Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Turbines vs. Birds: Round 134,983

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on November 5, 2007

The Oregonian highlights wind turbine-related bird fatalities:

The numbers sound small: Nationwide, collisions kill about 2.3 birds of all varieties per turbine per year, studies show. In the Northwest, it’s about 1.9 birds per turbine. That could mean more than 3,000 bird deaths a year in the gorge.

But birders say those numbers are meaningless because the totals make no distinction between abundant and rare species. Golden eagles and ferruginous hawks — a threatened species in Washington — already are few in number, said Michael Denny of the Blue Mountain Audubon Society, and even a few fatalities could prove devastating.

Many existing or proposed wind farms in Washington and Oregon are located in the eastern Columbia River Valley, an area that overlaps with the breeding grounds of the aforementioned ferruginous hawk.

Basically, the whole matter is summed up nicely by Darren Huseby, regional director of development company enXco:

“The reality of our economy, our way of life is that we need to build certain facilities to provide electricity,” and they will have certain effects on the environment, he said. “It’s a societal question: What degree of (bird) mortality are they willing to accept?”

The tradeoffs are clear. Wind turbines are going to have some negative impact on bird populations (unless, perhaps, if they are sited offshore). However, burning coal and natural gas for electricity has obvious consequences as well. This is a classic case for cost-benefit analysis and another reason environmental valuation is such an important technique to develop.

H/T: Matter Network. Nice title as well.

One Response to “Turbines vs. Birds: Round 134,983”

  1. Turbine blades can be ‘marked’ with same color configuration used on the Firefly which diverts raptoirs from power lines

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