April 29, 2007

No choice between birds and wind energy

In the Winter 2007 issue of Bird Scope from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, John Fitzpatrick recalls the old water-pumping windmills in the Minnesota prairies of his childhood and writes,
Even by the 1950s these inexpensive water pumps already were being eclipsed by the national power grid, which brought reliable energy to farmhouses and electric pumps even on windless days.
He then goes on to extoll the expansion of modern industrial-scale wind turbines, ignoring the obvious that he already stated: They don't provide reliable energy. They therefore won't affect carbon emissions or coal-burning. And therefore Fitzgerald's effort to balance the toll on birds and bats is delusional.

He also repeats the fallacy that the lower rpm of modern wind turbines makes them safer for birds. The rpm is lower because the rotor blades are so much longer -- a diameter of almost 300 feet (the length of a football field!) is now typical. At the tips, the blades are slicing through the air at 150-200 mph.

Instead of calling for post-installation studies to count the corpses, he should call for for a moratorium until thorough studies to determine the actual benefits of large-scale wind are done. The fact is, the evidence from Denmark is that there are little, if any, benefits to be weighed against the inevitable deaths.

Another article in the same issue describes a new effort to study the effects of man-made noise on whales. In addition to oil and gas drilling the pulsating vibrations from off-shore giant wind turbines ought to be a concern as well.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, animal rights