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Climate Change Researchers at Michigan Technological Institute have developed a method for growing "carpets" of boron nitride nanotubes.

Published on October 28th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

5

Wind Turbines Don’t Kill Birds; Coal Plants Do

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October 28th, 2009 by
 
A very detailed and complex study (pdf) Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to the US Electricity Supply weighing the costs and benefits of increasing wind power to 20% by 2030 included some very interesting projections on bird extinction numbers expected from climate change.

While it may not be news to cleantechnica readers that climate change will kill more members of more species than wind turbines, it is interesting to see the actual figures comparing bird loss from climate change versus from wind turbines.

The study found at least 950 entire species of terrestrial birds that will be threatened with extinction as a result of climate change under several scenarios, even at the lower estimate of temperature gains, just counting species of non-sea birds in the higher latitudes; outside the tropics.

Species of birds inside the tropics will additionally decline from continued deforestation, which in turn, further exacerbates global climate change and results in land conversion, which further threatens habitat more directly. The combined total would be 1,800 species lost. (Jetz, Wilcove, and Dobson 2007).

A study from the National Research Council last year tallied bird kills from total anthropogenic bird deaths, and found collisions with wind turbines comprised a minute fraction of human interaction bird deaths. Only 3 out of 100,000 anthropogenic bird deaths were from turbines. Cats and buildings had a far higher kill rate.

Nevertheless, The Heartland Institute, a well known climate change denier group, puts out regular bulletins keeping the idea alive that wind farms are bird killing machines. Their claim that Altamont Pass kills 4,700 birds a year is wildly at odds with both the original NREL counts (pg 22) and the Defenders of Wildlife count of 96 tallied at the now obsolete small turbines built in the 70′s, the worlds oldest and deadliest wind farm.

However, even the if we go with the Exxon-funded group’s figure; the death of individual birds is quite different from the extinction of entire species of birds.

In the meantime we generate over 2 billion metric tons annually from fossil fueled electricity.

As for the new objection that building wind turbines generates CO2, the study found:

“Manufacturing wind turbines and building wind plants together generate only minimal amounts of CO2 emissions.  One university study that examined the issue (White and Kulsinski 1998) found that when these emissions are analyzed on a life-cycle basis, wind energy’s CO2 emissions are extremely low—about 1% of those from coal, or 2% of those from natural gas, per unit of electricity generated.”

Source: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to the US Electricity Supply (pdf)

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • Rich Rebman

    I have a pdf available on the health effects of elemental mercury in emissions from old power plants burning Western coal and coal bed methane. It include how to get rid of it both internally and globally. Children conceived while parents are breathing wildfire smoke are at risk of autistic disorder spectrum.

    It documents the crimes committed by the governments at all levels in all it’s agencies, the energy and mining industries, as well as the medical and pharma industries. They have allowed us to be poisoned and gassed to provide them jobs and and other income security. Rich Rebman, TheInfoEqualizer@aol.com

  • Rich Rebman

    I have a pdf available on the health effects of elemental mercury in emissions from old power plants burning Western coal and coal bed methane. It include how to get rid of it both internally and globally. Children conceived while parents are breathing wildfire smoke are at risk of autistic disorder spectrum.

    It documents the crimes committed by the governments at all levels in all it’s agencies, the energy and mining industries, as well as the medical and pharma industries. They have allowed us to be poisoned and gassed to provide them jobs and and other income security. Rich Rebman, TheInfoEqualizer@aol.com

  • Steve Thiese

    Big coal can kill birds either by emissions from burning coal or from destroying prime bird habitat when mining. Two colleagues — Clair Jones of Utah Chapter Sierra Club, and Emily Fehrenbacher of Alaska — as well as many dedicated others, have been working diligently to get the NoBassCoal Campaign off the ground here in Utah. We held our first event, The NoBassCoal Campaign Kick-off and Press Conference” on November 12 at 12 p.m., to inform Utahans that Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort owner, Dick Bass, is investing in what will be the largest strip mine ever in Alaska. The Chuitna Coal Project will destroy 30 square miles of salmon, bear and moose habitat in a pristine wilderness of Alaska , and dump millions of pound of CO2 into the atmosphere, eventually destroying Utah ’s famous powder snow as well. But we are going to stop this mine!

    We had a great first event turnout of around 50, and at least 8 media outlets there as well, including Fox News. Speakers included Clair and Emily, and Forrest Shearer, a pro snowboarder with Protect Our Winters, who also happens to be sponsored by Snowbird. They all gave a rundown of how the mine will affect both Utah and Alaska, and displayed our campaign artwork, which we have been developing with the help of a fantastic design company based in L.A.

    Here is the awesome story that our local Fox News affiliate aired about our event:

    http://www.fox13now.com/news/kstu-environmentalists-want-snowbird-abandon-coal-,0,3254324.story

    Thanks to everyone who supported this event, and there will be many more to follow! We will keep at this until Dick Bass backs out of dirty coal!

  • Steve Thiese

    Big coal can kill birds either by emissions from burning coal or from destroying prime bird habitat when mining. Two colleagues — Clair Jones of Utah Chapter Sierra Club, and Emily Fehrenbacher of Alaska — as well as many dedicated others, have been working diligently to get the NoBassCoal Campaign off the ground here in Utah. We held our first event, The NoBassCoal Campaign Kick-off and Press Conference” on November 12 at 12 p.m., to inform Utahans that Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort owner, Dick Bass, is investing in what will be the largest strip mine ever in Alaska. The Chuitna Coal Project will destroy 30 square miles of salmon, bear and moose habitat in a pristine wilderness of Alaska , and dump millions of pound of CO2 into the atmosphere, eventually destroying Utah ’s famous powder snow as well. But we are going to stop this mine!

    We had a great first event turnout of around 50, and at least 8 media outlets there as well, including Fox News. Speakers included Clair and Emily, and Forrest Shearer, a pro snowboarder with Protect Our Winters, who also happens to be sponsored by Snowbird. They all gave a rundown of how the mine will affect both Utah and Alaska, and displayed our campaign artwork, which we have been developing with the help of a fantastic design company based in L.A.

    Here is the awesome story that our local Fox News affiliate aired about our event:

    http://www.fox13now.com/news/kstu-environmentalists-want-snowbird-abandon-coal-,0,3254324.story

    Thanks to everyone who supported this event, and there will be many more to follow! We will keep at this until Dick Bass backs out of dirty coal!

  • Steve Thiese

    Big coal can kill birds either by emissions from burning coal or from destroying prime bird habitat when mining. Two colleagues — Clair Jones of Utah Chapter Sierra Club, and Emily Fehrenbacher of Alaska — as well as many dedicated others, have been working diligently to get the NoBassCoal Campaign off the ground here in Utah. We held our first event, The NoBassCoal Campaign Kick-off and Press Conference” on November 12 at 12 p.m., to inform Utahans that Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort owner, Dick Bass, is investing in what will be the largest strip mine ever in Alaska. The Chuitna Coal Project will destroy 30 square miles of salmon, bear and moose habitat in a pristine wilderness of Alaska , and dump millions of pound of CO2 into the atmosphere, eventually destroying Utah ’s famous powder snow as well. But we are going to stop this mine!

    We had a great first event turnout of around 50, and at least 8 media outlets there as well, including Fox News. Speakers included Clair and Emily, and Forrest Shearer, a pro snowboarder with Protect Our Winters, who also happens to be sponsored by Snowbird. They all gave a rundown of how the mine will affect both Utah and Alaska, and displayed our campaign artwork, which we have been developing with the help of a fantastic design company based in L.A.

    Here is the awesome story that our local Fox News affiliate aired about our event:

    http://www.fox13now.com/news/kstu-environmentalists-want-snowbird-abandon-coal-,0,3254324.story

    Thanks to everyone who supported this event, and there will be many more to follow! We will keep at this until Dick Bass backs out of dirty coal!

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