Looking for a place to initiate discussion or share something random yet compelling related to birds, birding, nature, or conservation? You’ve found it. Welcome to our Weekly Wednesday Open Thread!
Don’t be too rude, crude, or commercial. Otherwise, have at it! Use the comments section to tell everyone what’s on your mind today.
I’ll start the proceedings, but feel free to take the conversation in a different direction:
The American Bird Conservancy deserves massive credit for its unswerving efforts to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas, especially for the organization’s willingness to firmly grasp the third rail of environmental blights: insatiable predatory feral kitties. But am I the only one who finds ABC’s rhetoric around the threat of wind power (Wind Power Could Kill Millions of Birds Per Year by 2030) more than a little over the top? Should we stick with the status quo of blowing the tops of mountains and saturating our ecosystems with oil and frack juice or should we strive towards sustainable wind power?
Our Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus) will be returning to their breeding site over the coming weeks. It is the only site of its kind in Bulgaria.
The thought occurs that no source of power is without costs. All have costs and benefits, environmental and economic. Here in New Zealand we get a lot of our power from hydro, but hydro has costs too. The trick is devising a meaningful way of comparing them all, and of giving suitable context to the costs. Millions of birds could die at the hands of wind by 2030? Millions of birds die right now because of buildings. The question both of these facts ask is “is that important?”.
Sadly when things are over stated we tend to not trust anything said….it really does seem an extreme that millions of birds will die. Until people are aware of their natural environment around them they will not notice the loss of anything.
@Duncan: the problem I see is that human-caused mortality is likely increasing significantly overall. If wind energy is expanded significantly and millions of birds die, millions of other birds will still die because of buildings, and other millions because of feral cats, and even more millions because of habitat destruction…
I have yet to see one of the major mortality factors go away, e.g. if wind energy would increase mortality on the one hand, yet on the other hand lead to a significant reduction of another mortality factor (by, say, reducing oil spillage into bird habitats) that would outweigh the wind-induced mortality.
That’s not the case, and all the factors are adding up.
This effect is referred to in German as “Salami Tactics”: each little slice you cut off the salami is insignificant compared to what is still left or has been cut off before, but in the end the entire salami is gone.
Therefore, I would say that every new human-caused mortality factor is important.
And I completely agree with your take on different energy forms having their respective costs and that the ideal energy strategy needs to put all these costs into consideration. Of course, the main focus should be placed on reducing energy demand in the first place.
I reckon Jochen is right on, as is the ABC. I worked for Bat Conservation International at a wind energy site, and am all too aware of the very real problems they can cause for both bats and birds. We, as conservationists, need to keep a close eye and wind energy because they are very successfully marketed as being some magical, low impact source of energy. I’m not fully against them, but I think the current laws in place in most states are not at all adequate to keep them from having terrible effects on wildlife if they are sited in important/high-use areas.
Very interesting debate, I have spent many years trying to convince supporters of modern wind turbines that the new technologies are not as bird friendly as they purport/pretend to be. The gullible will believe what suits them. The inquisitive will continue to question.. I witness the evidence of dead birds close to wind turbines regularly. I lean towards all alternative and sustainable forms of energy but bullshit is bullshit….. more research is required to convince many that turbines are safe for birdlife.