Fact check: Is President Trump tilting at windmills?https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/fact-check-ground-reality-is-president-trump-tilting-at-windmills-5659353/

Fact check: Is President Trump tilting at windmills?

India’s installed grid-interactive wind power capacity as of December 31, 2018, was 35,288.10 MW, according to the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy. The GWEC estimated the world’s wind energy capacity at the end of 2017 at 539,581 MW.

While Trump has opposed wind energy for years, having lost a long legal battle in the UK in 2015 against the Scottish government’s decision to allow turbines within sight of his luxury golf resort, his latest statements have been criticised widely for being unscientific.

* President Donald Trump said Tuesday: “They say the noise (from wind turbines) causes cancer”, and “If you have a windmill… near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 per cent in value.”

* On March 2, Trump said: “When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.”

* On March 27, he said wind “only blows sometimes and lots of problems come about”. The next day, he said that had Hillary Clinton been President, “you would be doing wind, windmills…, and if it doesn’t blow you can forget about television for that night.”

While Trump has opposed wind energy for years, having lost a long legal battle in the UK in 2015 against the Scottish government’s decision to allow turbines within sight of his luxury golf resort, his latest statements have been criticised widely for being unscientific.

Cancer, property prices

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After the President spoke, the American Cancer Society issued a statement saying it was “unaware of any credible evidence linking the noise from windmills to cancer”. The New York Times reported that while a few small studies had suggested that wind farms may have depressed property values in some areas, an analysis of more than 50,000 home sales in nine US states in 2013 had shown that “home values are generally not affected by nearby wind projects”.

On-off power supply

The American fact-checking website PolitiFact pointed out that while wind was indeed an “intermittent energy source”, the US power grid was not reliant on wind alone, or on wind blowing in any specific area. To the 4,178 billion kWh generated by all sources of energy in the US in 2018, wind contributed 275 billion kWh (6.6%), PolitiFact said, quoting US government data.

Adverse health effects

Over the years, as many populations have complained against windmills, dozens of studies have looked at evidence linking turbines to hearing loss, nausea, sleep disorders, blood pressure, dizziness, tinnitus, and stress.

According to a Summary of Main Conclusions Reached in 25 Reviews of the Research Literature on Wind Farms and Health carried out over more than a decade across the world, there is no evidence that noise from wind turbines systems impacts human health.

The author of this 2015 compilation, Simon Chapman of Sydney University Medical School, also reported that a study published in 2013 by the state-owned nonprofit company VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland had concluded after “a review of nearly 50 scientific research articles conducted in Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand over the past 10 years” that “wind turbines do not cause any adverse health effects”.

A contested question

That said, the insistence by people all over the world that their ways of life and overall health had been affected since turbines — which emit a low-frequency hum and vibrations — were erected in their areas, cannot be dismissed. In September 2013, New York magazine reported that an air traffic controller who had set two aircraft on a collision course had blamed his mistake on insomnia, fatigue, and stress after a 40-storey wind turbine was erected behind his home.

Last June, NOVA, the American science documentary series, reported that a study published in that month’s The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America had “found no direct link between residents’ distance from wind turbines and sleep disturbances, blood pressure, or stress”.

Significantly, however, the report quoted Sandra Sulsky, a study co-author, as saying: “It’s not that we don’t believe that people aren’t feeling well or aren’t sleeping well. What we don’t know is how that is related to presence or absence of a wind turbine.”

The 2018 study used data from a 2013 Canadian Community Noise and Health Survey, which had found no adverse outcomes except annoyance linked to noise from — as well as proximity to — wind turbines.

But the 2018 study found that the closer the respondents lived to turbines the lower they ranked their quality of life, the NOVA report said.