Wind Power and Bird Deaths
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, they have constructed voluntary guidelines for wind developers to follow to try and minimize the risk associated with wind power and bird deaths. Although there is no way of knowing the exact amount of bird deaths attributed by wind power, the estimates are currently between 30,000 and 60,000 deaths a year. This number may sound astonishingly high, but when compared to the amount of deaths attributed to birds by skyscrapers or vehicles it is relatively low.
Currently, wind power generation only accounts for about 1%, roughly 3 million homes, of all the energy being generated in the US. I believe the greater concern here is that if renewable energy is mandated to increase to 20% over the years to help curb global warming, the number of bird deaths associated with wind power could increase 20 fold, to roughly 900,000 to 1.8 million deaths a year. This figure is far more damaging and should be taken a little more seriously. However, it is my position to not hinder the progress being made in renewable energy. Perhaps a new design can help alleviate the damage being done by wind power causing bird deaths.
With wind projects on the rise, it is absolutely paramount that we keep our environmental impact to a minimum to reduce bird deaths. Letting a government agency regulate wind energy is the wrong way to go, the guidelines suffice. New and innovative projects are continuing to cut back on bird deaths by as much as half. For example, in California, the developers at Altamont Pass, FPL Energy (the largest wind energy company in the US), are going to implement fewer but more efficient wind turbines that are constructed taller and with larger blades that are higher than the direct flight path of the migratory birds that fly through.
This is exactly what we need in the US, more innovation and better efficiency with our renewable energy. If our renewable energy demand is going to increase over the years as it will, then our expectations for maximum efficiency with minimal environmental impact should also be high. We are on the road to converting our fossil fuel ways, and it will take a period of years to convert. This is the natural progress of our evolution, we as a society are finally growing mentally to higher grounds with more intelligence and more common sense. The Earth cannot continue to support its inhabitants without sustainability.
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