The dark side of wind power


We can talk about numbers – more birds are killed by windows than anything else – so the number of birds killed by wind turbines is generally thought to be an acceptable amount of “collateral damage.” But what about seeing it as it happens? Is watching a majestic, soaring bird violently ripped from the air by the sweep of a wind turbine’s rotor blade enough to steer our national conversation on wind power toward greater attention in sustainability and the identification of absolute “no build” areas? See for yourself here.
dead_under_a_turbine7[1](1)
Much credit is due billionaire T. Boone Pickens for his effort to promote wind power as an alternative energy strategy, but the simple fact is that the most productive areas for development frequently overlap areas of great importance to native wildlife. Michael Fry‘s opinion piece in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times points out the problem well.

It’s time we started talking seriously about whether or not it truly is a good idea to erect and operate tens of thousands of new wind turbines. So far, media attention has focused on nothing other than wind’s “green” image, but that image is not quite so green when you look at it more closely.

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This entry was posted in animal behavior, bat conservation, biofuels, bird banding, birds/nature, editorial, Endangered Species Act, environment, IUCN, Links, migrants, pressure drop, skepticism and science, vultures, wave energy, wildlife, wind power. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The dark side of wind power

  1. chris pragman says:

    I’d heard somewhere recently that bats can be affected even more. They don’t have to be struck by the blades, just passing near the blades, the low-pressure behind the blade is enough to rupture their lungs or something.

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  2. heidi says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I worked at a wind farm for ~2 years in Abilene and became so uneasy over the numbers of bats (and birds) killed that it was very hard to even try to be positive about wind energy. All of the current mortality numbers are based on strange studies at only a handful of locations and certainly don’t reflect the megaturbines, much less their massive proliferation across the country. They’re an increasingly larger “drop in the bucket” that populations (especially bats) simply cannot handle.

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  3. Laura Heller says:

    Coal has its problems = mountaintop removal, poor water quality, watersheds destroyed, streams buried, wildlife killed and homeless, nature vegetation doesn’t return, etc. Oil has its problems = dependency on import from other countries or destroy the wild areas of Alaska for the oil there. Shale/Natural Gas has its problems = likely disrupt the earth plates causing more earthquakes, and surely other problems I am not familiar with yet. I never heard this about wind power, but it is disheartening and makes me sad. Is there any way to discourage their flight through such an area? I guess not… 😦

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  4. “I never heard this about wind power”

    This is the reason we need to keep talking about it. While the conservationist media has often mentioned potential drawbacks to wind power development, I honestly cannot recall an example from the mainstream media in which dead birds and bats have even been mentioned in the same breath as “wind power.”

    Wind power is slightly olive-drab – it is NOT green. Currently, there are tremendous subsidies available for landowners and developers that are making the development profitable; meanwhile not one traditional (e.g. coal fired) power plant has _not_ been built because wind was able to supply the full power needs of some area. The biggest problem, however, is that our best wind resource areas coincide with expansive habitats for native species – habitats that are being dangerously fragmented in the name of this “green” energy.

    There are simply places on this earth where wind turbines and transmission lines should NOT be built.

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  5. Seb says:

    Hey just stumbled onto this article through the tag surfer. I have to concur with Laura, I had not even considered this as a problem with wind power. Thanks for the post!

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