A passion of mine is defending my profession (Science) from assault. Such is approaching a full-time job, as those promoting political or economic agendas are painfully aware that real Science is a major threat to their aspirations — so they are aggressively attacking it on multiple fronts. (See ScienceUnderAssault.info, which was my talk to Congress sponsored by the House Science and Technology Committee.)
We now have yet another distressing example, where a leading scientist has lost his job — apparently for the crime of being a conscientious, competent academic, focused on quality research (instead of chasing grant money).
Dr. Henrik Møller is an world-renown expert on infra-sound, and has published several high-quality studies on low-frequency acoustics (like here, here, here, and here). More recently, some of these have dealt with industrial wind energy noise (e.g. here — which was peer-reviewed).
He has been praised as Denmark’s “leading noise researcher.” What’s even more important is that he has been courageous enough to have publicly spoken out against poor government policies, as well as the misinformation disseminated from the wind energy cartel (see the Appendix below for details).
In Denmark there have been several newspaper reports about this surprising firing. Here are English translations of a few Danish articles (I have the originals as well). Some key points are:
— Dr. Møller has had thirty eight (38) years of distinguished service for Aalborg University.
— Ironically, this institution publicly prides itself as looking out for its professors: “At Aalborg University we focus intensively on staff welfare and job satisfaction.”
— He was the only one of 200± researchers at the Department of Electronic Systems in Aalborg who was let go…
— The purported reason for his firing, is that the professor is no longer “financially lucrative” for the university…
— Despite claiming that the termination was due to a shortage of funds, the university had recently hired two additional people in the same department…
— Dr. Møller’s reasoned responses were:
1) During the last year he may not have produced that much income, but in many other years his work resulted in substantial profit to the university.
2) Statistically, approximately half of the faculty would be operating at a loss — so why single him out?
3) In his prior 38 years of employment, and reviews, he was never informed that his job was solely dependent on outside funding.
4) Additionally, prior to the sacking, he had not been informed that his income production was a problem that need to be addressed — giving him a chance to do so.
— The Danish Society of Engineers, and the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs, have gone on record stating that it is unreasonable to dismiss researchers due to a lack of grants. Furthermore they reportedly said such a policy is contrary to the Danish University Act, which specifies that the purpose of research is to promote education, not to be a profit-making venture…
— The VP of the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations noted that it’s rare that a Danish professor is fired.
— It has been reported that the wind industry has frequently complained about Dr. Møller to his boss (Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen)
— Consider this: the same Dean Nielsen was a keynote speaker at the Wind Industry Association’s meeting, the day after he fired Dr. Møller!
— As one article explains, this termination might have also come from the fact that the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has a very close association with the wind industry, and that Dr. Møller’s scientific research had resulted in embarrassing revelations.
— The same article states that with Dr. Møller out of the picture, wind industry friendly DTU will now take over responsibility for assessing acoustical impacts of industrial wind turbines on Danish citizens. (I wonder what conclusions they will reach?)
As one report accurately stated: it takes courage for academics to focus on scientific research, instead of pursuing outside funding. For some of us, this is worth pointing out to Dr. Møller’s boss–and the person who fired him– Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen .
Appendix: Influential Wind Studies
Although his studies on industrial wind energy only comprise a small amount of his thirty eight years of academic work, they may have resulted in the most notoriety. Here are a few examples of Dr. Møller’s work related to wind energy, in his words:
1) We made an analyses of a wind project in Maastricht, planned to possibly have turbines from a Danish company. The City Council stopped the project after our report — a result that did not make us popular with the Danish wind industry.
2) A reason why we seem to be a nuisance to the wind industry in Denmark is that we keep finding errors in noise calculations and evaluations. As an example, we found serious errors in the environmental impact assessment behind a new law on a wind turbine test center, and the law had to be changed.
3) We also revealed that in a big Vestas promotion, they mixed up two acoustical terms (and Vestas had to change part of their campaign). I’m afraid there are only Danish newspaper articles about that — which is unfortunate, because it was quite funny.
4) We also criticized Danish regulation of wind turbine noise, which resulted in feature articles in Danish newspapers. I am not sure if others have been translated, but here is one example.
5) We also put together some web pages about the Danish wind regulations, which made the wind industry complain about me to the Dean (again).