May 29 2013

Windturbines & Condors

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Wind turbines are thought to be one of the (potentially) most successful aspects of renewable energy available, given the current state of technology and economic conditions. Some of the largest wind turbines in the United States are located throughout California while researchers in the Outer Banks, just as an example, are struggling to get permits in order to implement them along the coast. There are common problems associated with the implementation of wind turbines, mostly concerns over noise pollution and then disturbing the view; however, some areas of the United States also have endangered species to worry about and, given the location, could mean that these types of renewable energy could endanger other species.
Such is the case near the Mojave Desert in California in regards to their condors. Here is what a condor looks like:

California Condor

California Condor

Condors were nearly extinct twenty years ago and there has been intense conservation efforts taken to bring them back from the brink. Researchers are now worried that the wind turbines near the Mojave Desert may pose a new threat to the condors because on Friday news sources revealed that wind-energy project would not have to face criminal charges if their blades kill a condor. Kelly Fuller, member of the American Bird Conservancy, stated that “this blindsided folks” and that the public was “not aware that allowing unrealized condor deaths was being considered there…”
Of course, there are multiple sides to this problem, even among those who are on the same side, so to speak. Lisa Belenky, who is a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, said that “we really need a global solution, not one at a time,” which is a common overall approach to wind energy. Amy Krause, who works for the Interior Department, pointed out that there have never been recorded instances of condor mortality in association with any form of wind turbine but admits that the government must consider the possibility. Most research shows that birds will avoid wind turbines and try to fly around them. With carefully observation and placement of the wind turbines, it’s highly likely that the effect of the wind turbines on bird populations can be minimized. The project that is to take place near the Mojave Desert is calling for a slow, thirty-year implementation, providing a wide gap that could be used for assessment of potential negative environmental effects.

Barringer, Felicity. Turbine Planes Unnerve Fans of Condors in California. 2013. The New York Times Online.

One response so far

One Response to “Windturbines & Condors”

  1.   pcanderson 30 May 2013 at 10:26 pm

    This is a fascinating look at the threat that energy resources pose to the creatures around them. I find it of particular interest that the danger presented to birds like the Condor is constantly highlighted by the media in regard to wind and solar electrical generating facilities. We rarely hear of the constant threats posed to our environment by the fossil fuel industry. This lack of public reporting on the effects of the fossil fuel industry on the environment certainly levels the public with a distorted view the environmental impact of wind and solar power.

    It remains highly important to look at the possible detrimental effects that wind turbines can have on species like the condor. However, I believe that environmentalists must also remember take into account the disastrous threat of remaining dependent on fossil fuels. If we fail to find a clean renewable source of energy then we risk endangering not only vulnerable species like the condor but our own existence as well.