Windturbines: Great For Wind Energy, Not So Great For The Rare Bird Population

I was driving in Northwestern Missouri recently and noticed off in the distance the vast amount of wind turbines that dot the landscape.  It got me to thinking; what are wind energy pros and cons.  First of all, I am not a fan of the look of the structures.  I am however, open-minded to the use, simply because I know very little about it.  That said, wind energy may be a great natural aggregator of electrical energy, but its use, certainly comes with a cost.  I think we can all agree that there is a cost to the look of the landscape where they reside.  However, one of the consequences you may have heard little about is what these turbine blades are doing to the rare bird population.   dead_white-tailed_eagle-500These massive blades are the root cause of slimming down the population of some of our rare bird species.  The fatalities have affected the population of golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, burrowing owls, mallards, horned larks and western meadowlarks.  The interesting thing is, there is a power struggle here, because many of those sympathetic to the plight of the birds are the same environmentalists who want to see the renewable energy sector grow.   Because of this predicament, environmentalists struggle with wind energy pro’s and cons and, wonder what is most important.  Are they in favor of protecting the birds from an untimely death by guillotine, in the way of fan blades, or are they in favor of protecting the environment by promoting renewable energy.  Either way, I think they gotta choose one or the other, because nearly 573,000 birds per year  are becoming a casualty of environmental protectionism.  This problem will only persist as the number of wind turbines across the globe continues to grow, and the size of the turbines themselves grow.   This seems to be an unintended consequence of humans trying to create an environment for nature.  Lest we forget, that nature’s environment, has no intention of being controlled.

Did you know that wind turbines are built as high as 30 stories high, are visible from many miles away, just check out Palm Springs California!  These turbines look to be moving at a very slow pace, when in reality, the tips move at a staggering speed of 170 MPH.  This causes a tornado-like vortex, and when the two groups struggle for the same airspace the blade always wins!  The renewable energy movement in full court press, in fact there is a desire to have over 100,000 functioning turbines by the year 2030.  If that is the case, we can expect the bird mortality rate to rise and therefore exceed 1,000,000 per year.  As a result, some rare species may become extinct.  This is the consequence of an investment in renewable energy, one that you certainly do not hear about on the national news.

Many of these birds are on the Federal Endangered Species List, and if you are responsible for the death of these, that will be a Federal Crime.  But there is a double standard here, because our friends in Washington eagerly want to prosecute oil companies who “cause” the death of rare birds, when these birds get electrocuted on their land or drown in their waste pits.  However, to date there have not been any fines or prosecution of any wind energy companies who should be considered liable for deaths of our endangered feathered friends.   In fact, a company in Wyoming, PacifiCorp which operates coal plants has paid fines of over $10 million dollars for unintentionally electrocuting eagles.  Its ok for an unsightly fan blade to chop an eagle to pieces, but electrocution, why that is out of the question!  According to our friends in Washington, the bird casualties are worth the “investment” into curbing the use of fossil fuels.  It’s unfortunate that birds have to be the ones who sacrifice their lives in an effort to promote the theory of renewable energy.  Hope humans aren’t the next sacrificial lamb used in an effort to promote a specific theory.

 

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13 Comments

  1. CF says:

    Very interesting! I never considered that generating wind energy would be a hazard for birds, but it makes sense. Perhaps the technology needs to evolve a bit more in order to keep birds away. Perhaps using similar techniques such as those used by airports.

  2. I never thought about the effects that turbines would cause. I always thought how great it is to not depend on oil and gas but never looked at the cons of using another type of energy solution. Cant barriers or something be put up to help protect the birds or something? I agree with CF there should be some sort of technology that can help the birds. I wonder if it is that they don’t know or don’t care that this problem persists. Maybe they are working on a solution. Hopefully they are and not just concern with making money.

  3. Huh! Super interesting. If I were forced to pick a side, I’d have to go with the turbines (if they’re being used in areas where they are efficient.) They may take out some birds (which I think is horrible,) but if global warming kills the planet they, along with every other species, runs the risk of extinction as well.

    • Jim says:

      Yea, never realized that these were the casualties of turbines until I had heard about it on the radio. Did a little research and it seems like this is a big deal.

  4. We watched a documentary about wind turbines and their effect on the local community, can’t remember what it was called. Anyway, some of the people who lived near them claimed that they were getting sick, having migraines, etc.

    I like the idea of them but I wouldn’t want to live near one!!!

    • Jim says:

      Hadn’t heard about people getting sick, but that is quite unfortunate, seems like another Con for renewable energy!

  5. Wow, Jim. over half a million birds a year? That’s so sad! There has to be a better way. 🙁

  6. Kaathy says:

    I find it interesting that the EPA has decided that it is ok for the wind turbines to kill as many birds as necessary to promote the industry. This same government gestapo agency would prosecute and persecute an individual who has possession of just one eagle feather. It just goes to show how rampant the hypocrisy is in this administration.

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