Audubon Society "Strongly Supports Wind Power"

The issue of bird deaths caused by wind turbines still creates knots in the stomachs of many treehuggers: despite evidence that harnessing wind energy has a relatively light impact on birds with proper planning and siting, opponents of new wind projects consistently conjure up images of wind turbine blades coated in blood and feathers (or at least turbines surrounded by avian carcasses). Wind opponents can count on at least one less potential ally, though, as one of the US' oldest conservation organizations, the National Audubon Society, has publicly declared its support for continued wind development, and its belief that the climate crisis poses a much bigger risk to our feathered friends:

In the November-December installment of [Audubon] magazine, [NAS president John] Flicker wrote a column stating that Audubon "strongly supports wind power as a clean alternative energy source," pointing to the link between global warming and the birds and other wildlife that scientist say it will kill. The venerable environmental organization and avian champion was now on record as embracing wind power. ...

In an interview with AWEA's Wind Energy Weekly industry newsletter, Flicker said that the organization's decision to speak out about wind came as a result of the recent increased urgency on the part of the scientific community with respect to global warming. Specifically, he cited a recent study by John Hansen for the National Academy of Sciences suggesting that if greenhouse gases are not reduced in the next decade, a significant number of plants and animals could face extinction by the middle of the century.

"It creates a sense of urgency beyond anything we have seen before," said Flicker, adding that he wants to ensure his organization is not an obstacle for wind power but a help. "I want to make sure Audubon is doing everything we can to promote both conservation and wind energy."

Flicker summed up the Audubon perspective with stark directness. "When you look at a wind turbine, you can find the bird carcasses and count them," he said. "With a coal-fired power plant, you can't count the carcasses, but it's going to kill a lot more birds."

Flicker's column followed an article in the September-October issue of Audubon that examined the issue in depth. Writer Michelle Nijhuis noted that much research must still be done on wind turbines and farms' impact on birds and bats, and that wind developers often don't want to take time to do the most thorough impact assessments. Still, she notes the partnership efforts between NAS and AWEA, and claims that wind turbines and bird species can co-exist peacefully if developers and government officials do their homework. ::Renewable Energy Access, UPI, Lime.com, and kauaianken at Hugg

Tags: Birds | Energy | Wind Power

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