October 22, 2005

Desire for wind turbines justifies killing

To the Editor, Providence (R.I.) Journal:

Jack Coleman (Opinion, Oct. 20), in citing two caveats from the Desholm and Kahlert study (Biology Letters, 2005) of geese and ducks flying around the off-shore wind facility near Nysted, Denmark, did not notice the most obvious limitations of the research: Monitoring was done only during fair weather and not during twilight. That is, it found a favorable outcome by restricting observation to favorable conditions.

Coleman then goes on to describe the toll of buildings, towers, cats, oil spills, soot, mercury, global warming, and habitat destruction on bird populations, as if that justifies the new mode of death he is advocating.

Of course he admits, apparently believing that opponents have never thought of it, that the new death toll "must be measured against the cost of failure to reverse climate change."

There he ends his opinion piece, simply implying that industrial wind turbines help mitigate global warming and thus save more birds that they kill, that they save more wildlife habitat than they degrade.

But that is precisely where the debate begins. Do large wind power facilities actually reduce the effects of fossil fuel use? Opponents look at the evidence -- instead of the industry's sales material -- and find that they do not. Therefore even the most downplayed impact is not justified.

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