Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
How many birds should we slaughter in the name of saving the planet?
Michael Shellenberger has devoted the past 17 years of his life to the battle against climate change. When I began researching that topic, the 2009 book he coauthored with Ted Nordhaus was one of the first things I read.
My own, big-picture climate analysis may differ from Shellenberger’s, but he’s sensible and intelligent. Last week, in an article titled Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet, he says there was a time when he didn’t take the threat that wind turbines pose to birds seriously. After all, house cats kill many more birds each year.
But as we’ve collectively gained experience with wind turbines, opinions have evolved. Shellenberger now points out that house cats prey on
small, common birds, like sparrows, robins and jays. What kills big, threatened, and endangered birds – birds that could go extinct – like hawks, eagles, owls, and condors, are wind turbines.
In fact, wind turbines are the most serious new threat to important bird species to emerge in decades. The rapidly spinning turbines act like an apex predator which big birds never evolved to deal with.
The double standards around bird deaths have long exasperated me. In 2009, I observed that an oil company had been fined over half a million dollars because 17 migratory birds per year, during a five year period (for a total of 85 birds), had died after landing in that company’s wastewater ponds.
Why is killing birds a crime when oil companies do it – but not when wind companies are involved? Why is there zero tolerance in one context and carte blanche in another?
In 2013, I reported that, after a bird not seen in the UK for 22 years was spotted, bird watchers travelled to a remote location to celebrate its return – only to witness its demise as it flew into a wind turbine.
School children climate activists have no shortage of slogans, pat answers, and hubris. But it’s humility we all need. In the messy real world, too many of the ‘solutions’ to climate change are adversely impacting the environmental.
Astronomical sums of money have been spent building wind turbines in recent years. This money tcould have accomplished something good and useful.
Shellenberger’s clear-eyed explanation of why nuclear power is superior to wind and solar power applies whether you consider climate change a crisis or a non-issue. I encourage you to click through and read it here.
This blog will resume Monday, March 18th.