Academics clash over wind farms

Dr. Colby

Dr. McMurtry

By Jonathan Sher   Simcoe Reformer

They’re in a fight that could shape wind power in Ontario, billions of dollars of investment and the green reputation of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals.

Two UWO academics are clashing over wind farms, each accusing the other’s followers of demonizing their cause and bastardizing science.

A champion for those who believe wind turbines are making them sick, Dr. Bob McMurtry was dean of the medical school at the University of Western Ontario from 1992 to 1999.

His wind adversary is Dr. David Colby, an associate professor and medical officer of health in Chatham-Kent who believes the health link is more science fiction than science.

Their clash is more than academic: McMurtry expects both will end up as witnesses on opposing sides in what he hopes will be a landmark case challenging Ontario’s Green Energy Act, which threw open the door for wind farms as part of a plan to ween Ontario off coal-fired power plants.

While both say they respect each other personally, neither can fathom the position of the other and each says he has been vilified by those on the opposing side.

“This was a vendetta against me,” says Colby, who defended himself and his medical licence in the face of complaints he was a paid lackey of the wind industry, complaints dismissed by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Colby says he became the target of those he calls anti-wind activists after he was asked by politicians in Chatham-Kent to review medical literature to see if there was evidence turbines harmed people’s health — he concluded there was none.

“Hostility would be a good word to describe the reception to my work,” he says.

McMurtry, too, says he has been attacked, accused of being an anti-environmental Neanderthal when the truth is the opposite.

“They libel and slander their opponents,” he says of advocates for industrial wind farms.

McMurtry says he’s concerned about climate change and pollution but contends coal-powered plants in Ontario are a tiny part of the problem and could easily be closed without building wind farms.

Beneath the heated rhetoric is a disagreement over science itself. While both agree some people near wind turbines complain of health issues, from there the two men venture down wildly divergent paths.

McMurtry believes turbines are the most likely culprit to ailments suffered by those close to them, the most common being the inability to sleep well, which increases the risk of chronic and deadly disease.

Turbines emit low-pitched sounds, some so low they’re sensed only as vibration. Some turbine opponents argue those vibrations disrupt the body’s normal rhythms and cause a long list of ailments. An American doctor, Nina Pierpont, reported complaints of headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate, irritability and problems with concentration and memory.

Despite those who say there’s a link, the Ontario government has given its blessing to a wind industry that may build $20 billion worth of turbines across the province and in its lakes.

McMurtry says Queen’s Park should instead spend $1 million on research to establish how far back turbines need to be to safeguard health. Regulations require a 550-metre setback but McMurtry suspects a two-kilometre buffer is needed.

McMurtry is passionate about his cause. A former missionary, he says he’s spent 3,000 hours on the issue and he created a Youtube video near his home in eastern Ontario’s Prince Edward County, where wind farms are planned for the land and Lake Ontario.

“All of us need to act to oppose this madness,” he says on the video.

Colby sees madness, too — but from anti-wind activists.

The so-called ailments are common and have many causes unrelated to wind turbines, he says.

Colby reviewed studies of turbines twice –first for Chatham- Kent council, then at the request of wind power associations, the latter as part of an international panel of scientists.

Peer-reviewed studies found no link between ailments and turbines except one: A small number of people become upset by the presence of turbines and those feelings created stress that can contribute to their symptoms, he says.

38 thoughts on “Academics clash over wind farms

  1. Another Sycophant….Pay me and I’ll tell you whatever you want….

  2. One is the “organ grinder’s Monkey” and the other one is actually a real person who cares about his oath he took…..the first promise of the Hippocratic Oath goes like this:

    “I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”

    The Monkey can’t read…….

  3. “Colby reviewed studies of turbines twice –first for Chatham- Kent council, then at the request of wind power associations, the latter as part of an international panel of scientists.”

    Ah yes! He reviewed studies which actually did not study anything. I believe I read those same studies and laughed — thinking: “How can anyone take these studies seriously!”

    As I recall all those studies are on the CANWEA site and can be reviewed for your enlightenment.

    As for those studies: It’s not like anybody actually measured anything — although they did speculate and calculate and I guess that would be consistent with current “climate science”. Or perhaps the Good Dr. Colby is thinking of something that was never revealed.

    As I understand it there is no current accepted methodology for measuring infra-sound from turbines — so exactly which study did he read?

    Very puzzling!

  4. So far there’s been 4 studies that are commonly quoted by proponents (Colby’s Chatham, Colby’s AWEA/CanWEA, King’s CMOH, and Australia’s NHMRC) and none of them have talked to even one victim, nor any victim’s doctor. Instead, they concentrate on the 2 Swedish studies by Pedersen and the Netherlands study by Van den Berg, none of which were, by the authors’ own statements, a study of health issues.

    What I can’t figure out is if Colby et al are being disingenuous or dull.

  5. There are many amatomical differences in human heads.

    The size, shape and density of the skull bones. The amount of tissue and thickness of tissue surrounding the ears. The size and shape of the outer ear. The size and shape of the ear canal. The, size shape and thickness of the eardrum. Size, shape and thickness of the inner ear organs. Left ear can be different than right ear. Nerves can be different.

    All these are factors in human hearing. However, it’s way too expensive to study these issues and a lot cheaper to just deny the whole problem of wind turbine noise even exists.

  6. As someone who reviews and edits medical research for a living, there is one striking thing about the Colby et al. review paper: they actually concluded by saying that not only were there no health problems, there should not be another penny spent on research into the possibility of turbine-related health problems.
    That is absolutely stunning in a so-called medical paper. Calculated to play into the hands of the politicians who for sure don’t want studies done.
    I think Dr Colby is incorrect in his statement that complaints were dismissed by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons; it is my understanding that they cautioned him not to present himself as an expert in health effects from industrial wind turbines, as his area of interest is public health and infectious disease.

  7. Well done northgrowerwindturbines!!!

    Seems to me that if no or very little research has been done on Wind Turbine Syndrome there will be no or very rew research papers to review.

    Just as an aside to the hearing issues most people do not have matching eyes either.

    The Boston Red Sox kept secret the fact that Ted Williams had perfectly matched eyes with 20/20 vision. So he could see the ball much better than most major league players could.

  8. Guess what?
    Dr. McMurtry has spoken with victims, as has Nina Pierpont as has Dr. Nissenbaum…etc. etc.
    Dr. Colby has not contacted one victim to listen to them, nor has Dr. Arlene King, nor our ministers or ministries…etc. etc. This is a global phenomenon!
    It appears when the wind industry or the government is funding the study, they get the answers THEY want. Weak reviews with contradictory conclusions, and they DO NOT speak with the families.
    Pretty obvious what is happening
    Follow the link to view a professional analysis for the CanWEA/AWEA, Australian and Dr. King CMOH literature reviews.

  9. Dr. Colby speaks very rashly and in absolutes, which is unusual in an academic. As there has been no definitive study made, and he interviewed no victims, his dismissal of their symptoms is reminiscent of the “The science is settled” approach to issues. As we are all finding out, “science” is never settled and always open to new findings. A group which is anxious to close the issue prematurely has something to hide from closer scrutiny.

  10. And the Toronto Sun weighs in…

    AND SHUT UP! HEAR THAT! You;’re upsetting Dr. Colby!

    “Colby defends his knowledge of turbines and points out that his adversary, McMurtry, was trained in orthopedic surgery.

    He also dismisses as a waste of tax dollars any further research on the health effects of turbines.

    With Canada’s health care already suffering from a lack of funding, it’s not worth it to spend more to prove what’s already clear just to “shut up a bunch of activists who probably wouldn’t be satisfied anyways,” Colby says.

    He continues to have to defend his expertise — the person who lodged the complaint has appealed to the College’s health professions appeal and review board. “

  11. To Dr. Colby et al,
    Here is an invitation to visit a few of the affected houses in Clear Creek at 4:00 am when the appropriate wind conditions exist and the vibrations generated by these “Wind Power Plants” can be felt inside and outside the building.
    Come see for yourself – you may change your opinion.

  12. This post makes mention of two Doctors, one who has taken the time to investigate IWT’s and the other who has not. If one really wants to understand the mind of the other, then one only has to read a book by Paul Babiak Ph.D. and Robert D. Hare Ph.D, titled SNAKES IN SUITS, WHEN PSYCHOPATHS GO TO WORK.

    Simply put, we have one of these Doctors who likes to hear himself speak just because he thinks he knows everything about everything, rather than to agree to disagree. If this Doctor who dismisses health problems associated to/with IWT’s then he should not have a problem, like TTB makes mention of, living in one of the homes, of one of those, whose so-called ailments are common and have many causes unrelated to wind turbines.

    This Doctor, by virtue of his opposition to the other is just advertising his services, “my creditability as doctor has to be worth something”.

  13. m,
    The same tired assertions,
    “… most doctors know that this will be an exhausting venture that may yield nothing.” – really, that’s a rather large assumption.
    ” It will end up being more like a billion dollars.”
    Gross exaggeration – a real, evidence based study will compare exposed populations to similar unexposed populations and determine a proper setback that doesn’t cause clinical annoyance – pretty simple and easy to do. As rural landowner who refused to sign, I expect reasonable protection from reasonable regulations – not numbers picked because they conveniently fit the lot surveys of rural Ontario.
    Funny, isn’t it, that CANWEA is sitting as a friend of the court with the MOE. Collusion maybe???

  14. Sam, I think you can reasonably conclude that if a family has abandoned their home and are paying rent in town, while still paying a mortgage on the empty house, that the abandoned property would be a good place to start the study. I would prefer not to comment on the methodology of an epidemiological study, as that is best left to specialists. As to the lab rat study, I have yet to meet one who can describe symptoms, LOL. Whenever I meet someone who discourages people from looking into issues, I always wonder what it is that they are trying to hide.

  15. Sam,
    Two years ago, before the IWTs were put into operation here in Clear Creek, most of us were very much PRO-Wind.
    Now, trying to live near these power plants has become a torture.
    Do you have any ITWs operating within 1km of your residence?

  16. Sam:

    It is possible to measure infra-sound and audible sound properly. There have been discussion in the past on this issue — right here.

    Ignorance can be cured — start reading.

  17. Colby ….from Chatham Kent….where hundreds of turbines are going up as I write this. Hmmm….who is buttering his bread?

  18. Sam:

    Be as discouraged as you like. I have no concern for your “feelings” over the issue.

    BTW — have you looked for a study relating to “degree of penetration of bullets vs purported health issues”? — that too is an intriguing issue — nothing to do with this blog though!

    At to this question…
    “I agree we can measure infra-sound but how do you correlate IWT infra-sound to health issues”

    How would we know if people WILL NOT measure it. Then of course it is impossible. But only on that basis.

    Are you concerned that we need more energy sources because the constantly renewing mineral deposits of the mineral OIL will run out? I don;t think so…

    … Or are you more concerned that dumping more CO2 (a trace gas of less than .04% of the atmosphere) — a plant food will pollute your rutabagas?

    Maybe somebody else can help you with those concerns…

    But try here first…

    Best wishes.

  19. It’s obvious that Sam has little knowledge of human or animal physiology.

    When sound and /or vibrations constantly stimulate nerve cells the nerve cells get “tired”. This to say that fatigued nerve cells don’t function very well or can even shut down.

    Some peoples nerve cells tolerate over or constant stimulation better than other peoples nerve cells do. You are dealing here with genetic variations among humans.

    Have tried to explain this in a very simple way.

  20. Sam:

    I group you in with the Luddites and Science Deniers that run this province and believe that a gas that represents less than 0.04% of the atmosphere will destroy mankind and civilization.

    These are the same Science Deniers who believe that “what you cannot hear, cannot harm”. If that is the case why do they want us to believe that something we cannot see, hear, touch or smell that is present in only trace quantities will destroy the earth and all upon it? Have you ever thought about that?

    The best minds that science can offer cannot offer anything other than computer models to “prove” that CO2 has a measurable effect.

    A modestly talented scientist could measure the infra-sound from all the wind turbines in the province, do the statistics and relate it any disease — perceived or real. Yet this is not done? Why? Science denial for a political goal.

    When you can reconcile these two positions then you too will become Premier Sam and will save the World! Till then you will be a Science Denier and Luddite — like our leaders.

    Now as to “belief” — where is the place for “belief” in Science. The CO2 site offered numbers. Many attempts to educate you prove that you have no facility with numbers — and therein lies the problem — with you, and with our leaders.

    Peace be unto you Sam (or is the name Dalton?)!

  21. Sam,

    At least David provides substance to his claims.

    You on the otherhand seem to be reacting here purely on faith. It’s funny how you even admit this by stating that “history’ will prove who is right.

    A lot riding on this politically driven “theory” (i.e. guess), isn’t there?

    What if you’re wrong?

  22. Sam,

    During WW2 and after the Germans cut off the Russian oil supplies, Stalin ordered Russian geoligists to find new sources of oil. They did just that but the oil was at great depths in the earth. Their conclusion was that oil was not a fossil fuel and their was lots of oil to be had

    Like most Russian information this was kept a secret from the rest of the world for many years.

    Now this information is out to the general public almost half centruy later.

  23. The courts are going to sort out how well founded the science our provincial government used to determines distances for Industrial Wind Turbines is.
    This government has bluffed long enough.

  24. Sam:

    Do you get your science from newspapers? Maybe you should look for the original article — pay the $20 and see what it really says.

    In the meantime consider that the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is a hotbed of warmist scientists.

    Do you know the difference between a theory and a hypothesis?

    What was a theory? What war? What was your point?

    Oh never mind — what’s the point!

  25. Sam, please read over this web site, you will find that there are people from all walks of life that are coming to this web site to discover the truth about wind turbines and wind power. When you first entered your comment, you started out asking a question and then you kind of jumped the fence. While there you posted another comment and then you disappeared.
    When you reappeared, your back on the right side of the fence asking yet, another question, and you vent a little and you disappear. Forty-three minutes later your back over on the other side. If your interested in this site because you want to know as much as you can about wind turbines and wind energy please read the older posts, sit back and take in the knowledge that can be found of the many aspects wind energy and wind turbines.
    Once everyone comes to understand what a farce wind energy is, it maybe to late. If your interests on this site are not knowledgeable and or educational in nature, when you disappear, stay there.

  26. For those who care..


    The spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum have been analyzed by chemical thermodynamic stability theory….

    … For experimental verification of the predictions of the theoretical analysis, special high-pressure apparatus has been designed which permits investigations at pressures to 50 kbar and temperatures to 1500°C, and which also allows rapid cooling while maintaining high pressures. The high-pressure genesis of petroleum hydrocarbons has been demonstrated using only the solid reagents solid iron oxide, FeO, and marble, CaCO3, 99.9% pure, wet with triple-distilled water.


  27. Sam,

    The Russians won WW2 in Europe and took Berlin. Then we had the Cold War during which time Russia was an almost closed country that did very little trading in any goods with the rest of the world. Russia was a closed country.

    The oil crises of the 1970’s was due to OPEC and not any shortage of oil in the world.

    Russia has lots of oil now and is prepared to sell it to the rest of the world at the right price. But Europe dosen’t want to buy Russian oil for fear of becoming dependent on Russia.

    In 1943/44 at a conference in the middle east Pres. Franklin Roosevelt promised the Saudis that the U.S. would buy their oil. This agreement is still in force.

    By the way Sam,the rest of the allies held back their armies so as not to incur too many lost lives trying to capture what was left of Germany. They let Russia take the troop loses.

  28. Sam,

    The Cold War ended because the Russian economy collapsed due to years of communist economic theories and the damage this did to their country and to the rest of eastern Europe under their control.

    Russia did not collapse due to lack of oil and gas.

  29. Sam, peak oil is irrelevant to Ontario electricity policy – except in that we are counting on low pricing for natural gas to continue as the small cabal uniting fascists and Charlatans reclassify it as a ‘clean’ source.
    I am a warmer.
    But it is intriguing that the weather records for Peterborough and Wiarton show the summertime highs aren’t changing since data started (in Wiarton’s case back in 1890) – the overall warming comes during darkness (nights are warmer, and winter has warmed far more than sumemer). Which actually sounds like another impact other than CO2 composition to me. As smog days decline, so did average temperature.
    The 10 year moving average has been trending down the past couple of years now in southwestern Ontario. There is an act of faith required to believe it is currently hotter than ever when, if you’ve paid attention while alive, you’d know it isn’t the case at all in the immediate environment.
    There was a study a number of years ago – on studies. As I recall, in all but one case the outcome of the study agreed with the position of the group funding the study.
    The exception was PETA and circus animals.
    This article is scientifically interesting in updating the hypothesis that opinions are like arseholes – everybody has got one.
    We should revise that to experts are like opinions – every arsehole has got one.

    Scientists who makes proclamations from a chair which aren’t supported by hard data, or tested, are people we need to ignore.

    The oil example is interesting. You could collect some data on real estate around IWTs, and you’d find just as the market has discounted that oil replenishes itself quickly, so has the market decided IWTs are harmful.

  30. Sam,
    Again! – Do you have any ITWs operating within 1 or 2 kms of your residence???
    If not, why don’t you purchase on of the many homes here in Clear Creek. Homes that have been for sale and are not selling since the IWTs started to roar.
    Or else look at or comment on the real issues which are our wasteful lifestyle, mismanagement and greed.
    And don’t listen to the phony GREENs who are financially benefiting from this dilemma (maybe your are on them) at the rate payers expense.
    Over and out!!!

  31. This is my last post to “Sam”

    You call the fact that the U.N. is trying to take over Governance of the World a “Conspiracy”?

    Now you’ve declared to us exactly what you are: either a pawn for the Green Industry or part of the Scam that has destroyed Rural Ontario…either way you look at it, your in the wrong arena here for any further dialogue……… say Agenda 21 is a “conspiracy”?……….

    Sad to say for you and your Green Buddies…….we now know the true reasons behind the Wind and solar push and it ain’t to “help the people” … is being pushed on us to destroy our lands and homes, making them unfit to live in, to force us out of Rural Ontario into high density housing in the cities and leave the natural lands we vacated for the greedy disgusting power brokers you support!

    Now leave this forum before you get totally embarrassed for just being stupid!

  32. Sam:

    Conspiracy theory? Where did I espouse one of them? Are you certain your reading skills are up to par.

    But tell you what don’t bother. I don’t think many of us care what you think anymore.

    Maybe you should hang out on climateprogress and a pro-wind turbine site — more your speed.

    Don’t even imagine you are opening up our minds to your viewpoint (whatever it is????) when you cannot do math or read scientific papers or comment clearly and cogently on government policy.

    Peace be unto you Sam-Dalton — you will need it!

    Now take your hands away from the keyboard and save your efforts…

  33. While I am generally uncomfortable with discouraging people from posing questions and differing opinions, I believe, in this case, Sam is being deliberately obtuse. However, we must always keep in mind that discovering that the organizations. authority figures, government agencies and media personalities we were brought up to respect and admire can no longer be relied upon to tell us the truth, is a very bewildering experience. We all went through the sense of shock that people entrusted with the public good are selling out their fellow citizens and lying about it, consequences be damned. Financial institutions are blatantly looting the public purse and no one stops them. The IPCC, in collaboration with banks, NGOs, governments and monied individuals, attempts to frighten the people with alarmist predictions in the hopes that they will hand over their sovereignty and wealth to power-hungry UN bureaucrats dreaming of global government. All this is done with the aid of a compliant media and scientific organizations dependent upon the prolific grant money. It is a hell of a shock to wake up one day and realize that you must question everything that you read and see on television and not everyone can come to terms with this new reality. I am afraid there will always be people who prefer to deny what is happening and so be it. The rest of us just remain vigilant and vocal.

  34. We should place wind turbines in every local pasture and have the landowner pay for it as penance for the loss of biodiversity and the release of methane and c02 caused by livestock grazing and monoculture.

    The land between the towers can then be used for growing soybeans for tofu production.

    If you don’t like tofu, you will after you spend some time in the “Green Citizen Re-Education Center”, paid for by the repossessed farms of backwards agrarians and resistant landowners of windy ridges and ski resorts.

    Do your part for the environment! Pro turbine! Go Green!

  35. Turbinesquad:

    I had given up on the idea of seeing Turbines in Toronto… but the ideas you present make this a winner — especially for High Park. Turbines, Soybeans, Tofu and maybe a a few patches for sprouts and organic lettuce between the towers should do the job.

    Add to that the obvious attraction of the towers and the swooshy noises and you have “Instant Tourist Attraction”. We will probably even get tourists from Denmark who wonder if there is indeed any value to these towers.

    Make it so!

  36. Donald Thomas at Waubra, in Victoria, Australia, lives three and a half kilometres away from them, and gets sick from the noise of the turbines. He spoke at the Moorabool Shire Council meeting about it. And at first he thought, turbines were a good thing. Noel Dean can’t work his farm at Waubra, he gets so sick. Trish Godfrey’s place at Waubra was bought out by Acciona. the wind company, after she was interviewed on tv’s ‘Stateline’ about being sick from the turbines. I suggest Dr Colby try to live there for a while – a long while. People get migraines, heart palpitations, and other effects. Trish Godfrey called it: ‘like motion sickness that never goes away.’ And we haven’t yet worked out why bats, with their sensitive sonar ‘hearing’ are dying by the millions at wind farms. So is it so very hard to believe that we are suffering, too.
    The cash-cow that is wind so-called energy has a far-reaching effect. The wind industry’s conspiracy of silence can’t for ever ignore people’s suffering when they are living near turbines. And let’s face it – can you believe in this age of advanced technology that all we can come up with for renewable energy is those enormous dinosaurs of technology, the turbines that use up so much power in their construction, and emit an enormous amount of greenhouse gases in their manufacture, especially in their 600-tonne+ concrete bases – that are left there forever.
    Any aliens that should ever come here, when this planet is dead, will die laughing at what we have done to our earth all over the globe, when they see the derelict, monstrous, steel structures. Or they may just cry. I call it: ‘Con with the Wind.’

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