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Steven Cooper: some absurd statements and a strange report

I first wrote this page following a spate of unjustifiable claims against wind farms based on a strange report written by Mr Cooper. I added to it when Mr Cooper was reported to have made some absurd statements about wind turbines at a hearing about a proposed wind farm in October 2018. It seems that Mr Cooper has very little compunction about making false statements when it comes to opposing wind power developments.

Acoustician Steven Cooper produced a report in February 2015 concerning a wind farm at Cape Bridgewater in south-western Victoria, Australia. The report concerned six self-selected subjects and the impact a nearby wind farm might be having on them. Many other people who lived nearby and had not complained of health impacts from the wind farm were not involved in the study.

While Cooper stated in his report, p 218:

"This study did not include any testing in relation to sleep disturbance or health effects"
and on ABC TV's Media Watch Cooper said:
"No, it's not correct... You can't say that noise affects health from this study"
the report has been greedily grasped by several anti-wind power people in Australia who have claimed that it proves that wind turbines cause health problems.

Written 2015/02/26, modified 2018/11/21
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David Clarke) – ©
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I would not normally devote a page to what deserves to be an obscure technical report, but the amount of misleading attention it has received justified a dedicated page.

Mr Cooper increased the justification for this page when he made some absurd statements about wind farms in October 2018.



Strange report

In spite of the above statements by Cooper, Graham Lloyd in The Australian, the anonymous author of Stop These Things, the self-styled 'Waubra Foundation' and radio shock jock Alan Jones have all tried to link wind turbines to ill health based on Cooper's report.

 
Wind turbines at Cape Bridgewater
Cape Bridgewater
I visited Cape Bridgewater in March 2008
What the whole circus – or perhaps 'feeding frenzy' is more appropriate – shows is the desperation of the anti-wind power people to have some evidence, no matter how tenuous, to link wind turbines with ill-health when all the credible research shows that wind turbines harm no-one's health.

To a layman like me Cooper's report seems highly technical but also inconsequential; it is very hard to see exactly what he believes his research has demonstrated. If I was asked to characterise it with one word I would probably choose 'vague'. (It needs to be mentioned that Mr Cooper has a long history of trying to link wind turbines with ill-health.)

Before and after Cooper's study the fact is that no one has identified a credible mechanism by which wind turbines could make people ill.

Cooper wrote about 'sensations' perceived by the subjects, but he didn't link these sensations to any particular sort of sound, infrasound or anything else coming from the turbines.

Of particular interest, it seems that about half of the 'sensations' were reported when the wind turbines were not working.

For more on Cooper's report I refer readers to a piece written by Jacqui Hoepner and Will J Grant and published in The Conversation on 2015/01/22. It was titled "Wind turbine studies: how to sort the good, the bad, and the ugly".

Claims made by Graham Lloyd regarding Cooper's report were deconstructed on Media Watch, 2015/02/16.

The lack of specificity in Cooper's connecting of whatever was coming from the wind turbines to the subject's sensations rather brought to mind a satirical page I wrote some time ago: Diabolical wind turbine rays.

 
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Absurd statements

Waterloo Wind Farm
Wind farm
This wind farm is three kilometres from the township of Waterloo. I've slept beneath two of the turbines on different nights; good night's sleep both times. I've failed to definitely hear the turbines from the township on about ten visits; once I thought I may have heard them but there was too much noise from nearby birds to be sure.
In October 2018 the South Australian State Commission Assessment Panel conducted a public hearing about the proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park at the Port Pirie Yacht Club.

Several statements Mr Cooper was reported to have made were quiet wrong to the point of being absurd. He was reported to have said that "audible and non-audible noise from wind farms could cause headaches, aching chests and legs, nausea, irritability and disorientation among nearby residents".

Mr Cooper's statements were reported, uncritically, in two of the local newspapers, the Northern Argus and the Flinders News.

Mr Cooper had a letter published in both newspapers on 2018/11/14 claiming that he had not said that wind turbines could cause headaches, aching chests and legs, nausea, irritability and disorientation.

However, in the same letters Mr Cooper continued to misrepresent the facts, ascribing findings to a World Health Organisation report that were not present in that report; see below.

Wind turbines do not cause ill-health

Teresa Simonetti, Sydney Medical School with Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health University of Sydney have listed at least 236 symptoms that have been blamed on wind turbines. Mr Cooper got in on this act saying that "audible and non-audible noise from wind turbines could cause headaches, aching chests and legs, nausea, irritability and disorientation among nearby residents".

On the other hand, Dr Fiona Crichton has conducted research that indicated the expectations can produce symptoms when people have been told that they have been subjected to non-audible noise that may harm them. Professor (now Professor Emeritus) Simon Chapman with Fiona Crichton have written a book titled "Wind turbine syndrome : a communicated disease" which can be found on the Internet.

Ill health blamed on wind turbines is a fiction; I have written at some length on the matter elsewhere on this site. "Wind Turbine Syndrome" is a delusion that ran its course from about 2010 to 2014; very few people believe it any more. The delusion is largely to be blamed on lazy, unthinking, irresponsible and sensation-seeking journalists.

Wind turbines do not cause people to abandon their homes

 

Sleeping under turbines

In order to find out for myself the truth about wind turbine noise I have slept under wind turbines many times. I had a good night's sleep every time.
At the hearing Mr Cooper irresponsibly and dishonestly "warned of 'ghost towns' around wind farms". He gave Waterloo as an example of a ghost town that "had been created ... after residents had abandoned their homes."

Waterloo is a very small town about three kilometres from the nearest turbines of the Waterloo Wind Farm. Many, perhaps most, towns the size of Waterloo or even considerably bigger are suffering from loss of residents; people just don't want to live in very small towns that lack services. I have visited Waterloo about ten times trying to hear the turbines from there; not once have I definitely heard them from the township.

One chapter in the book by Chapman and Crichton mentioned above showed that there is no convincing evidence that anyone has abandoned their home due to wind turbines in Australia. I have written about the claim on another page on this site.

I have not heard of any other town in Australia that anyone, however imaginative, has claimed to 'become a ghost town' due to a nearby wind farm.

It is nothing short of disgusting for a man in Mr Cooper's position, who passes himself off as an expert, to be so careless with the truth.

I have written elsewhere that for a person in a position of power to knowingly lie in order to slow the transition to renewable energy is a terrible crime; the consequences of climate change will be very severe and will impact all future generations. Perhaps Mr Cooper believes what he says, as absurd as his statements may be.



More misrepresentation by Mr Cooper on 2018/11/14

Mr Cooper had a letter published in both the Flinders News and Northern Argus on 2018/11/14 in which he said that the World Health Organisation “updated its Noise Guidelines ... to include wind turbine noise exposure as a risk to health”. This is not true. What the WHO report said was, in summary, that there was no evidence to connect wind turbines to adverse health other than ‘low quality’ evidence linking wind turbine noise to annoyance.

I’ve written more on what the WHO report had to say about the matter on another page on this site. That page also contains a link to the WHO report.






Poor journalism

The spreading of lies such as those repeated by 'Doctor Noise' in the Northern Argus, Recorder and Flinders News in October 2018 is harmful. The more often lies are repeated the more people believe them.

Am I alone in believing that a responsible journalist should not repeat outrageous statements without making some attempt to check on their truth? And then warning readers that they are falsehoods?

I have written another page on this site about poor journalism doing great harm and having many victims.

 
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Links

External links

Steven Cooper threatens to sue Media Watch for misrepresentation, written by Michael Safi, 2015/02/23, published in The Guardian.

A piece written by Jacqui Hoepner and Will J Grant and published in The Conversation on 2015/01/22, titled "Wind turbine studies: how to sort the good, the bad, and the ugly".

Claims made by Graham Lloyd regarding Cooper's report were deconstructed on Media Watch, 2015/02/16.

On this site

A discussion on how, generally, opposition to coal is based on truth while opposition to wind power is based on lies.

The anonymous writer of Stop These Things, a very dishonest anti-wind power site, sees Mr Cooper as some sort of hero.

A list of peer-reviewed articles showing no adverse health effects from wind farms

How could wind turbines make people ill? What possible mechanism is there?

Teresa Simonetti, Sydney Medical School with Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health University of Sydney have listed at least 236 symptoms that have been blamed on wind turbines.

Wind power and health

Sleeping under turbines

'Waubra Foundation'; an organisation trying to convince people that wind turbines make people sick and using the name Waubra against the wishes of the people of that town.

Poor journalism does great harm and has many victims.

Greatest crime in the history of humanity.



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