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Jake Neiffer
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PostThu Nov 08, 2018 11:26 am 
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"They found that predatory raptor birds were four times rarer in areas of plateau where wind turbines were present, a disruption that cascaded down the food chain and radically altered the density and behaviour of the birds' prey"

https://phys.org/news/2018-11-farm-predator-effect-ecosystems.html
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PostThu Nov 08, 2018 1:29 pm 
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nwhikers member MtnGoat cited a similar article on this issue just a few days ago.

I am baffled.  huh.gif

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Bedivere
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PostWed Nov 14, 2018 1:08 pm 
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Ski wrote:
nwhikers member MtnGoat cited a similar article on this issue just a few days ago.

I am baffled.  huh.gif

Looks like the article MtnGoat posted is based on the same study as Jake's article.

Doesn't seem too surprising. The blades on the turbines kill the soaring birds and possibly interrupt/change the patterns of the thermals on which they soar.

Everything has consequences. It's too bad that we're not very good at seeing what all the consequences are ahead of time.

I wonder what the consequences of putting wind farms out on the ocean would be?

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DIYSteve
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 7:43 am 
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This issue requires some perspective. Bird deaths by turbine blade strikes are are a tiny fraction (<0.01%) of bird deaths caused by collisions with human structures or motor vehicles or by other human-triggered causes (mostly cats).

U.S. Fish & Wildife estimates that collisions with wind turbines cause the death of between 140,000 and 328,000 birds per year in the U.S. Source: https://www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/threats-to-birds.php The American Bird Conservancy finds that some raptors are benefited by wind turbines, which provide an opportunity for a high perch for hunting. Source: https://abcbirds.org/wind-energy-threatens-birds/

Contrast the 140,000 - 328,000 bird deaths by collisions wind turbines against other causes of bird deaths (annually in U.S.):

-- 5,000,000 to 50,000,000 killed by "towerkill," i.e., strikes with communication towers or supporting cables per the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towerkill

-- window strikes: between 365,000,000 and 988,000,000. Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife

-- motor vehicle strikes: 60,000,000 to 80,000,000. Source: Id.

-- power lines (collisions and electrocutions): 130,000,000 to 174,000,000. Source: Id.

-- domestic and feral cats: 1.3 billion to 4 billion. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_predation_on_wildlife#Birds per U.S. Fish & Wildlife and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

-- oil pits: between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife

-- poison: 72,000,000. Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife

-- Structures/industry total (excludes cats): between 453,140,438 and 1,136,827,586. Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Share of wind turbine deaths as part of all industry & structure-related deaths: 0.033%

Share of wind turbine deaths as part of all human-related deaths (industry, cats, window strikes): <0.01%


These numbers are of accidental deaths of wild birds and exclude millions of birds killed intentionally by hunters and domestic birds
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Alpine Pedestrian
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 7:44 am 
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Steve - thank you so much for posting that.
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 8:36 am 
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Steve is correct. Those who are against sustainable energy and conservation will grasp any argument to make a political case. It is about making an argument not preserving birds.

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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 8:54 am 
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To clarify: The 500,000 to 1,000,000 oil pit wild bird deaths per year are those by fracking and tar sands waste pits. Bird deaths from oil pits in Canada are likely higher, but reliable data is not available. The environmental cost of fracking in Canada is largely unknown because the oil industry controls provincial legislatures.
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RandyHiker
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 9:18 am 
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I think the OP article doesn't claim that the predatory birds were killed by wind turbine blades.  Rather that there is much less hunting by those birds in wind turbine areas.  They might be dead or they might be avoiding the area.

I'll bet there are also large disruptions of ecosystems  for various forms of fossil fuel extraction and use.  E.g. "Tar sands" in Alberta completely devastate all life in vast areas, but the public would never know because the Alberta government has made it illegal to make aerial photographs of the tar sand mines.
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DIYSteve
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 11:13 am 
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RandyHiker wrote:
I think the OP article doesn't claim that the predatory birds were killed by wind turbine blades.

Yeah, the article is vague re the cause of the decreased raptor population. The article is followed by a link to the source journal article for $9.95. As an avid birder, I'm interested in the study, although I'm not going to shell out $10 to read a study re a wind farm in India.

RandyHiker wrote:
.  .  .  but the public would never know because the Alberta government has made it illegal to make aerial photographs of the tar sand mines.

True, and it's worse than the ban of aerial photography. 10 or so years ago I got involved in in a public works deal re deep geothermal energy development in AB. The RFP included NDA language unlike anything I've ever seen from any party, public or private. Those provisions in public works bidding docs would be illegal in the U.S. under public transparency laws, but they have been ruled enforceable by AB courts. The fracking industry controls the AB provincial government. There's a similar strong cultural set of unwritten rules. For example, the term "tar sands" is taboo. Utter "tar sands" in a rural AB bar and you'll taken out back, beaten up and reminded that the proper term is "oil sands."

I've done a bit of birdwatching at the Wild Horse Wind Farm (visible from our property). I've seen lots of species there, e.g., Sage Thrashers, Golden Eagles, Sage Sparrows, Prairie Falcons. It's nesting grounds for those 4 species and many more. I'm quite certain that wind farm has less detrimental environmental affect that this tar sand development:

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Jake Neiffer
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 12:33 pm 
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I missed the part where I (or someone else) said anything positive about tar sands.

The downstream impacts seem of more concern than the dead birds themselves, as Randy alluded to, but windmills do kill birds nevertheless.

PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths in Wyoming
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DIYSteve
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 1:22 pm 
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Jake Neiffer wrote:
I missed the part where I (or someone else) said anything positive about tar sands.

Many human endeavors have detrimental affects on ecosystems. More specifically, all energy generation is detrimental to ecosystems and some flora and fauna. The issue is the relative damage and other detriment resulting from various available sources of energy.

The data supports the conclusion that wind power has less detrimental affect that most fossil fuel sources, surely less than fracking, pit coal mining (and burning) and tar sands oil. Hydropower development has resulted in profound devastation of numerous large riparian ecosystems and, in turn, huge populations of wetland species. Solar farms result in bird kills, very possibly at a greater rate than wind farms per kilowatt generation. (The research is in the early stages on that.) Electricity generation via nuclear power is quite clean, although nuke plant cooling kills millions of fish each year (and there's the long term issue of dealing with nuclear waste and destruction of habitat resulting from uranium mining).

I wholly support research and an honest discussion re bird kills resulting from wind farms. The issue is especially of interest to me, an avid birdwatcher for 40 years. But the issue of wind farm bird kills is meaningless unless it is viewed in the context of damage caused by other forms of electricity generation and other human endeavors (including pet and feral cats, the biggest human-triggered cause of songbird deaths). Too often Big Oil proponents cite wind farm bird kills without presenting any context, which IMV is deception by omission.
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 2:01 pm 
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DIYSteve wrote:
"...the issue of wind farm bird kills is meaningless unless it is viewed in the context of damage caused by other forms of electricity generation and other human endeavors (including pet and feral cats, the biggest human-triggered cause of songbird deaths)..."

^ Well and succinctly put, sir.

The argument against wind-generated power (because of bird kills) is just another sham.

If people were really concerned about birds, they'd start slaughtering cats en masse.

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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 2:37 pm 
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But the issue of wind farm bird kills is meaningless unless it is viewed in the context of damage caused by other forms of electricity generation and other human endeavors

Correct.  I don't see much evidence that wind turbines are that bad, compared with others.  Probably not as "clean" as hydro and rooftop solar and speculative fusion might be if we ever get it, but certainly much cleaner than coal, for obvious example.
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Jake Neiffer
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 4:31 pm 
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Ski- I've never seen a house cat kill a golden eagle.

So many assumptions on motivations.  I'm not suggesting to can wind power because it kills birds, but raptor deaths are legitimate to consider nonetheless.

Steve-  do you assume that anyone who posts about a problem with wind power is ignorant?  I have an engineering degree and worked in the nuke field for years. I have a decent grasp on the pros and cons of various types of electricity generation.

Another legitimate concern is subsides.  They are still orders of magnitude higher for renewables. The money that was used for wind power subsidies resulted in CO2 emissions.  For some reason, this is often ignored.

For recent info on subsidies on a $/MWh basis, see page 24 of this paper: https://energy.utexas.edu/sites/default/files/UTAustin_FCe_Subsidies_2018_April.pdf
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Jake Neiffer
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PostMon Nov 19, 2018 4:59 pm 
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Very true.  What got me thinking about this recently actually is gophers.  I farm now and just from memories as a kid there seems to be a whole lot more gophers locally then there used to be.  Now I obviously have no proof for this, but I've talked to other locals who seem to believe there has been an uptick in population as well.

We live close to many windmills, in fact Shepard Flat used to be the largest wind farm in the world, it may still be.  But I'm probably at least 10 miles as the crow flies from the nearest windmill.  So it may very well be too far away to have any impact.

I'm not suggesting to do away with wind power because of gophers either.
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