Target: H. David Ramm, CEO of BrightSource Energy
Goal: Forgo plans to build a larger version of a solar plant in the Mojave Desert, which is directly killing thousands of birds
BrightSource Energy is a solar company that provides electricity by harnessing the sun’s rays. While a noteworthy departure from our doomed dependence on fossil fuels, the company’s latest installation has caused several thousand bird fatalities. According to estimates by the Center for Biological Diversity, 28,000 birds are expected to die every year due to the sun’s heavily reflected light. Given this new plant’s immense success, BrightSource’s board of directors has already announced plans to build even larger versions of this lethal apparatus.
The solar installation, which operates via 300,000 mirrors reflecting light up to 40 stories high, supplies electricity to thousands of nearby homes. However, with massive bird mortality rates, is this technology environmentally more harmful than it is helpful? NBC reported that one bird dies every two minutes at the California-Nevada plant. Birds become instantly scorched once they pass through the mirrors’ “concentrated sun rays.” The event has become so chronic, in fact, that workers have dubbed the birds “streamers” after the signature trail of smoke that follows every ignited bird.
Wildlife experts suggest that this phenomenon occurs because the glimmering light attracts numerous insects, which in turn draws the predatory birds. Now, BrightSource intends on constructing a solar plant that reflects light up to 75 stories high, almost double the height of the aforementioned construction. While this will mean a greater amount of harnessed solar power, it will also most likely result in higher bird fatalities.
Urge BrightSource’s CEO to delay the construction of more solar plants until the environmental damage of the current plant is fully assessed. The pursuit for clean energy isn’t “clean” if it involves thousands of animal deaths.
Dear Mr. Ramm,
BrightSource Energy’s solar plant in the Mojave Desert is killing thousands of helpless birds. Though your pursuit for clean energy is noble, any technology that causes massive animal casualties should be reevaluated and improved. Your solar technology is no exception, which is why I urge you to halt larger installations from being developed before the overall environmental damage of this plant is assessed.
According to federal wildlife officials who inspected your compound, one bird dies every two minutes, becoming instantly ignited once it passes over the reflective mirrors. The death of these animals should not be taken lightly, yet workers at your compound have taken to playfully calling the scorched birds “streamers” because of the trail of smoke that follows every ignited bird.
For conservationists to be truly “green,” they must respect all environmental aspects, both living and nonliving. Though solar energy is a small step toward breaking our fatal dependence on fossil fuels, animal casualties of this magnitude are unacceptable. Please reevaluate your solar technology to help reduce animal fatalities and delay larger solar plant installations until this problem is solved.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Steve Partridge via Wikimedia Commons