Friday, July 30, 2010

Heavy Thoughts

Originally posted over at Seetrail; backdated here.

One need only see my introduction post to know why I feel rather torn over this snippet of video:

That's a train with about 10 turbines worth of tower parts going west. And at the end? That's a falcon tower that I work alongside. May the two never mingle.

Raptors are incredibly susceptible to wind turbine collisions. Aerial hunters, aerial scavengers, aerial migrators, they all have a few things in common. And wind turbines are not part of their evolution. So creatures with low reproductive rates (namely, bats) will take a much greater hit in terms of population... and it will probably come to that at some point. Populations of creatures generally do not exponentially expand to meet human trends, unless french fries are involved. For turbines, they'd need to exponentially expand to sustain their increased mortality rate; not an increased food supply.

Having grown up with the Gulf as my backyard, it is agonizing to catch snippets of the news regarding the oil spill. But I cannot bear to look at continued fragmentation and fast-tracking of poorly researched technologies (who, incidentally, break blades that aren't recyclable... that's 115 FEET of fiberglass and epoxy going to a landfill). Even the idealists who tout solar farms - industrial everything is not good for everything. Desert is fragile, solar farms destroy their footprint. Wind farms fragment land and take an additional toll on living creatures who simply pass through the area. Much like windows. But if we produce the energy where it is used, perhaps we'll understand that the need is not for "more" energy, but for truly green energy. Green in the way that won't smother half of a region and will not push bat numbers to the lowest points in recorded history (white-nose syndrome up north is compounding the impact). If energy efficiency works, wonderful. Until then, we just need to cut back on things we don't desperately need - like air conditioning that requires inhabitants to wear sweaters in the summer.

Edit: it seems, as of 2011, that some broken blades are being repaired. No further details nor references were provided.

I digress. But I cannot with a clear conscience support wind energy as it is done today. Perhaps vertical axis wind turbines (contiguous, single blade, preferably) will catch on and we can do a new round of R&D with fewer impacts... but for now, I'll sheepishly continue to unplug anything I see that isn't in use, and keep plugging-in to an absolute minimum.

For the bats, for the birds.

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