Target: Sally Jewell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior
Goal: Urge creation of wind farms that minimize harm to bird and bat populations
The continuing debate over wind energy prompts us to confront one major barrier to expansion of this alternative energy source. One of the biggest objections to wind power comes from concerns over the thousands of birds and bats that die each year after flying into wind turbines. Proponents of wind power reiterate that no alternative energy form is without costs, emphasizing the importance of putting the numbers into context. For instance, bird deaths attributed to American households and office buildings number in the hundreds of millions, far beyond those due to wind turbines, according to Oklahoma State University findings. However, the turbines’ threat to federally protected species like the golden eagle in particular has fueled the search for effective conservation management measures. No simple solution exists to satisfy all competing interests.
Strategies to increase turbines’ visibility to birds show some promise, and range from painting the turbines high contrast colors to fitting them with noisemakers. Yet, the efficacy of such measures remains unproven. Collaboration between scientists and wind energy companies, on the other hand, has achieved a measure of success, coordinating actions like shutting down wind farms when large numbers of migrating birds come near them.
Such examples underscore the importance of greater collaboration between wind companies and farmers, the latter of whom generally rent out or lease their land for turbine use. Because making wind power more bird and bat friendly would entail designing the land differently, particularly by creating large areas on the ground for birds to descend safely, such cooperation is crucial to two aims: the development of renewable wind power and the conservation of birds and bats.
Please sign the petition below, and express your support of this teamwork. The future of our energy and our wildlife hangs in the balance.
Dear Secretary Jewell,
I am writing in regards to the continuing debate over the viability of wind power as a renewable energy source. As you know, major opposition to wind power comes in the form of concern over the thousands of birds and bats that die flying into wind turbines. Yet, changing the design of wind farms to reduce their threat to birds and bats leads must find approval in the farmers whose land is often rented or leased by wind companies. For example, such strategies have looked to creating large areas on the ground where birds can descend to safety can minimize turbines’ harm to them.
I ask you to pave the way for greater collaboration between farmers and wind companies. Such cooperation has seen success in places like Spain where wind companies and scientists have coordinated the shutting down of wind farms to allow for the safe passing of large flocks of migratory birds. In the United States, this collaboration between both agriculture and energy interests can help further the development of renewable wind power and animal conservation. I urge you to consider this framework. Your leadership is crucial to the future of our energy and our wildlife.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Leaflet via Wikimedia Commons