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View Diary: Energy - some good news (for once) (237 comments)

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  •  I'm not suggesting that wind energy be abandoned. (none)
    It was simply a question as to whether the problem has been resolved, sounds like I touched a nerve.

    Judging from the hostility in your answer I guess the problem hasn't been resolved.

    •  A nerve (4.00)
      is touched because people seem to require wind power to be so perfect before it is considered and the same standards are certainly not applied to other technologies, which is annoying at times...

      Some birds are killed, so we cannot say that it is an unexistent problem, but as pointed above, the scale of the problem is actually quite small.

      Wind power is probably the only industry to so extensively cover all the possible consequences of its activities - and to actually pay for them! And despite this, it is already pretty much competitive.

      in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

      by Jerome a Paris on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 07:09:13 AM PDT

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      •  It is too bad that it can't be made perfect, (none)
        migrating birds have enough problems as it is.

        That said, likely more die as a result of global warming than would ever be killed by windmills.  I'm not sure I like the glass window analogy.

      •  Actually there are serious problems (3.75)
        With the placement of wind turbines. In the western U.S., they are frequently placed in the same areas as major bird migration routes. This can result in major kills during certain seasons. In the eastern U.S., in Wst Virgiania, they have been found to be killing certain speicies of bats, which migrate at night.

        Most of these problems can be solved by placing turbines in non-migratory areas, and some windy areas may have to be just left to the birds. There is some work going on studying the effects of blade size and rotation rate on the mortality of birds, which may allow some turbines to be retrofitted with safer equipment.

        This is not a huge problem as yet, but we want to make sure it does not grow into the chronic problem that has resulted from large radio, TV and cell towers which are notorious for large bird mortality events, especially at night, in fog or during storms.

        Governor Brian Schweitzer: "He's sort of our Howard Dean on the ranch."

        by Ed in Montana on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 07:41:10 AM PDT

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        •  By this standard (none)
          ..we'd better close all the roads in windy areas, too.  How many birds are killed by cars and trucks?

          One single highway kills more birds than ALL the windmills in the world combined.

          I'm NOT saying that wind turbines should not be made safer.  I am saying that if we are concerned about birds and other wildlife we should attack the problems that cause the most damage first.

          Your comment (below) about decals on windows is a good one.  Each of us should do that on windows in our homes.  I did that some years back when I discovered a new second story window we installed was getting hit by flying birds.  Usually they were just stunned, but a couple of them didn't make it.  A couple of well placed decals and a hanging plant have helped a lot.  Now, how to stop killing thousands and thousands of birds by large office buildings with clear windows?

          •  Don't know about car and truck bird mortality (4.00)
            But in the case of large towers, some have recorded tens of thousands of bird mortalities in a single event for a single tower (including guy wires), usually in a storm during spring or fall migrations. This obviously can have a big efffect on some bird species.

            This sort of thing could have been prevented by more careful tower placement.

            Governor Brian Schweitzer: "He's sort of our Howard Dean on the ranch."

            by Ed in Montana on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 08:13:56 AM PDT

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            •  FCC and FAA (4.00)
              . . . tower approval requirements include certifications that large communications towers not be placed in migratory flyways.  Since that requirement was imposed, over 15 years ago, (newly constructed) tower bird kills have dramatically declined. In my former life in the radio biz, I have built and maintained numerous tall, guyed towers between 500' and 1000'.  None of these was in a migratory flyway, of course, and I could find no evidence of any bird kills at all.  A grad student naturalist did a three year long study on one of our towers and found no evidence of any kills, either.  But there are plenty of birds around them!  Numerous species seem to enjoy the tower as a perch and meeting place.  On some days many hundreds of birds are seen cavorting on or near them.
          •  I wonder (none)
            How many birds are killed by tall trees. You would think that would happen sometimes too, especially trees out by themselves on the tops of mountains and ridgelines.

            Just speculating...

        •  Bats are the problem (none)
          A recent survey in West Virginia found thousands of dead bats littering the ground under the turbines.
          BackboneMountain Windfarm Bat Death Survey
          •  and (none)
            And bats are superb navigators.

            "We cannot let terriers and rogue nations hold this nation hostile. - W, 09/09/00

            by Bob Love on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:15:52 AM PDT

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            •  that (none)
              was evidently the problem.  Their navigation skills were thrown off either by the sound waves generated by the wind turbines, or conceivably they were unable to cope with objects that gave off a different "radar" signature than anything else they encounter.

              Having concern for birds and bats, scenic vistas, and other resources is not inconsistent with support for wind energy.

              •  thats true (none)
                less bats and birds = more mosquitos = more West Nile virus cases.

                "Freedom no longer frees you!"

                by Renegade Prole on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 10:31:13 AM PDT

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                •  Ahem (none)
                  I fail to see what birds and bats have to do with preventing petro-chemical fever...

                  http://www.sickofdoctors.addr.com/articles/westnile.htm

                  "Neither falsehood nor appearance and beauty are 'foreign' to truth. They are proper to it, if not its accessories and its underside." - Luce Irigaray

                  by lucid on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 10:55:11 AM PDT

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                  •  I'm sure you're kidding (none)
                    Right?

                    No, I'm not a FReeper. Thanks.

                    by JamesInPDX on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 11:25:50 AM PDT

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                    •  Actually I wasn't (none)
                      Granted there are some crazy little articles over at sick of doctors.com, but the theory that West Nile is not viral has gotten study by a number of folks - that's just the first article that popped up on a google [and I was in a hurry]...

                      I do get very annoyed when a very "iffy" virus gets used to justify the poinsoning of my community with massive doses of malthion [which if Mark Purdey is to be believed is actually on of the precursors to CJD type diseases - http://www.purdeyenvironment.com/ ]

                      "Neither falsehood nor appearance and beauty are 'foreign' to truth. They are proper to it, if not its accessories and its underside." - Luce Irigaray

                      by lucid on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:28:35 PM PDT

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                  •  I never had heard that before. (none)
                    Interesting and I will give it a read.
                    •  Here's the best (none)
                      and most detailed study of this.

                      issue.http://www.geocities.com/noxot/

                      It's no fun breathing in Malthion here in NYC during the summer time...

                      "Neither falsehood nor appearance and beauty are 'foreign' to truth. They are proper to it, if not its accessories and its underside." - Luce Irigaray

                      by lucid on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:52:58 PM PDT

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                      •  That smell ... (none)
                        BTW, do you know if that distinctive smell is malathion itself or an additive?

                        "We cannot let terriers and rogue nations hold this nation hostile. - W, 09/09/00

                        by Bob Love on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 02:29:30 PM PDT

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                        •  Malathion has a garlicky smell (none)
                          So if you smell garlic after a spraying you are smelling malathion (or passing by an Italian resteraunt).  Some of the formulation excipients have a solvent like smell.  

                          West Nile is quite real as a virus, I had it last summer and came pretty close to leaving this mortal coil.  (No malathion is sprayed where I live or work, either).

                          Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

                          by barbwires on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 03:07:05 PM PDT

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                          •  I'm glad you made it (none)
                            I'm certainly not implying that 'west nile' is a myth, I just think the viral theory is still very tenuous at best, as no virus has yet been isolated.

                            The folks like Jim West aren't suggesting that malthion spraying causes 'west nile' either [though in a post upthread I was implicating malthion as a causal agent in other diseases like CJD (mad cow)]. Their thesis looks at it from an epidemiological standpoint and finds that all 'west nile' clusters are in regions that are heavily polluted by petro-chemicals, specifically the gasoline additive MTBE. When diseases are found to be geographically endemic to certain regions, it definitely suggests that the cause may be environmental and not viral.

                            "Neither falsehood nor appearance and beauty are 'foreign' to truth. They are proper to it, if not its accessories and its underside." - Luce Irigaray

                            by lucid on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 03:42:06 PM PDT

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        •  I have an idea (none)
          Couldn't they outfit the turbines with some sort of noise or visual marker to help the birds steer clear of the turbines.  There has to be a scientist out there working on this now.  I think its just a matter of time before the turbines become more sophisticated and more enviromentally sensitive.

          "Freedom no longer frees you!"

          by Renegade Prole on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 10:29:49 AM PDT

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      •  statistics on birds? (none)
        It's not that I doubt you, i would be interested in seeing the results of studies, if such studies have been done.
    •  Recent study says bird problem worse than thought (4.00)
      (at one particular location):

      Altamont Pass report.

      I remember an NPR story on this last year.

      Here's an article "putting bird deaths in perspective" - I looked into some of this research while addressing concerns from a bird-loving neighbor about free-roaming cats killing "her" birds... and learning that habitat loss, windows, pesticides, vehicles, cell towers cause more bird deaths.

      Here's a TomPaine.com analysis of a Cato institute study and why it's cited by petroleum-friendly rightwing environmental appointees.

      Raines

      •  actual studies (none)
        Yes, thanks for coming up with some actual studies.  I place no faith whatsoever in the assertions above that [whatever] causes [whatever] times more bird deaths.  Assertions are not information; reality is always a better basis.

        "We cannot let terriers and rogue nations hold this nation hostile. - W, 09/09/00

        by Bob Love on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:21:07 AM PDT

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        •  which birds (none)
          Also important is which birds are killed by the windmills.  Altamont Pass kills mostly Red-tailed Hawks, a common species, but also about 24 Golden Eagles per year.  The area happens to have basically the highest concentration of Golden Eagles in the world.  As the article says, Burrowing Owls are being hit pretty hard (around 50 per year IIRC) and they are a rapidly declining species to begin with.  A certain level of mortality can be maintained, but top of the food chain predators don't reproduce fast enough to tolerate alot of incidental deaths.
          •  Yup (none)
            Yes, mere quantities without breakdown by species can be enormously misleading.  I hope we get to the point soon when we can talk about energy projects' prospective impacts not only on species or classes but entire ecologies.

            Up here in the Seattle area we've got tons of red-tailed hawks (my partner is a birder, just got his 500th North American species).  We'll trade you another 1,000 hawks for a 1951 Mickey Mantle, or maybe a bit more sunlight.

            "We cannot let terriers and rogue nations hold this nation hostile. - W, 09/09/00

            by Bob Love on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 02:23:23 PM PDT

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      •  Good Post (none)
        I live in the Bay Area, and there is talk about closing down the turbines at Altamont Pass because they kill quite a few raptors (hawks) who use the prevailing winds to drift lazily while looking for lunch.  I wish there were more government funding for research into cost/benefit analysis of all types of energy on an environmental basis.

        As it stands now, government funding for alternative energy is deplorably low if you take out hydrogen fuel cells, which are just an efficient battery.  They still need to be charged with energy from another source, so they are not actually alternative energy.

        •  Aren't Altamont turbines obsolete? (none)
          I think that they have a much older technology, they are smaller and their blades rotate faster.

          If so, Altamont Pass wind-farm should be replaced.

          •  I think so (none)
            They're small and move very very fast.  Also, every time I've driven through (not too many times, maybe 5 times total) I'd guess 50% were not in use.  There was wind, but they must have been broken.  I think Altamont was one of the first projects, so it was probably very expensive and may not have paid off its financing yet (pure speculation).
      •  That's Altamont Pass data. (none)
        The wind turbines there are decades old, use much smaller and faster turbine blades and pose a threat to birds that may be orders of magnitude large than that posed by the newer generation of turbines.

        Altamont is a problem all of its own because of the collection of older technology.  Clearly the threat to bird life there needs to be addressed.  But you cannot, in all fairness, use bird kill data from Altamont to project bird kills from new turbine installations.  It would be like using car crash fatality statistics from the 1940s to predict car crash fatality rates from this year's models.  The technology has changed a lot due to increased size of blades and lower blade speed.

        •  Sorry, that article is current... (none)
          ...and deals with the "repowering".  That is quite relevant and I shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss it.  The jury is still out as to whether the new turbines will reduce bird kills significantly in Altamont Pass.

          I think my comments are still relevant where people are trying to apply Altamont data to new installations, though.

        •  Yes (none)
          Altamont needs to be shut down.  I think it could easily be replaced by a dozen giant turbines in the bay, and they'd make a great scenic enhancement, with little or no risk to birds.

          Plus, it would help to eliminate the argument over bird safety and wind towers.

      •  site not found (none)
        "putting bird deaths in perspective" site not found; alternatives?

        "We cannot let terriers and rogue nations hold this nation hostile. - W, 09/09/00

        by Bob Love on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 02:32:59 PM PDT

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        •  The link worked for me. (none)
          And I haven't been able to find any mirrors of the article.  Try it again and if you can't get it to work I'll email you a PDF of the article.

          otherdoug66 at yahoo.com

          •  Okay, it works now (none)
            Printing it out now.  Thanks for the offer though.

            "We cannot let terriers and rogue nations hold this nation hostile. - W, 09/09/00

            by Bob Love on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 05:09:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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