David Lowe wrote an enlightening article concerning wind energy in Texas, but he failed to mention the huge impact that occurs to wildlife.
The impact upon deer herds and other land mammals is generally understood. They eventually return after the construction disturbance, although in lower numbers. However, the impact to the flying creatures is long-term and continuous. They must negotiate a gauntlet of spinning blades and metal towers.
Oftentimes, these structures are located on hills, mountains and other migratory flyways. As a result, thousands of birds and bats are killed at wind farms every year. With the industry booming in Texas, those mortality numbers will likely increase.
So why should you care? Birds and bats are a part of our natural heritage, and many occupy a crucial role in the local ecosystem, which ultimately affects our quality of life. They help control pest insect populations which benefits us in two ways: There is the reduced cost we pay for food because farmers are not applying large amounts of pesticides to crops, and we certainly enjoy the freedom from a lowered biting insect population on a summer evening.
Bird watching is a billion-dollar industry that provides enjoyment for hundreds of thousands of people. Similarly, bat watching is a multi-million-dollar industry in many cities (e.g., Austin).
Lastly, these creatures provide to us a glimpse about how the world works and how we can solve the problems of disease and disability.
Wind farms do show promise for providing more energy generation at reduced pollution levels. But at this time, the costs to wildlife far outweigh the benefits of “clean energy,” and more work must be done to understand and mitigate these costs. Less than 5 percent of energy comes from wind power, and it is not worth the thousands of bird/bat kills per thousand kilowatts.
Wind farms are not the solution to increased energy costs and pollution. We can reduce costs associated with energy production by simply lowering our consumption. Don’t leave lights, televisions and computers on unattended; buy energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs; lower your thermostat in the winter and increase it in the summer. This is by far an easier solution, and our wildlife is not unnecessarily killed in the process.
Charles E. Pekins
July 16, 2007
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