Denier comment of the day October 28, 2012

Actually, this comment should go in the running for comment of the year. It comes courtesy of Viv Forbes, regular contributor to the Climate Sceptics Party’s official blog. This one, is so mindnumbingly moronic I have to wonder if Viv has taken up smoking crack. Get ready, brace yourself, wear headgear. The topic? Wind farms.

Wind turbines work by extracting kinetic energy from the wind. To extract significant energy in any particular location, there needs to be an almost impenetrable thicket of these whirling scythes. This has three adverse consequences – it changes the local climate, takes a terrible toll on birds and bats, and the throbbing noise pollutes the local environment.

On the surface this is pretty benign in that its the usual sort of nonsense put forward by these idiots but on reading further it started to shape up as beyond moronic especially the reference to the effects on climate but I’ll get to that in a moment. First, Let’s look at the claim that wind turbines exact a “terrible toll on birds and bats”. The sources provided by Viv are here and here and here. Two of these link to a fringe bird lover society claiming to have international memberships and connections. It also alleges lots of scientific evidence for their claims yet have no peer-reviewed and published evidence to support these claims. A look at the layout of their website and the kind of language they employ, you could be forgiven for thinking you were on a regular denier website. The other links to the American Bird Conservancy. These guys are an awesome conservation group who do a lot of good work raising awareness about the plight of birds in the USA. A quick search of their site revealed this table.

Table from American Bird Conservancy highlighting numbers of bird deaths through collision with various man-made structures.


As you can see the very source provided by Viv Forbes shows just how relatively insignificant wind turbines are compared to other man-made structures. What pisses me off the most about deniers like Viv Forbes and the Climate Sceptics Party and their ilk is they feign environmental concern for bats and birds when in fact that are just using bats and birds as political tools to put forward their idiotic position. The fact of the matter is that cars, buildings, power lines, pesticides and feral cats kill far more birds and bats than wind turbines.  This study estimated bird deaths attributable to buildings as high as 975 million birds per year in the USA.  Even barbed wire fences get a mention. Will I see an a post from Viv Forbes denigrating cars or buildings out of concern for flying wildlife? Highly unlikely. Why not just be honest and admit they don’t like wind turbines because it offends their idiotic ideology instead of trying to greenwash their argument? The answer of course is that intellectual honesty is difficult when you don’t have an intellect.

Next, the “throbbing noise” bullshit. Viv makes this claim and provides a link.

Residents as far as 10km from the nearest wind turbine are affected by infra-sound and low frequency noise from the turbine. Unable to live in their homes, and unable to sell them, they become homeless “wind farm refugees”. 

Here is the link. It is essentially a very poorly sourced letter of demand to “relevant authorities” by some mob called the Waubra Foundation. The letter is hilariously OTT and well worth a read if you need cheering up…(and these people call us alarmists). The reference list is….well….I’ll let you decide. The only actual peer-reviewed document in it is criticised because it refers to “symptoms” as “annoyances”. Apparently whichever scientist or clinician  wrote it wasn’t OTT enough for these nutcases. But do wind turbines make people sick? I doubt it. Undoubtedly there are people presenting at doctors with some sort of symptoms they are blaming on wind turbines but one has to wonder how many of these are symptoms of something else like stress and how many are due to the nocebo effect. The thing I always find amazing is that the property owners who have wind turbines on their properties never get sick. Might have something to do with the financial benefits and good feeling knowing you are doing something fantastic for the environment.

Now let’s get to the big one. The claim that wind turbines “change the local climate”. Viv goes on in his post with this…really, brace yourself…

A wall of wind turbines acts like a mini coastal range – slowing the wind and making it rise over the obstacles. Whenever air rises over a range, it cools and tends to drop its moisture as rain. As it goes down the other side it tends to warm up, lowering its relative humidity. This is why the apparently insignificant coastal range from Cooktown to Cooma is naturally covered with thick scrub and the land in the rain shadow behind the coastal range is dry. Wind towers inevitably have a similar effect on climate, creating new rain shadows in the areas robbed of wind.

Seriously? Wind turbines act like the Great Dividing Range and facilitate orographic rainfall? Let’s pretend for a moment that this utter garbage is accurate, is Viv suggesting that wind farms would have a worse impact than the already obvious changes in weather patterns brought about by human-induced climate change? Actually I won’t even give this nonsense credence and here’s why. The source provided by Viv to back up this ludicrous claim is here. It’s an article in New Scientist magazine referring to an unpublished manuscript by Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute.  It’s essentially an exercise in mathematics pertaining to thermodynamics. Whether he is right or wrong is actually irrelevant because the bit that Viv Forbes is relying on is summed up in this one sentence from the New Scientist article.

Build enough wind farms to replace fossil fuels, he says, and we could seriously deplete the energy available in the atmosphere, with consequences as dire as severe climate change.

The issue here is no-one in the world is suggesting we replace all our fossil fuels purely with wind power. The switch to renewables will involve a mix of many different systems as well as increased efficiencies. The unpublished Kleidon manuscript is purely theoretical and does not take into account future efficiency improvements. Also many of his assumptions about land use changes are untested and purely hypothetical. What Viv Forbes would have you believe is that current wind installations are affecting climate. This is of course completely unsubstantiated drivel. Of course the fact of the matter is, doing nothing, as Viv Forbes and the equally idiotic deniers Viv associates with would have us do, will result in far worse consequences than doing something.

I guess what I really have trouble understanding about Viv Forbes is how he classifies himself? Read these paragraphs. Emphasis is mine.

Today’s heroes, however, are those in the anti-industry — those who make well-paid careers out of stopping things. They are anti-business, anti-mining, anti-farming, anti-development, anti-trade, anti-change and anti-foreigners. Their neurotic pre-occupation with the ways and things of the past is destroying prosperity and jobs and creating a generation of of children afraid of change, fearful of risk and suspicious of the productive process which supports them….

The worst aspect of the anti-industry is that its negative influence is heavily focussed on new businesses. Those who oppose change are naturally moved to oppose everything new — new mines, new buildings, new work methods, new industries. Their motivation is usually just grubby fear of competition. Sometimes it is genuine fear of the unknown or opposition to change.Viv Forbes. 1995

Could these paragraphs describe himself?  “Their motivation is usually just grubby fear of competition.” Well, given Viv Forbes’ background, his stance against the new industries and technologies of renewable energies could certainly be fear of competition.

*sigh* I could go on and on bringing up dozens of examples of Viv Forbes demonstrating the very practices he claims to oppose but it’s getting late and you get the idea. My forehead also hurts. Anyone who takes this clown seriously needs their head read. His post at the official blog of the Climate Sceptics Party is inaccurate, poorly sourced, ideologically driven claptrap fit for consumption by morons. If you actually believe his bullshit, and your idiocy works to prevent action on climate change, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will get what you deserve.

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6 responses to “Denier comment of the day October 28, 2012

  1. I agree with you Mike. Forbes appears to describe himself very accurately because, one thing he is clearly not is open-minded about the need to try new things… Even when it is increasingly obvious that our chronic dependency on the 18th Century invention of fossil fuels has had some horrendous side effects…

  2. Nick

    Viv Forbes is the only throbbing noise I can detect here. A typical professional whinger who complains all the way to the bank. There is a overwhelming stench of self-righteousness and defensiveness motivating his utterances,basically “if you constrain the entrepreneurial exceptionalism,the entitlement and the technological biases of my generation,you’ll end up in caves” We WILL end up in caves faster than necessary if we allow the Forbes of this world any more open slather.

    The rambling about rain-shadows from wind generators is as D-K as it gets. Processes bringing rain to SE and E Australia involve air masses many kilometres deep and hundreds to thousands wide,and moisture sourced from 100s and 1000s of kilometres. To suggest that turbines drawing a little energy out of the surface wind layer will affect rainfall systems is absurd. In fact if they do force air to rise a little further [just to humour Viv a little] they might enhance orographic precipitation on their mountaintop locales all of which feed dammed catchments.

    Furthermore,wind generators so far erected have needed very little land clearing,situated as they are on hilltop land cleared and often overcleared for 100 to 150 years of grazing. And land clearing at large scale is a big influence on declining rainfall according to global studies. Most of coastal NSW,Gippsland and southern Qld has seen a multi-decadal decline in mean rainfall pre-dating any wind turbine construction.

    Places like the Monaro Tableland are rainshadowed from both east and west due to the elevated edges of the landform and simple distance from the sea. Should turbines be erected on that windy plateau they will have no influence on local RF because that influence is in fact regional and set by prevailing wind and topography

    The AGW enhanced circumpolar air movement makes southern Victoria and in particular Tasmania even better suited for wind power. Forbes should have the guts to claim credit for that development on behalf of his generation.

    • I once stood behind a wind turbine tower when it was raining and the wind was blowing. I didn’t get wet. Therefore…orographic rainfall on a very small scale.

      • And so how were you with the low frequency vibrations/throbbing noises? For example, did they drive you into a crazed state wherein you might have even hung, drawn and quartered your own mother if you had not been able to get away from it?

  3. john byatt

    I actually hope that part of Viv’s nonsense goes into the local paper,

    you have to be very careful to get the message across,

    if readers were asked what the message was from viv’s article it would be this

    “James Hansen, an outspoken world climate alarmist says: “Coal-fired power plants are factories of death”.

    That is what will stick in people’s mind
    “factories of death”

  4. Pingback: Watt about wind power? | Wotts Up With That Blog