We love birds! We really do! That’s why we think it’s important to keep things in perspective and do the things that will really help them and make a difference. Many people have this obsession with wind turbines killing birds, probably because it’s a really great story. As a meme, it really strikes the imagination because wind turbines are this green thing, right, so killing birds is antithetical to what they’re supposed to be doing…
But if the goal is to save birds, we have to look at the actual facts on the ground and not just at whatever story makes for the catchiest headline.
A recent peer-reviewed study, which itself looked at 116 other studies from the U.S. and Canada, confirms that wind turbines are waaaay down the list of problems for birds; in fact by displacing fossil fuels they are helping birds, as well as everything else that is alive on the planet. A recent report confirmed that “hundreds of bird species in the U.S. — including the bald eagle and eight state birds, from Idaho to Maryland — are at ‘serious risk’ due to climate change. It said some species are forecast to lose more than 95% of their current ranges.”
Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds annually — a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats, according to the peer-reviewed study by two federal scientists and the environmental consulting firm West Inc.
“We estimate that on an annual basis, less than 0.1% … of songbird and other small passerine species populations in North America perish from collisions with turbines,” says lead author Wallace Erickson of Wyoming-based West.
For those who don’t have an envelope nearby to do the math, that’s about 10,000x more deaths from just house cats than from wind turbines.
And that’s not even looking at some of the other biggest bird killers out there: building and vehicles. That’s probably millions, if not hundreds of millions or billions, of other birds right there. In the grand scheme of things, wind turbines are probably lost in the margin of error.
Here are the numbers from a different source, the 2014 State of Birds report (pdf):
2014 State of Birds report/Screen capture
This doesn’t mean that wind power operators should stop doing what they can to protect birds. Wind farms should be properly sited and everything should be done to mitigate any risks.
But bird lovers need to go against the real enemies rather than spending precious energy fighting one of the main tools that we have to clean up our power grid and have a greener world.
Via USA Today