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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

James Delingpole: A ludicrous joke of a man

Finally, James Delingpole has read a scientific paper it seems. No matter that it is over twenty years old though, and also more than adequately supplanted by subsequent research. It is ultimately quite sensible therefore to regard his views on so-called adverse health effects from wind turbines as little more than delusion. 

So James Delingpole is actually starting to read academic papers now is he? After having admitted that he doesn’t read scientific papers, he has now dredged up a paper by N. D. Kelly from 1987 concerning so-called infrasound from wind turbines. Never mind that this paper is now over twenty years old and has therefore been supplanted by considerable subsequent discussion on this subject, but never mind, at least its something, anything to continue his deluded and frantic assault on the wind energy sector.

As one of the comments following his article in The Telegraph makes quite clear, the Australian government has carried out substantial research into the claims of anti-wind propagandists that wind turbines generate adverse health effects from infrasound. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) conducted a thorough review of the scientific literature on this subject in order to determine whether there is a link between wind turbines and adverse health effects. The review didn’t just consider infrasound noise but also investigated noise, electromagnetic interference, shadow flicker and blade glint. It decided ultimately that there was no published scientific evidence to positively substantiate such claims.

In 2010 the NHMRC further published a statement presenting the findings of the review. This concluded that at the time of the review “there is currently insufficient published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.” Even so, it nevertheless recommended that “relevant authorities should take a precautionary approach” and that “people who believe they are experiencing any health problems should consult their GP promptly.” The latter two statements aren’t of course any implication on the part of the council that there could be a link, but merely the sensible recommendation that a precautionary principle be adopted by relevant concerns anyway. I wish the mobile phone industry would take such an approach as we in this society are constantly bombarded by energy waves from the mobile phone industry, but as it happens in this sector also there has been deep discussion and scientific investigation of the possible effects on human health from mobile phones. I haven’t heard of Delingpole making such a fuss about mobiles though.

Further on in his article, Delingpole states: “The wind industry has resisted demands from campaigners to investigate this problem further”, but there again, why should they have to when the NHMRC has already conducted an extensive investigation of the matter? In fact, in 2011 NHMRC was continuing to investigate the matter, rather than dropping it and moving on to something else. It further convened a Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group consisting of experts in skin cancer, sleep medicine, psychology, epidemiology, preventative medicine, population health, acoustics, noise and vibration and  neuroscience.

Of these, Professor Ronald Grunstein is a staff specialist physician in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital with a strong interest in sleep health and the metabolic and neurobiological effects of sleep loss. He also has an honorary appointment in respiratory and sleep medicine at St Vincents Hospital Sydney. Dr Norm Broner has over 30 years of consulting experience in Acoustics, Noise and Vibration and has been heavily involved in the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements and with the preparation of Environmental Management plans. Peter Mitchell has spent four years researching the technical characteristics of wind power generation and founded the Waubra Foundation, an independent organisation which was created specifically to investigate the health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines and other industrial sites and to facilitate properly reviewed, independent research into their claims. His work also includes assisting with investigations of wind turbine noise emissions, pre-construction noise impact assessment and post construction noise compliance.

Now, I am, unfortunately, not a scientist myself, but from where I am standing that is a lot of rather quite impressive experience gathered together in one organisation. James Delingpole however, is, like me, although considerably more advanced in his career than me I am dismayed to say, a writer and journalist. He is a libertarian conservative, which just about tells you everything you need to know in the space of just two words, and appears not to have any real scientific knowledge whatsoever. Indeed, back in 2011, he was even forced to admit it on TV.

“It’s not my job to sit down and read peer-reviewed papers” he spluttered on an episode of BBC’s Horizon programme, “because I simply do not have the time; I don’t have the expertise.”

Oh, but he does have a big mouth, that I will concede, and I am not the only one to share that belief either it seems, Sunny Hundal on the Liberal Conspiracy website got it absolutely right when he referred to Delingpole as “a ludicrous joke” of a man.

Delingpole, in my view, is just the kind of ignorant deluded twerp that most sensible people prefer to keep away from. The best you can say of him really is that he is, and will probably continue to be, a “ludicrous joke”.

Unfortunately that also makes him a veritable pain in the arse.   

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