Wind Turbines Kill Birds Dead

by William Yeatman on July 13, 2000

in Science

Wind Turbines Kill Birds Dead

A new study conducted by BioResource Consultants for the National Energy Lab has found that certain types of wind turbines kill birds at a rate five times higher than previously estimated.

According to study author Carl Thelander, as many as 1150 birds are killed annually by the turbines at Californias Altamont Pass, including burrowing owls, raptors, and golden eagles, which are illegal to kill under the Bald Eagle Protection Act. Thelander warned the wind industry: “The electric industry has been prosecuted for killing less.”

At the heart of the bird-kill issue is a technological debate. The industry has claimed repeatedly that fewer lattice towers with horizontal bars and the elimination of high-rpm rotors reduce avian deaths dramatically. Said Thelander, “Our data shows these assumptions are not true.” In other words, no specific wind turbine technology exists that can reduce bird-kills. (Wind Power Monthly, July 2000)

Despite this alarming finding, Greenpeace and other green groups have not indicated any intent to protest or otherwise harass turbine operators and reports of the study have not been featured in the New York Times or Washington Post.

Summer Reading

In “Breaking the Global-Warming Deadlock”, authors Daniel Sarewitz and Roger Pielke, Jr. advocate dropping pointless arguments over carbon dioxide emissions and temperature data in favor of addressing real environmental problems. Their article appears in the July issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine.

Although they knock global warming skeptics as well as true believers, their argument is similar to what leading skeptics have been saying for many years. The authors suggest that as population grows and development continues, severe weather events will do more and more damage. They thus suggest that we should turn our attention to adaptation and mitigation.

Two quotes: “As a basis for action, vulnerability to weather has everything that global warming lacks: a clear story rooted in concrete experience, observable in the present, definable in terms of widely shared values.” And: “The moral imperative should be not to prevent human disruption of the environment but to ameliorate the social and political conditions that lead people to behave in environmentally disruptive ways.”

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