Study shows wind turbines kill very few birds

Donald Trump has talked about bird collisions as one of the reasons that he hates wind turbines. Indeed, one of the most often used arguments against wind turbines run along the lines of ” do you hate the birds? then why do you want to erect wind turbines?This is a completely false premise, indeed if someone likes birds you are likely to be heavily in favor of wind turbines and other carbon cutting measures, as global warming is likely to wipe out many species.

Nonetheless this belief had not been looked into in enough detail to accept or reject the hypothesis that wind turbines are bad for birds.

In actual fact, the study showed that birds are exceptionally good at avoiding wind turbines, and looking at one specific huge wind farm on a migration route, they found that at least 99% of the birds that flew through rather than over or around the wind farm survived.

Furthermore, a Norwegian study in September found that by painting one of the turbine blades black, bird strikes were reduced a further 72%. In a pure numbers analysis, nuclear and wind power are thought to kill 0.4 birds per gigawatt hour, compared to 5.2 per gigawatt hour of fossil fuel produced power. That is a full 13 times greater – making a complete mockery of Trumps arguement.

A more accurate complaint might be, that I do not want to see the death my electricity generation creates – a bird strike death will lead to a dead bird under the turbine, whereas a death caused by a coal plant, may take hours or days or weeks and so despite being fully responsible for the death the body could be hundreds of miles from the power plant.

It is estimated that 2.4 billion birds die a year because of cats, about 600 million due to collision with glass, 214 million vehicle collision, 25 million collisions with power lines and 5.6 million electricution. In comparison only around 234,012 die from wind turbines – and if a blade of each was painted black, this could potentially fall to just 70,000 worldwide. while this sounds like a large number it is insignificant (one estimate suggests in the USA alone between 500 million and a billion birds are killed each year by various means. Not going green is going to kill far more birds.

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