One of the hallmarks of modern conservatism is their love of making up completely silly attacks, and sticking with them, no matter how much they’re debunked, or how many legitimate attacks may exist. By endlessly insisting that the Clintons are evil incarnate, we now have a sizable portion of the US that believes, without evidence, that Hillary Clinton regularly has people assassinated for getting in her way. It doesn’t matter that it’s nonsense invented by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, it just matters that it has been woven into the tapestry of bullshit that has become conservative “common knowledge”.
Another such myth is the idea that wind turbines are too noisy. There are real reasons to be concerned about wind turbines, like their effects on local ecosystems. Here in Ireland, turbines built in peatlands, and the infrastructure supporting them, have resulted in at least one landslide. Likewise, one could point to the damage done to birds and bats, or even – maybe – the flickering effect of the blades when the sun is behind them in the morning or evening. The problem is that with the exception of the last point, all of the others require acknowledging that ecological harm is something worth considering.
Plus, you know, turbines are big fans, and fans make noise. Sometimes that’s all the “reasoning” that’s needed to make a bit of propaganda stick.
Well, it probably won’t persuade the right people, but some scientists looked into nighttime turbine noise and found that at worst, it’s comparable to normal traffic:
Short exposure to wind farm and road traffic noise triggers a small increase in people waking from their slumber that can fragment their sleep patterns, according to new Flinders University research.
But importantly, the new study also shows that wind farm noise isn’t more disruptive to sleep than road traffic, which was a little more disruptive at the loudest audio level but not at more common levels.
Sleep researchers at Flinders University have studied the impact of exposure to wind farm noise during sleep in three new scientific publications to better understand its impact on Australians.
The study played 20-second wind farm and road traffic noise samples repeatedly during participants sleep using 3 different sound pressure levels to compare their sleep disruption responses between the two different noise types.
On a separate night, the study tested if longer 3-minute noise samples, including very low-frequency wind farm infrasound alone, resulted in sleep disturbance.
The researchers also found that wind farm infrasound at realistic levels was not audible to the human ear during wake and produced no evidence of sleep disruption. These findings were presented at the International conference on Wind Farm Noise in Dublin on June 22, 2023 and are still to be journal peer reviewed.
The project took 5 years to complete and involved over 460 sleep study nights from 68 participants who each spent seven consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory.
I get the impression that this sort of thing is difficult to study.
I don’t know that I would call this conclusive, but it adds to the general thrust of past research – wind turbines certainly aren’t silent, but they’re no noisier than many other aspects of day to day life. I also appreciate that they specifically looked into the infrasound issue, because I’ve definitely seen people – usually NIMBY types – claiming that the real harm comes from sounds that humans can’t detect, but that mess with our bodies. Basically, some people think that these things are sonic weapons. The problem is that nobody has ever been able to detect any sounds that could cause harm.
These researchers clearly recorded what infrasounds do exist, and found that they don’t do squat, so it’s nice to have another bit of research in my back pocket for future use. It won’t help with the true believers or the paid propagandists, but it could be good for folks who’re just trying to figure out what’s going on. If nothing else, it might save someone from falling prey to the Wind Turbine Nocebo Effect.