two independent Senators, one from VIC, the great Greek from SA, and the rest, too many to mention, for keeping it in the face of the windweasel grubs.

    I may not be the sharpest tool in the tool box, but I’m not the bluntest in the tool box, either.

    Blind Freddy can see that there is, and has been, real problems with health issues caused by industrial wind turbines.

    If these windweasel grubs were not grubs, they would have done REAL studies of the health problems caused and found out the true picture.

    The fact that they are grubs, is going to cost them big bucks, I mean real big bucks. I could not wish for a nicer thing to happen to such a bunch of ferals. Shorten and his mob, Milne, Hansen-Young, CEC, the NHMRC, Simon Chapman, are all involved in this, up to their necks.

    Steven Cooper, you are a legend for what you have proven with these fans. A big thank you, this is not just Australia, this the planet, the big planet. Sir Steven, this is real science, this is really important stuff. Well done.

  4. Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    “GROUNDBREAKING Australian research has established a “cause and effect” existed between wind farms and health impacts on some nearby residents, a peer review by one of the world’s leading acoustic experts says.”

  5. One of the first lessons I learned when I first started working was: “When you’re up to your neck in **it, keep your mouth shut.”

    Seem like the windustry liars and cheats don’t know about this sound piece of advice. We need to give the scumbags even more rope – all the better to hang themselves 🙂 The end of this politically backed scam can’t come soon enough.

    Thank you Steven Cooper for conducting such an outstanding study providing irrefutable proof that some people CAN detect and be adversely affected by operating wind farms.

    The study vindicate’s my wife’s experience of being able to hear infrasound far below the level considered inaudible – she’s very sensitive to low frequency noise. She has been plagued by audible infrasound bombardment, under certain atmospheric conditions, since the winter of 2006. That coincided with a new wind farm being commissioned 40km from our off grid home in rural Wales, yet it took us 2 years to make that connection. We never even imagined at the outset that infrasound emitted by giant useless fans could be heard at those distances.

    Now that more wind farms are operational, at much closer distances to our home (nearest is currently 11km) , the LFN/ infrasound is detectable nearly all the time by my wife. She has even suffered several bouts of “wind turbine syndrome” – the first bout lasted over 1 month.

    Thank you also STT for writing outstanding commentary daily on the stories in the news.

  6. David Mortimer says:

    One has to wonder why the ABC is so pro wind farms? Is it perhaps that their superannuation is tied up with Industry Super Fund (AKA) Pacific Hydro? Pacific Hydro proudly boasts that some 5 million Australians own Cape Bridgewater wind farm. All this at the expense of the taxpayer.

    If this is the case, it would explain the ABC’s reluctance to say anything negative about wind.

    But wait until they find that they have been duped; and their hog’s trough has run dry and their super starts to evaporate, then watch them turn like a pack of hungry wolves and tear the wind industry to pieces.

    Can’t wait for the day!

  7. Thank you deeply for your erudite, concise and informative analysis STT. Your unflinching commentary is a compelling beacon of truth as always.

    Nothing less than a Royal Commission and the full force of the law is required to hold the abusers and criminals connected with this national and international cover up and systematic abuse of honest citizens to account. Starting with the NHMRC, industry and government’s corrupt conduct.

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