Although Dr. Colby professed throughout his testimony yesterday, at the Chatham Kent Tribunal, that he was in no way an activist for turbines, his view points, in addition to his association with CANWEA and AMWEA contravened that claim.
Dr. Colby has a huge repertoire of accomplishments, within his field of medicine, and is duly proud of his accomplishments, as he let the tribunal know. What he lacks however appears to be integrity, and an understanding of exactly what his role as Chief Medical Officer should be.
The good doctor believed very firmly that evidence based on medicine, one founded on the basis of facts as opposed to opinion was the only standard for determining whether or not turbines presented any health risks. Unfortunately, he did not supply any empirical evidence to support his claims to negate the health concerns; I imagine medical evidence didn’t apply to him or his opinions.
Instead he chose to denigrate those who have completed studies contrary to his opinion, such as the one completed by Dr. Nina Pierpont, whose report he said was ‘the worst selection bias’ that he had ever witnessed. He inferred that her involvement was rooted in the fact that one of her specialties is ornithology, and concluded his assault of her study by stating that in his opinion wind turbine syndrome does not exist. Did he prove his asseveration? No, of course not.
Dr. Colby spoke at length about the structural integrity of the wind turbines, and of how it is remotely possible that a blade could throw ice, or a tower could collapse, and of course in his opinion this would be very serendipitous. Akin to a natural disaster, such as an earth quake, or through vandalism, or some type of rare occurrence. He compared the structures integrity to that of buildings and bridges. Dr. Colby’s alleged knowledge of engineering standards was remarkable—considering he was at the hearing to discuss the health risks of turbines, as a medical doctor.
According to Dr. Colby, those who experience wind turbine syndrome are actually prone to suggestibility. He compared the health issues experienced by some to that of odour related vomiting; that it is the suggestion of the turbines that creates the syndrome, just as the introduction of an odour can stimulate the gag response. According to Dr. Colby, the suggestion of illness leads to the ‘nocebo affect,’ similar to the placebo affect, a symptom that does not exist. Another aspect of suggestibility, he concluded was the pejorative term ‘Industrial’ that is associated with Industrial Wind Turbines; just wind turbines would be much better, he stated. Another pejorative term that the Doctor dislikes is ‘noise,’ as he prefers to use sound stimulus. Although he admitted that he didn’t like the look of the turbines, he thought that people shouldn’t pretend that there are adverse health affects surrounding them. Not only are we, the public, very susceptible to pejorative terms, and suggestibility, we are prone to sensory integration dysfunction, which, according to Dr. Colby, causes us to manifest physical symptoms from a psychological cause. In other words those suffering presently are just down right crazy.
Dr. Colby also addressed the noise, or as he prefers ‘sound stimulus.’ The sound of the turbines is equivalent, according to the doctor, to that of a furnace fan, or a refrigerator motor, and nothing more. He did not supply the tribunal with any concrete evidence of what the sound levels are at ground level from varying distances from turbines. He did not site different wind conditions that produce different ‘sound stimulus levels, he merely spoke about how sound waves were transmitted through the air, and also informed the tribunal that a whisper would be approximately 35dB—very scientific and relevant. The sound of a wind turbine cannot harm human tissue, and therefore does not damage the structure of the ear—case closed. Although, he did state that noise creates annoyance, but according to him, there are many other factors that create annoyance, such as a dripping tap. Don’t they use dripping water as a form of torture? The turbines will only annoy us, if we let them. It’s all about attitude, according to Colby. Sleep disturbance is multifactoral, and the noise level of a normal urban environment is not enough to cause sleep disturbance. But what about a rural environment, where there are wind turbines? Is that enough to cause sleep disturbance? He didn’t address the issue that he was on hand to address, and flipped through an array of similes, provided for the entertainment of the tribunal.
Dr. Colby did agree that there is approximately 2.5% of the population that have a 12dB hearing acuity, which increases their sensitivity to noise; however, you can’t accommodate everyone. You wouldn’t build a storm sewer to accommodate the once of a lifetime storm, so why worry about the minority of the population, another unrelated comparison. Any sound studies that the Doctor did site were for transportation noise, or industrial noise. By extrapolating information from other sound sources, I assume his intention was to confuse the tribunal into thinking he had conducted actual studies about turbine noise.
Shadow flicker, he agreed was a visual stimulus, and only rare individuals are affected by shadow flicker. Epilepsy is triggered above 2.3 hertz, but turbines produce less than 2.3 hertz. According to Dr. Colby, it would take a series of turbines at the correct hertz for a person, who is staring directly at them to be affected by flicker. Again, where is the evidence to support this? Had he either conducted an actual study himself, he would have realized how wrong his assertions were.
Annoyance the doctor stated is not a disease. Why if it was a disease, he claimed, he would have it, along with thousands of others who get ‘annoyed.’ He was flippant and jovial in his delivery, which I believe was an insult to everyone in the room. He did believe that some people would definitely get annoyed by the turbines, but the key, according to this renowned Doctor, is to teach them how to cope. Coping skills, yes that’s it. That will be of definitive help to those currently suffering.
Mention was made by the Doctor, about the sensation of vibration that some people complain of, but he discounted the experience, as having nothing to do with the turbines themselves. According to Dr. Colby, vibration cannot penetrate interfaces, and described how vibration travels through water—very relevant. Again here, he volunteered his theory of how perception can be triggered, urging everyone to suppress the itch suggestion that he put forth. The vibration of wind turbines is not noticeable anyway, but how did he arrive at that information? We don’t know, as he did not provide empirical evidence to support his hypothesis. And mainly that is what he provided the tribunal with—his hypothesis, nothing more. A hypothesis is a concept that is not yet verified, and nothing that Dr. Colby provided to the tribunal came with verification.
Dr. Colby provided his follow up opinion in 2009, to his initial report, because he wanted to dispel the negative reactions of people from around the world. He wanted to prove that there was no causality between turbines and health issues. People believing that there is a relationship between the two doesn’t make it so. In fact, he believes that there is nothing to investigate regarding wind turbines and health issues. The expert panel, of which he was one, was comprised of individuals who were above reproach—even though they were bought by CANWEA and AMWEA.
To conclude, Dr. Colby loved to use similes, and had obviously consulted his thesaurus prior to testifying, but his evidence was lacking one thing—proof. He was unable to substantiate any of his claims with evidence. There had been no scientific studies to prove without a shadow of a doubt that wind turbines don’t cause harm. There were no statistics provided, and the body of Dr. Colby’s evidence rested on his attempt to disrepute other studies that negated his opinion, and those that are suffering with negative health issues related to wind turbines. He had the audacity to state that funding for wind turbine studies would take away money needed for other research.
According to Dr. Colby, ‘real problems’ such as health issues resulting from coal fired, and nuclear plants. Finally, when asked about the ‘quality of life’ definition stated by the World Health Association, he discounted their standard, stating that it was an unattainable ideal. An ideal that could not be realized, by anyone.
Frankly, Dr. Colby provided the tribunal with nothing more than his ‘expert’ opinion. He validated none of his claims, and most of his rhetoric was based on opinion and showmanship. Was he a wind turbine activist? Me thinks he protests too much. He had McGuinty stamped all over him, and probably the Suncor logo tattooed to his chest.