Saturday, June 17, 2006


Birds and Wind Turbines

I am reading a great book about the obsession with the American lawn --
American green : the obsessive quest for the perfect lawn / Ted Steinberg.

In it, the author notes that 7 million birds are killed by lawn treatment chemicals ANNUALLY.

I recall estimates about bird kill from house and feral cats on the order of tens of millions annually. I know that skyscrapers and bridges and other static structures kill untold numbers of birds.

I think we need to do some serious cost-benefit on the various methods of bird kill before we decide that wind machines are a big problem.

We know that many species of birds not be able to adapt to a world that is 5-10 degrees F hotter.

This is a huge and not-easily-solved conflict because one of the things that characterizes bird flyways is high average wind speeds--that's why birds use them as flyways. There are places with high windspeeds that aren't bird flyways--but there are exactly ZERO places where someone doesn't have five reasons fight tooth and nail against a wind turbine (fears of noise, fear of EM fields, disturbance of pristing land, fear of shadow, fear for birds, "view" concerns . . .).

Because wind machines are a permitted use (meaning, the developer has to get permits), the enviro community has many good opportunities to defeat the permits and lots of skill in doing so. (The question is whether we have any skills in getting the right technologies built, rather than just stopping a few examples of what we dislike.)

Meanwhile, the coal plants get built--each one representing a 60 year (or more) commitment to pump billions to tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, while sucking up the capital and making it unavailable for clean energy. And the lawn and golfing industry merrily pours toxic chemicals over an area the size of Kentucky (no permits required) and people keep cats outdoors (no permits required).

I'm not arguing for siting wind turbines in the most sensitive spots--but I am saying we better have a serious and rising sense of real urgency about ensuring that _huge_ numbers of wind turbrines can and are sited in Michigan, or else we're simply doing our part to condemn all species, including birds, to a hellish future.

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