BIRDS AND WINDFARMS - BIRD GENOCIDE AT WINDFARM SITES
DECEIT, COVER UP, ALL THE WAY UP TO SUPPRESSION OF EVIDENCE AND FALSIFICATION OF DATA.
WIND ENERGY CASUALTIES: NAVARRE´S WINDFARMS KILL OVER 400 GRIFFON VULTURES EVERY YEAR, PLUS GOLDEN EAGLES, EAGLE OWLS AND OTHER PROTECTED SPECIES OF BIRDS AND BATS.
VERSION CASTELLANA: Eólica - Genocidio de aves en los parques eólicos.
A little while ago I obtained a copy of the elusive Lekuona report* on bird mortality at windfarms of Navarre, Spain. I read the 147 pages, and was stunned. Stunned by the extent of the massacre being perpetrated in that part of the Pyrenees: 6,450 birds and 650 bats yearly. And these are incomplete figures: they correspond to 368 wind turbines only, whereas there are nearly 1,000 of them in that province. Besides, they do not include the birds that collide with tension lines connecting the “farms” to the grid; nor those that die out of the search zone after being wounded; nor those that are hurled away by the blades (this has been witnessed); nor the exhausted migrants that may fail to reach their destination because of the farms – see my complete analysis on Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites. .
* LEKUONA report (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/CASTELLANO/Informe_LEKUONA.pdf)
To get an idea of what this would mean on a national scale, I extrapolated the figures based on the 25,000 turbines that Spain will need in order to produce 20% of its electricity with the wind, say 15 years from now:
20 PER TURBINE x 25,000 TURBINES = 500.000 x 30 years = 15 MILLION VICTIMS, IN SPAIN ALONE.
This, of course, is an approximation, but it gives an idea of the magnitude of the problem in the long run – say, over a 30 year period.
The wind industry objects that cats, cars and windowpanes may kill more birds than that – as if one massacre justified another. However, among the birds mangled by the blades are many protected species, some of them in danger of extinction. – CATS DO NOT KILL EAGLES, STORKS AND CRANES: WINDFARMS DO.
Among the 6,450 dead birds, we find 409 griffon vultures. That specie was recently brought back to healthy levels through considerable efforts: how long will it survive now, with 25,000 giant propellers slashing through the air? And what are the chances for the rare lammergeiers, and the 6 species of eagles that find refuge in the sierras targeted by windpower executives? – And what about the birds of the steppes, where windfarms are also being erected? There is little doubt that bustards, cranes and storks will be decimated in their own habitats, as are vultures and eagles in their mountains.
Finding out about this genocide didn’t come easy. For the government of Navarre did not make public the Lekuona findings. And in the report itself the figures are not available outright. It is necessary to read through to page 89, and perform some calculations.
The report, as it transpires, has been touched up before going to print. In the summary, for instance, the estimated mortality figure was falsified. Where it should say: “20 victims per turbine per year”, it reads instead: “0.03 victims per turbine/mo.” – i.e. 0.03 x 368 turbines = 11 victims. And if you notice the “/mo.” at the end of the word “turbine”: 11 x 12 = 132 victims.
THE SUMMARY DISCLOSES A MORTALITY OF 132 WHERE THERE HAVE BEEN 7,150 (!)
I contacted Dr. Lekuona, author of the report: he said that the summary as published by the government “did not reflect reality”. He also informed that the authorities did not want the public to have access to his report. He himself has been denied the right to disclose his findings in publications.
IF THIS IS NOT A COVER UP, THEN WHAT IS?
Apart from the high mortality figures, the Lekuona report contains valuable information about the sinister effects of the “farms” on migrating birds, about the high incidence of scavengers that remove most of the evidence, etc. – see Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
It is surprising, and shocking, that a democratic government would resort to hiding information and falsifying figures to deceive the public – and get away with it.
This prompted me to investigate some more.
So I took a second look at another field study, the one performed by SEO/Birdlife on the Tarifa windfarms (ended June 1995). - And I found many irregularities there as well, all greatly minimizing the public’s perception of the carnage – see Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
So, naturally, I asked myself: is this kind of deceit only practiced in Spain, or is it a worldwide phenomenon?
By coincidence, I received shortly thereafter a report published by the California Energy Commission (dated June 2002) on a long-term study of the golden eagle population around Altamont Pass – site of the world’s biggest windfarm.
I analyzed it carefully, only to find that the American report is also deceiving the public.
To wit: the mortality is estimated at 40-60 golden eagles a year, whereas in reality 42 eagle carcasses “casually” found by windfarm employees represent “only a fraction of the total fatalities present” – words of the author (page 6).
As in Navarre, the summary contradicts the body of the report.
But it goes one step further, trying to convince us that the massacre of golden eagles has no effect on the evolution of their population from one year to the next. And as the figures point to a regression in the eagle population, use is being made of a bizarre mathematical model to try and prove the contrary – see Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
Mathematical models may fool some of the people some of the time...
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT THE CALIFORNIA POPULATION OF GOLDEN EAGLES IS BEING THINNED DOWN AT ALTAMONT. IT IS THE DREADED “BLACK HOLE EFFECT”. - see Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
Finally, I got hold of the report prepared by Birdlife International on behalf of the Council of Europe for the Bern Convention (Sept/Oct. 2002):
Deceit is to be found here in many parts, not just in the summary. Examples:
The summary puts forward “very low collision mortality rates attributable to wind farms”. Yet, in Paragraph 2.50, we notice a mortality rate of 0.1 per turbine (Urk (Winkelman 1989) and Oosterbierum (Winkelman 1992a) Holland). It does not sound like much, but we are talking here about a “daily” rate: this translates into 36.5 dead birds per turbine/year.
To put things into perspective, this is equivalent to 2.2 million dead birds per annum for 60,000 turbines (a number that the European Community will easily top within 10 years).
An alarming mortality rate was also registered in Belgium by biologist J. Everaert. Oddly, this is not reflected in paragraph 2.54 covering his study: the emphasis is placed on other things (!). I had to contact Dr. Everaert directly to obtain the figures – see Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
Paragraph 2.56 deals with the report we already talked about, on Tarifa. First irregularity: it quotes an improper figure. Second: not a word is said about the fact that the mortality of small birds was not considered in the study. This is unacceptable, highly misleading, for the reader gets the impression that these windfarms kill only 106 birds a year, which is totally false.
In Paragraph 2.53 on the Blyth windfarm in the United Kingdom (Still et al. 1996), we are only given the number of dead birds that were found on the shore. Yet, a test evidenced the existence of a current that takes floating objects out to sea.
Finally, and contrary to the deceitful summary, we find quantity of disturbing data in the body of the report:
- many species of migrating birds fly by night, and at turbine height.
- precious little is known about night migration routes, meaning that windpower companies could not spare these highways of the sky if they wanted to.
- windfarms placed on hills and mountain crests are not only deadly to eagles, vultures etc.: they also threaten high-flying migrants because this is where these fly closer to the ground.
- high flyers also come within range of the blades of the turbines when they descend to, and ascend from, stopover points along the migration route.
- we are warned that turbines of the new generation have larger blades that reach higher in the sky, affecting new species of birds - yet the summary delivers a different message, not in the least detrimental to the new turbines.
- offshore, wind turbines attract birds: these come to rest on platforms, access ramps and walkways, or on the flat tops of generators. And at night, they are drawn by the lights. - It is clear that, with such characteristics, offshore windfarms will exert a fatal attraction on marine birdlife - and this will affect ospreys, sea eagles, gyrfalcons and other endangered species in their respective habitats. :
Note: the Birdlife report was corrected after my critiques were made public - for both versions of the report, see section 4 of: Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
Windfarms are not benign to avian life: quite the opposite. Since I first published this article in February 2003, I have uncovered more evidence proving that millions of birds (and bats) are effectively being killed**. Emblematic species such as eagles, swans, geese, bustards, cranes, storks, ospreys, falcons, kites, harriers etc. are being affected.
But everything is being done to minimize the fact, while promoting the "goodness" of this new form of energy.
** Chilling Statistics
These deadly obstacles, erected where some of our rarest and most remarkable birds fly, are coming on top of other causes of mortality such as power lines, telecommunication towers (and their deadly guy wires), cars, cats, buildings, windows, pollution, poaching, poisoning, loss of habitat, etc. Their effect, being additional to so many others, will be severe on the world´s already shrinking biodiversity.
Migration hotspots are being cluttered with turbines in different parts of the world. In the Americas, for instance, they will erect over 5,000 of them across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the Nº 1 migration bottleneck in the world. The Mexican bird society, which I contacted, won´t oppose the catastrophic project. - As elsewhere in the world, ornithologists stand to benefit from research money being spent on avian impact studies, and from direct contributions made to their associations. The RSPB, for instance, receives revenues from Scottish & Southern Energy, linked to the sale of "RSPB energy" in Scotland. And SEO/Birdlife, in Spain, receives contributions from Iberdrola and Banco Triodos - both of which promote wind energy.
The conflict of interest is evident.
First published: February 23rd 2003
Partial update: November 24 2005
Complete update: not done.
The negative effects of windfarms: links to papers published by Mark Duchamp (in English)
Energía eólica - enlaces a los artículos de Mark Duchamp (en Español)[
>> Autor: Mark Duchamp (08/12/2003)
>> Fuente: Mark Duchamp
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