Are wind turbines killing off the whooping crane population?

The Whooping Crane

The Whooping Crane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An attempt to stimulate discussion about whether or not wind turbines could kill off all endangered whooping cranes in only five years, as some environmentalists suggest.

Guest post by Caleb Shaw

I am having trouble getting to the bottom of a serious issue, (or a serious issue for a bird lover like myself.) It may well be that wind turbines are killing endangered birds, and may lead to the extinction of the California Condor and the Whooping Crane.

Because wind turbines involve a great deal of capital, (not merely the big-bucks of fat-cats, but also and especially the political capital surrounding the save-the-world idea of Global Warming,) the bullying of media-warping power politics seems to be involved.  You can’t get a straight answer to a simple question.

All I want to know is whether or not the population of whooping crane has fallen by over a hundred, since wind turbines were erected in their flyways.

I think it may well have happened, but because the government would get bad press if such was “a fact,” the facts get muddled. The government is on record as saying wind turbines are good, and has invested huge amounts of taxpayer’s money in erecting them.  They will downplay bad news.  One way to downplay is to change the way of counting whooping cranes. For 61 years an aerial count was used. Now a new “hierarchical distance sampling” is used, and gives a number with an absurd degree of uncertainty. .

What is the degree of uncertainty?  “Plus or minus 61 whooping cranes.”  That could be as much as a half of the total population. It is a failure to give an honest questioner an honest answer.

261 would not be good news, but would indicate the population was at least holding steady, however, if you subtract 61 from the positive direction and go 61 in the other direction, you have 139 whooping cranes, which is an environmental disaster.
It also would be a political inconvenience, and a business inconvenience to all fat cats who have invested huge amounts of money into the enormous, towering, and very ugly turbines.

However I always thought true environmentalists didn’t care about what was inconvenient for politicians, and inconvenient for fat cats, and instead cared about what was inconvenient for whooping cranes.

When you can’t even get the data that matters, not even from the Environmental Protection Agency, it starts to look like environmentalists have been bought out by, and have sold out to, fat cats and politicians. I always thought that was the one thing that environmentalists never, ever would do.

I figured environmentalists needed to be warned.  Therefore I left the following comment, (actually a sort of letter-to-the-editor,) at the environmentalist website Wind Turbine Syndrome, on the post:   http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/2012/the-free-flying-whooping-crane-population-will-be-lost-within-5-years-avian-wildlife-expert/#comment-20922
“I have linked to your story in a post at my obscure website: http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/for-the-birds/
I have also left links to your post when I comment at other websites.

The problem is that environmentalists have overused the sympathy of the public, because some less-than-altruistic environmentalists have raised the alarm, but have done so for reasons that involve political and even business interests.  By allowing such people to infiltrate our ranks we have dug a grave for ourselves, because we are now like the little boy who cried wolf.  When we raise the alarm, the public rolls their eyes and doesn’t listen.
An example of such a false alarm may well be the “snail darter,” which is a small fish which lives in a California delta.  Because California’s climate has included both copious rainfalls and withering droughts, the delta has varied hugely, and the little fish has evolved to cope with tremendous variations. However the environmentalists involved made it sound like the slightest bit of irrigation in America’s richest farmland, (which has the longest growing season,) could wipe the obscure minnow out, by reducing the water in the delta.

While there are good arguments on both sides, the uproar made environmentalists look bad for two reasons. First, it made them look like they cared more for a few hundred minnows than feeding hundreds of thousands of Americans.  Second, it made them look like liars, when it turned out that particular minnow had survived horrific historic droughts when the delta was practically dry. Once environmentalists have been made to look bad in this manner, the public is slow to forgive the stain on their reputation.

The whooping crane population was down to around 21 in 1941.  It was only due to the work of altruistic environmentalists, who worked hand in hand with Washington DC, that the population bounced back to over 200.  It is a triumph, and shows environmentalism at its best.

We need to return to that goodness, but we cannot do so with people who abuse environmentalism in our ranks.  We are like a beautiful garden, but our ranks contain some rank weeds.

Some of our members are merely young, and need the guidance of older and wiser members. However others are rather obviously more interested in money, quick profits, and power politics than anything that has to do with keeping nature in balance, and beautiful creatures alive.

None of us much likes to be disagreeable, but we had better disagree with these people, who are actually fakes and phonies.  In the most polite manner possible, we need to bring up the truth and demand the facts, and confront them.  They are corrupting a beautiful thing, and if we don’t stand up for what environmentalism stands for, we are standing by as a sewer pipe pollutes a beautiful river, but in this case the river is environmentalism itself.

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91 thoughts on “Are wind turbines killing off the whooping crane population?

  1. Oh dear oh dear, environmentalists turned out not to be the fearless seekers of truth and doers of right you thought? Sorry to see your illusions crumble. *Everyone* is self-interested and corruptible – that’s why we like separation of powers and checks and balances.

    On more specific points, citing an uncertainty on a measurement is a good thing and should always be encouraged. The fact you don’t like how uncertain the measurement is means more research is needed to make the measurement more accurate, not that someone is trying to cheat you.

    Call me cynical, but I think I’ve found a pattern in opinions regarding wind farms. They are ugly, noisy, bird-shredding, health destroying blights on modern civilisation… unless you have one on your land. See, turbine owners pay good money to lease very small parcels of land to put turbines on (around $5,000 per annum for a quarter of an acre to put a turbine on is fairly typical). That’s good money – there aren’t many sorts of farming that will earn you $20k per acre, especially since the farmer can still use most of the land for grazing. Now, funnily enough, once someone offers to put one on your land, your opinion changes. They’re not ugly any more, they’re graceful. All the research shows the average turbine kills somewhere between 0.6 and 1 bird per year – compare that to the *billions* of birds killed by windows each year! There’s no evidence at all that turbines produce significant quantities of low-frequency noise at any distance or that it could have any sort of health impact if they did. Turbine developments aren’t opposed by communities, only by very vocal minorities who are mis-guided, needing education.

    It’s honestly getting to the point where one of the major considerations in planning a wind farm is to make sure each landowner in the area has at least one turbine on their property – that way no-one will oppose it. Somehow all these health and environmental problems just… melt away.

  2. Environmentalism is not conservationism. Environmentalism is a political movement whose followers want to change the world into some form of mythical Utopia. People like Rachel Carson pay little attention to real science but use any “science” to support their position. The end justifies the means is acceptable if you are saving the planet. Conservationism has a much longer history and is about preserving what we have.

  3. …However I always thought true environmentalists didn’t care about what was inconvenient for politicians, and inconvenient for fat cats, and instead cared about what was inconvenient for whooping cranes….

    Many humans are activists of one kind or another. Some campaign to rescue starving children in Africa, some to conserve wildlife, some to prevent the demolition of historical buildings…..

    One thing common to all of this activity is that the activism often does not go away when the initial object is achieved. Having started up a movement – particularly if it has become big enough to employ people, the movement is self-perpetuating, and goes out looking for more starving children to rescue, more buildings to save, etc. About 30 years ago, the big charities started employing professional fund-gatherers – at that point their movements became divorced from reality. It became essential that starving children existed – indeed, that their numbers were growing. Old warehouses and shacks suddenly became historic, and, as you have seen, Snail Darters suddenly became rare….

    Your problem is not that ‘environmentalists have sold out to Big Business’. Your problem is that environmentalists have BECOME big business in their own right. As have many charities before them.

    In the same way as scientific hypotheses should be capable of being falsified, a truly caring activist should be capable of deciding that they have succeeded and need do no more. If they become convinced that they will ALWAYS need to be engaged, then do not be surprised if they make up false exaggerated reasons to protest, and ignore any inconvenient facts, such as bird deaths, or mathematical mistakes in climate graphs which other people question them about..

  4. Tom, please post a picture of your house sitting near the windmill farm. That way we can believe you have first hand experience. Otherwise, you sound like you are writing from talking points provided by the wind farm industry.

    Otherwise, just Goggle “wind farm lawsuits” Here is one site: http://saveourstateri.org/wind_power_problems.htm

    I do remember reading about a school that installed a wind turbine and quickly shut it down to spare the children the trauma of seeing all the dead birds. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/7870929/Primary-school-forced-to-turn-off-wind-turbine-after-bird-deaths.html

    Plus the wind industry appears to be hiding total bird deaths by restricting the area they look for dead birds and the frequency with which the check. Not the actions of a good environmental partner.

    Given all the costs, known problems and environmental issues, wind farms are a boondoggle of massive proportion and will go the way of the steam automotive engine.

  5. Good work Caleb, and nicely presented too. The abuse of environmental issues for political gain is a disgrace and it ultimately degrades all environmental activism and concern.

    It certainly seems to me that many of these renewable energy schemes would not get through impact assessment if they were treated like all other developments that were not the flavour of the day amongst the anti energy wierdos.

  6. I had a similar experience here in the UK, trying to get the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) to tell me what figures they have for wind farm mortality of birds and bats. There was lots of mealy-mouthed waffling about wind farms being perfectly acceptable provided that they complied with certain guidelines but no figures were forthcoming. Then I read that the RSPB has plans for a turbine at its own headquarters and has had some form of “commercial arrangement” with one of the power companies.
    Digging around on the web did throw up a few studies which indicated significant kill rates.
    I am now an ex-member.
    On the point about environmentalists “selling out”, did’nt one of the big US groups take many millions from a gas company to support a campaign against coal?

  7. Last fall they cut down an Eagle’s nest, just a few miles to the west of us, to make room for a wind turbine. An officer of the MNR (This is southern Ontario, Niagara region) was there, but had his back turned to the operation.

    Many environmentalists DO NOT CARE what happens to birds, bats, or even humans- those wind turbines are SAVING THE WORLD!

    It has been noted by one letter writer in a local newspaper- The Sachem- than all of the massive wind turbines going up / possibly going up, are located in conservative ridings. NOT ONE is located in liberal ridings.

    My wife and I are currently part of one of the 14 lawsuits against wind turbines. They are planning to put up 600-foot-tall turbines within two miles of us. Over 70 across the region.

  8. The snail darter lives in the Tennessee River. The delta smelt is the California fish.

  9. The snail darter lives in the Tennessee River. The delta smelt is the California fish.
    He who smelt it delta it?

  10. RE: Tom says:
    May 13, 2013 at 1:47 am

    1.) If I was sure wind turbines only killed 0.6 birds a year, I wouldn’t have written what I wrote.

    2.) I looked into wind turbines for my farm, and decided against it. I wouldn’t do it, even for $20,000/ year, and even if they didn’t harm birds.

    3.) The delta smelt issue cost a great many farmers a lot of money. Why should “farmers” (your words) get a free pass with wind turbines?

    I have to go to work, but will respond to other comments later.

  11. I only have a small woodlot, but I have noted decline in the number of nests each year since 2000. I have suspected the cause to be wind turbines. They have increased in number to the south and west. I wish there was more research on this serious issue.

  12. I think the people who truly concern themselves with the preservation of nature are conservationist, the people who use the environment as an excuse to impose ridiculous policies are environmentalist. There has to be a way to separate the wheat from the chafe.

  13. I put it to you that this article may well end the use of wind turbines worldwide (thats if it gets to mainstream SMS). Most environmentalists will be totally ashamed and shocked and will request an immediate stop to their use.

  14. Actually, years ago I used to post comments using the nom de internet: taxistan. In those days I use to post about the birds on my bird feeder and how they viewed the warmists. Those days are gone. Now they are killing whooping cranes and (read the California news) condors. These people do not care about Nature, they only care about wind farms. What sick people are like this. Like most sick people they count on the sane amongst us not realizing how sick they are. Sick as in mentally insane!

  15. I read the claim about the whooping cranes last night from a link in the open thread.

    I think it’s possible they really are being killed that rapidly. However, my experience with certain “groups” is that you can rarely trust their claims.

    I would ask “where are the bodies”, but I do know that people pick up bird carcasses from below wind farms and get rid of them. Not a conspiracy theory, just the reality of it.

    I’m currently on a rant against these things. Of all the horrors ever visited upon the bird population, these things ARE THE WORST. Birds have survived plagues, starvation, being hunted, having their habitat replaced with subdivisions. but the ultimate insult is throwing giant clubs in their migration routes to knock them out of the sky.

    It’s horrible and I’m ashamed that the wind turbine blight has gotten this far. Did nobody learn ANYTHING from the 70s?

  16. NOTE: The winter 2011-12 count presented many challenges to getting an accurate total. Warm weather and extreme drought conditions on the Texas wintering grounds in winter 2011-02 are believed to have caused much wider dispersal of cranes, making a direct count difficult. Whoopers that normally remain on or near Aransas NWR were detected in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and eight counties in Texas. Officials had hoped for 300 Whooping cranes to migrate south after the 2011 breeding season in Canada.

    The winter 2012-13 count was not finalized until March 2013, and it was based on a new method. Bologists at Aransas NWR have switched from direct count to estimates.

    They live in Canada in the summer and Texas in the winter, unless there is this humongous drought in Texas and they winter wherever looks good to them instead. Drought caused this change, most likely….

  17. Extinctions due to global warming:

    Whooping Crane
    California Condor
    SW Asia Tiger
    Orangutan

    The first two due to windmills.
    The second two due to clearing the rain forest to grow biofuel (palm oil).

    Meanwhile the polar bears are just fine.

  18. “The whooping crane population was down to around 21 in 1941.”

    Sounds like a species that is dead.

  19. On the Indonesian islands where orangutans live, the native people call them the “Jungle Man.” Horrific and disgusting that they are dying off. Biofuels, the stupid, it burns…

  20. “I always thought that was the one thing that environmentalists never, ever would do.”

    HA! HA! HA! Best joke I’ve heard in a while, that’s a good one! Thanks!!!

  21. When the environmentalist industry teams up with big industry and big politics, the combined entity needs a common enemy to attack: normal people. Even conservationists are being dragged into this pit, as the new breed of conservationists want to forbid people from entering their protected regions for any reason. A sad state of affairs.

  22. As noted above, the delta smelt is the fish in the California deltas, and yes, it has survived lots of different climatic and seasonal weather conditions. The snail darter is a small fish that made it to the Supreme Court as an endangered species along a river in Tennessee. The Tellico Dam was authorized by Congress directly without regard to the little fish, which turned out to be not so endangered as originally thought and was found along many Tennessee rivers and streams.

    Many environmental groups have a habit of preferring survival of wildlife over survival of people, often without sufficient information to know if the wildlife survival is even threatened. But they also have a bad habit of preferring their pet projects over the survival of truly endangered species, with plenty of information to show that projects will endanger rare species. This incomprehensible double standard has turned them into self interested politicians and nothing more.

  23. All the research shows the average turbine kills somewhere between 0.6 and 1 bird per year – compare that to the *billions* of birds killed by windows each year!

    When’s the last time you had to deal with a bird that kill itself by flying wrecklessly into your house? Wouldn’t that be more akin to bird suicide? All the birds I know are amazingly aeronautic, competent and careful flyers. Gifted in this way.
    Anecdotal sure.

  24. @CodeTech ” but the ultimate insult is throwing giant clubs in their migration routes to knock them out of the sky.”

    I have heard passing birds are “sucked into” the turbines as they fly pass by. Is this true? I presume the bigger the wingspan the bigger the pull? Anyone got any views on this? Is there a radius around the turbines that becomes a killing zone and do the bigger gliding birds get pulled in more than small fast flapping birds. Not a scientist myself – has any researh been done?

  25. Tom, Regarding your $5,000 payment to the landowner, let’s cut all the subsidies to zero and reverse all the laws calling for a set amount of “green” power usage, and then see if the landowners will still take the resulting payments offered to them. My guess is that doing so would end the entire matter.

  26. Recent losses have been put down as most likely due to poor wetland management in the courts by the foremost crane experts in the country. I don’t understand how anyone can claim to be trying to “get to the bottom of this” and completely miss the available explanations.

    800+ ppm will pretty much guarantee their extinction, yes?

  27. “However I always thought true environmentalists didn’t care about what was inconvenient for politicians, and inconvenient for fat cats, and instead cared about what was inconvenient for whooping cranes.”

    Uh, well, you would be dead wrong. Enviros care only about imposing their socialist, neo-communist world view upon the great unwashed masses. Environmentalism , the successor to world-wide communism, took root upon the fall of the USSR.
    The hero of the left, the USSR, when extinguished, had to be replaced with another phoney cause that would bring down the root of all evil in the world; CAPITALISM.

    Ergo, let’s invent a new ideology – the RELIGION OF ENVIRONMENTALISM and a new deadly gas, CO2.

    The environmental movement could care less about the environment. If they could impose their world communist/socialist govt. upon us at the cost of the elimination of all wildlife and forests, they would agree to this trade-off faster than white on snow.

  28. To simplify things, there are two general classes of environmentalists:

    1. Those who care most for nature, birds, species extinctions, wild animals and places, habitat; and
    2. Those who care most about energy and environmental issues, air and water pollution of various sorts, especially CO2.

    Environmentalists of the second type have far more money for politics. The Sierra Club (second kind of environmental group) already was wealthy before Aubrey McClendon (then CEO of the natural gas exploration firm, Chesapeake Gas) gave them $25 million for the Sierra Club’s campaign against coal. (The Nature Conservancy — and example of the first kind of environmental group — often raises large amounts of money, but it isn’t given to politicians via PAC contribution, it is used primarily to purchase land.)

    Did the environmentalists “sell out” to fat cats, politicians, and the Administration? Or did the second kind of environmentalist, with far more money, win the battle over the first type of environmentalist, with lots of PAC money contributions and paid TV ads, and the like?

  29. To papiertigre:

    I have seen birds flying into my house on many occasions, both striking windows, and, when I had a white stucco home, into the walls themselves. It mostly happens in twilight, and yes, many of the birds die from the impact. One mourning dove recently flew into a window on my second story landing and left a sad outline of itself in bird dander, so it certainly happens.

  30. Mary Shelley warned mankind about ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ – something we create and then cannot control.

    But nobody reads books any more….

  31. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen components heading north on Vancouver Island for an ‘experimental’ wind generation project of three turbines. Usually around nine in the evening on Nanaimo Parkway heading north.

    Link to story here: http://www.timescolonist.com/timberwest-looks-to-build-wind-towers-to-explore-island-s-power-potential-1.110413

    Vancouver Island was almost the last refuge for Bald Eagles until they came off the endangered species list in 2007. Now I fear that situation may be reversed.

  32. The first and hardest lesson to learn – socialist/communists do not care for the environment. The second lesson is that the Green movement was long ago co-opted by the socialist/communists. Where wind farms and other green energy ventures are concerned, the important thing is government control not whether or not the birds live or die.

    As a conservationist, I share you concern, but what can you do? Almost all the groups who claim to care are really committed to fighting global warming and green energy like wind farms.

  33. Because the snail darter doesn’t live in California NOR in a fluctuating-water-level river delta, this entire article is suspect. If you want to deal in facts, author–GET FACTS to deal with!! I, too, would like to see some actual data on wildlife-kill by wind turbines, and the data are impossible to come by, but there is a reason for this. Virtually no one is taking data any more!! As a retired biologist, I find this both appalling and frightening. Taking real data on which to base conclusions is vital (but involves expertise and long-term commitment. Too boring, people??). Now we have incredibly flawed computer models based on not enough data to base them on, and are coming to badly flawed conclusions–scarier than you think. There’s no substitute for data, and no excuse for failing to gather easily obtainable real facts before writing an article like this.

  34. Good item. Thanks.

    Michael Moon makes a good point…we have to be very careful to assess real causes of population declines. (Some media reported that thousands of old Brits died this winter because of high fuel prices. Perhaps true in part, but mainly the result of poorly insulated dwellings.)

    Here in SW Alberta, we have several hundred turbines which is despise. (Just sent a 17-page letter about the damn things.) What I really want is a photo of a dead bald eagle in the area of turbines…one obviously killed by blades. Whoopers do not go though our area, so that option is not open for me.

    A photo of a dead crane would be worth millions to bring home one of the primary concerns with turbines. Imagine a good photo of a crane on the front page of newspapers (does anyone read newspapers anymore) or on the 6 o’clock news. Would do wonders to raise questions about turbines.

    One big issue is that all of our turbines are on private land and obviously landowners making tens of thousands annually (there are huge farms here with dozens of turbines) won’t invite you on to photograph dead birds.

    We need some good photos of dead eagles (or cranes) to spread though the media.

    Probably not about to happen.

  35. I’m all for Environmental Conservation. I am completely opposed to Environmentalism. The first involves logically working to maintain a healthy balance in the local environment. The second is a mindless emotional worship of nature that seeks to freeze it into a snapshot and prevent change.

    Thus Environmental Conservation is a dynamic healthy state for the world and Environmentalism is a static stagnant approach to the world where nothing is allowed to ever change.

  36. Dodgy Geezer says:
    May 13, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Mary Shelley warned mankind about ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ – something we create and then cannot control.

    But nobody reads books any more….

    I read Shelley’s book recently, finished it a couple months ago. It’s not about creating something then not being able to control it, it’s about creating something without regard to the outcome, and then hating the creation.

  37. Quick coffee break, and I can’t resist checking the comments.

    It is interesting to see the ideas about there being two types of environmentalist. In one sense I agree, seeing it as a political reality. However, if it is true that, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” the two “sides” should have some sort of common ground. Currently the schism is so severe it looks a bit like “Divided We Fall.” Therefore those who believe in the better sort of environmentalism had better be clear what they believe in, and firm about showing those who destroy the environment the door. Exactly what to name the “good guys” and the “bad guys” isn’t yet clear. Perhaps I only thought I was an “environmentalist.” and actually I am a “conservationist”

    I appreciate the various numbers people are giving, concerning Whooping Cranes. The 2011 numbers are reassuring, however I wondered about the 2013 news that they were “dispersed.” I’d never heard of cranes wintering in Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. Are we sure they aren’t just plain missing?

    Here is something snipped from a comment in the Wind Turbine Syndrome website (that I link to above.)

    “On January 4, 2013 The Whooping Crane Conversation Association posted this message on their site.
    Total Whooper Population Count Urged:
    Whooping Crane Conservation Association (WCCA) president Lorne Scott has urged Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Department of the Interior to resume regular aerial total population counts of whooping cranes on Aransas Refuge. The aerial census of the total whooping crane population has been used for the past 61 years. During 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to convert to a statistical survey method using hierarchical distance sampling. In a letter to Secretary Salazar, President Scott writes, “The WCCA sees the total count census as the most practical, economical and having the most scientific value”. Citing the Service’s “2011-2012 estimate of 254 plus or minus 62 Whooping Cranes”, Scott wrote, “This degree of uncertainty for a critically endangered species is simply unacceptable.
    “The WCCA sees the total count census as the most practical, economical and having the most scientific value. Three aerial counts between December 1 and 20 would provide a good count of the total number of birds arriving in the winter population. Flights every two weeks, after the December 20 count, until the cranes return north, would provide estimates of population losses during the winter. We note that as of December 27, 2012, the Aransas Refuge new website still does not report any crane numbers from approximately seven flights conducted this fall. We urge you to resume regular aerial total population counts as soon as possible”.

    Gotta go.

  38. There is a post on the open thread about FWS telling a wind farm company they will NOT be prosecuted for killing Condors – I will go and find it and re-post it here.

  39. Here we are:

    “papiertigre says:
    May 12, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    This came out on Friday but was overshadowed by other acts of public treachery.

    Companies won’t face charges in condor deaths from the Los Angeles Times.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants exceptions to a wind farm and a building project in harassing or killing the endangered birds.

    Federal wildlife officials took the unprecedented step Friday of telling private companies that they will not be prosecuted for inadvertently harassing or even killing endangered California condors.

    In a decision swiftly condemned by conservationists and wildlife advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said operators of Terra-Gen Power’s wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.”

    I think it illustrates Caleb’s point quite appropriately!

  40. One way of getting a feel for the danger to birds: typical average blade speed for a turbine is 50-60 mph (based on tip speed of 120mph). Flying through a wind farm would be like flying across an interstate highway at car level. And I see lots of dead birds by the highway.

    Not buying the “.6 birds per year.”

  41. Dodgy Geezer said(May 13, 2013 at 2:05 am) “… One thing common to all of this activity is that the activism often does not go away when the initial object is achieved.”
    &
    John said (May 13, 2013 at 6:57 am) “To simplify things, there are two general classes of environmentalists…”

    Both of these statements tie to a point made my sister (who holds an MS degree in something to do with ecology) when she talks about what she calls ‘Tax Exempt Parasites’ (TEP’s) and how they have taken over most environmental organizations, charities and NGO’s in general. While the TEPs run the organizations, they rely on activists (i.e., the ‘true believers’) to provide both the support and the grunt work.

    When the original cause has been solved, dis-proven or just looses popularity or support, the activists bounce over to the next great save-the-world campaign while the TEP’s either generate a new ’cause-of-the-day’ or they bounce as well. Far be it for them to hold an actual productive job in society. It has become way too easy to live off the charitable (or for that matter public) teat.

  42. Tom says:
    May 13, 2013 at 1:47 am
    “All the research shows the average turbine kills somewhere between 0.6 and 1 bird per year – compare that to the *billions* of birds killed by windows each year! There’s no evidence at all that turbines produce significant quantities of low-frequency noise at any distance or that it could have any sort of health impact if they did.”

    I applaud your desire to earn money with your wind turbines on your own property. But I would encourage fair conditions:
    -No subsidies. The wind project developers can earn their money on the electricity spot market.
    -Liability. If your neighbours can show that infrasound from your turbines harms them they must be able to sue you. It should be possible for you to find an insurance that makes you an offer. You can pay for the liability insurance with the proceeds from the wind turbine output.
    -Liability. If your wind farm kills a Golden Eagle the EPA should do with you what they do with an oil driller who kills one. I don’t know whether an insurance insures that kind of risk in the US. I think in Germany it is not possible to insure oneself against government action.

    And after that is clarified, go ahead, try to earn money; on a level playing field.

  43. “hen we raise the alarm, the public rolls their eyes and doesn’t listen.
    An example of such a false alarm may well be the “snail darter,” which is a small fish which lives in a California delta. ”
    ###

    Need to get your “endangered” species straight. The Snail Darter is in the Tennessee River. California has the Delta Smelt. The only relationssip between these two fishes, it that the watermellons applied the techniques pioneered with the Snail Darter, decades ago, to destroy the Tenessee economy, with the Delta Smelt to try to destroy the California economy. BTW, anyone who knows even a little about fish ecology should realize, with just a little research, that any claims of endangerment of the Delta Smelt are compleatly unfounded. Its a forage species. It can double its polulation in about a year. It tolerates a huge range of water conditions, (but finds rice paddies a fine breeding ground). The main limiter of its population size is predations from such things as the introduced stripped bass.

  44. Looks like the bird watcher, preservation groups just found a use for civilian owned drones.
    As the wind industry policy appears to be shovel&shut up, an independent verification system is needed.
    Conservationists, conservatives same roots.
    The zealots of Environmentalism are either very gullible or deranged. But it should be noted that a pool of well off, extremely naive people will draw the exploiters, like meat draws fly.
    Show how much you care, give us your money, supplanted doing something about local problems and private responsibility.(Buy your indulgence here).

  45. Rabid enviros have gone too far for too long in our lives. I’m sick of the emotional blackmail, the green tape and the costs associated with the existence of these extreme groups.
    If a few species go extinct but help people open their eyes to what’s going on, so be it.

  46. In the UK planning permission (required for all building operations on land other than “minor operations” within the curtilage of an existing dwelling) should be refused if the works impact on the habitat of any endangered species.

    A list of UK endangered species is at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_species_of_the_British_Isles

    No reference to cranes or condors, seemingly – don’t think it’s warm enough up here at 51N upwards – but for any other UK species the solution would be to apply for them to go on the list…

  47. This is why many people have left Green organizations. The ranks have become filled with people who have a different agenda. Most members just jump on board with what they are told without ever looking into it themselves. I’m sorry it took you this long to start thinking for yourself. However, now you can help the rest of us who care about the enviroment, but don’t want to be misguided by the corruption in the Green movement.

  48. There are about 600 whooping cranes left in the world with the only sustaining group being the approximately 300 that split their time between Aransas reserve, near Rockport Texas and Canada. The numbers slowly build up with historic unnatural deaths being primarily lack of food, primarily blue crabs (due to drought), flying into electric high lines & fences and humans shooting them. There have been 81 unaccounted deaths since 1951. I go by Aransas once each year on the way to Rockport, which is a resort town.

    With the advent of windmill generators, the possibility exists that there could be a few whoopers killed but it would be well known since a dead whooper makes the headlines of small town newspapers. They are big and easy to identify.

  49. “As usual, they assume nature so poorly equipped her creations that they can’t adapt. That’s some ballsy certainty.”

    Careful Mr. Watts. This is exactly the kind of statement I’d have sneered at a few years ago when I was a true AGW believer. I continue to sneer at the idea that we can rely on good ‘ol mother nature, or God, or anything else you might have in mind to protect us. The earth’s natural history is littered with catastrophe’s and extinction events. They’ll most certainly happen again for whatever reasons.

    Nature does not care.

  50. @pokerguy: wrong thread, surely? Try under “Wild claim from University of East Anglia”.
    And we wouldn’t have been around all this while if mother nature didn’t have something going for us – eg the essentially logarithmic nature of Co2 to averaged surface temperature increases (the lawyers even have a name for it: “the presumption of continuance” that a recurring human phenomenon will continue its normal course until the contrary is shown).

  51. “…261 would not be good news.”

    Where did the 261 come from? Is this from another source? Or is it a P.O.O.M.A.?

  52. When I lived in Texas in the 1970’s, the plight of the whooping crane was a very big deal. In the comments of this article I read that there are now only about 300 of these birds using the Aransas NWR.

    Since the 70’s, we have spent literally millions of dollars to give them protected homes, and thousands of hours either trying to get these reticent beings to mate or in trying to count them. How many dollars per bird have have we spent? How many decades do we have to nurse these critters to get them to multiply? With all the work for this bird over the last half-century, I don’t think it is the fault of humans that these birds cannot seem to multiply.

    Nature may have already dealt a verdict on the longevity of this beautiful bird.

    RIP.

  53. Cranes and herons were hunted almost to extinction due to the popularity of their plumage. Species have been recovering since hunting them was banned. Loss of wetland habitat is also a factor.
    Along with wind turbines killing cranes, etc., bats and raptors are casualties and the numbers are significant.
    On the one hand the Fed’s and States and some private groups work to help these animals and on the other hand they issue take permits for the legal killing inflicted by their beloved wind project boondoggles and some so-called environmental groups turn a blind eye to the carnage.

  54. To Ryan:

    You wrote: “800+ ppm will pretty much guarantee their extinction, yes?”

    In the first place, what makes you think birds can’t stand 800 ppm CO2?
    Their distant ancestors, dinosaurs, stood 2000 ppm quite well. The
    CO2 levels of the Eocene (50 million years ago) were 1500-1000
    ppm, and the ancestors of today’s birds OBVIOUSLY survived. I don’t
    know when whooping cranes evolved, but there’s no a priori
    reason to think that a small increase in CO2 partial pressure will
    kill them off. A recent spate of papers questioning the sensitivity of the
    global temperature to CO2 also casts doubt on the extreme temperature
    rise scenarios that are the stock-in-trade of climate alarmists.

    In the second place, it’s doubtful that burning fossil fuels will raise the
    CO2 level that high. The oceans absorb quite a bit, and working
    oceanographers believe the oceans are very far from being saturated
    in their ability to absorb CO2.

  55. I have visions of EPA envirocrats required to resume those aerial bird counts from ultralights flown through the wind farms . . . shouldn’t be a problem if they aren’t dangerous to winged critters . . .

  56. The crane family has been around since at least the Eocene, but probably earlier. The Gruidae are quite an ancient lineage.

  57. pokerguy says (May 13, 2013 at 9:47 am): “Nature does not care.”

    But Gaia most certainly DOES! That’s why she spent so much time and effort giving birth to the human species, so we can protect her from some of those nasty catastrophes (e.g. asteroids) that muck up all her plans!

    Unfortunately, she did her job a little TOO well: We, her creations, are so keen on protecting her that we worry about threats that don’t even exist, distracting us from the real problems.

    *sigh* Pesky humans. She was sooooo close to evolving a technological dinosaur civilization…

  58. The fools who preach a fossil free world is the way to better world don’t care Wind Turbines kill millions of birds including Whopping Cranes. They are on a mission from God to save the world. They don’t care the alternatives to Fossil Fuel are worse by any measure. They require tons of rare earth that creates toxic waste in the surrounding areas which is harmful to the environment and human health. They pollute the environment with toxic waste during their manufacture. They are inefficient and costly providing only a fraction of the energy fossil fuel does. Wind Turbines kill millions of birds, require large land masses to operate scaring once natural habitats and are harmful to human health. Ditto with solar panels if deployed in mass may even cause more global warming not less. Plants used for biofuel like corn and palm trees grow on fertile land once used for food crops and in the case of palm trees virgin forests are chopped down and poor Africans are forcibly removed from their land so rich neocoloniest green corporations can profit. Thanks for alerting people to the inconvenient truth that the so called cure for AGW is worse than the imagined disease.

  59. Green kills – whooping cranes, condors, eagles – and people.

    Green is mass murder abd animal cruelty, and the greenies are the mass murderers and animal abusers of our time.

    If it were within my power to do it, I would personally physically force every environmental extremist organization on the planet to bear the cost of tearing down these killer machines and paying the home heating and electric bills of people who can’t afford them because of carbon taxes, renewable energy mandates and restrictions on fossil fuel supply and use; and I would personally physically force them to pay for developing fossil fuel resources and building energy infrastructure in all countries where people now have to burn shit to cook their food.

    Of course it is not within my power to do these things, but I’d sure like to see someone do them.

  60. “The problem is that environmentalists have overused the sympathy of the public, because some less-than-altruistic environmentalists have raised the alarm, but have done so for reasons that involve political and even business interests. By allowing such people to infiltrate our ranks we have dug a grave for ourselves, because we are now like the little boy who cried wolf.”

    In the 80’s I was a signed up Greenpeace supporter (ie I paid them a annual subscription). I come from the generation that argued for paper and glass recycling before it was fashionable.The era when the National Union of Seamen stopped the british government dumping nuclear waste into the Irish Sea.

    However, so many who call them selves environmentalists these days have got so wound up about the CO2 they just can not accept that it was wrong, at best exaggerated. They are now the ones ‘in denial’.

    The biggest danger is that in five or ten years time no one will take the slightest bit on notice whatever they say. Even when they try to highlight real and dangerous industrial pollution, they will not have an ounce of credibility left.

    They need to waken up quickly but all the evidence is they are intent of driving straight into a brick wall on this one.

  61. peopleneedpower says: “They require tons of rare earth that creates toxic waste in the surrounding areas which is harmful to the environment and human health. They pollute the environment with toxic waste during their manufacture. ”

    NO. Wind turbines do none of that, industrialists do. It does not matter that they are making turbines, cars or plastic dolls, they pollute because it’s cheap and they pollute in countries that don’t have laws that prevent it.

    It’s the same as it always was, where ever it was happening. It’s GREED that pollutes, not wind nor nukes nor coal. It’s greed.

    Nothing new under the sun.

  62. Green is mass murder abd animal cruelty, and the greenies are the mass murderers and animal abusers of our time.
    ————
    Your blaming the children when its their socialist parents that raised these psychopaths..

  63. We have a heavy frost warning here in New Hampshire tonight, so I have to run around covering seedlings with hay. I’d much rather read all the the comments, but that will have to wait until after dark.

    To briefly return to the subject of disappearing whooping cranes:

    Wikipedia, (for what it’s worth,) states, “As of 2011, there are an estimated 437 birds in the wild and more than 165 in captivity.[2][3]” and “The United States Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that 266 Whooping Cranes made the migration to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in 2007.[15]”

    The above article I linked to states, “This year, after they migrated to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, only 192 were counted. More than 100 of these birds disappeared in a year’s time.”

    Did a hundred cranes disappear? Or is that statement balderdash?

  64. We are like a beautiful garden, but our ranks contain some rank weeds.

    Nice turn of phrases, but recommended editing to read:
    “We were like a beautiful garden, but our ranks are now overgrown by rank weeds.”

  65. Environmentalism is off the rails.. Far to many nut jobs and power / money hungry psychopaths in their ranks for anything good to come from anything they touch.. I thought there was supposed to be a separation of church and state in a free society..

    Again and again, socialism all jazzed up with mystic garbage creates nothing but suffering and war.. Always in the name of some abstract ideal.. Always to save some thing that never belonged to them anyways.. Angry people feeding on their hate of their chosen scapegoat..

    Politics 101.. Fill them up.. Wind them up.. Jump out front and enjoy the ride..

  66. A sobering thought. The book “Mysteries of migration” cites a kill of thousands of birds when they collided with a static TV trasmitter in their migration route. The risks posed by thousands of moving blades are obvious.

  67. I wonder how many of those who are adamant about needing wind turbines to combat the coming catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, will be willing to accept the connection between the threatened whooping crane population and the increasing prevalence of human whooping cough.

  68. I do not live too far from the site of the International Crane Foundation. Using ultralight aircraft they train and release about 6 Whooping Cranes every year into the wild. They cranes need to be trained to migrate to they’re winter nesting sites. What a tragedy it would be if all their (mostly volunteer) efforts were for naught.

    If you find yourself in central Wisc. it’s well worth a visit: http://www.savingcranes.org/

  69. Many environmentalists DO NOT CARE what happens to birds, bats, or even humans- those wind turbines are SAVING THE WORLD!

    Just remember, sometimes you have to destroy a world in order to save it….

  70. There are many, many kinds of “environmentalists.” Most of us have a rather strong feeling that we need to preserve nature, species and healthy air, water and food. But when I tell people that I hate environmentalists because they’re so hard on the environment, most people know what I am talking about.

    One element of this is scientific uncertainty, such as the uncertainty of this particular article. Thus there are those who fight against nuclear power, and those who consider it a solution, those who hate coal, while I consider coal an environmental hero, and so on.

    But there is also corruption. America’s National Science Foundation declaring “the science is settled” in favor of global warming screaming, thus skewing all research for the past decade–that is one of the most profoundly antiscientific things I have ever come across. SCIENCE is not settled–RELIGION is settled. Or butter lovers who know which side their bread is buttered on.

  71. OK. 9:30 and I can finally unwind and see what sort of uproar I have caused. I can’t stay up too late, however, because I’ve got to be up early to fight frost on the morning of May 14. (Global Warming….HA!)

    First, a few have commented they don’t give a flying whoop if the cranes live or die. That is perfectly fine with me. I’m not one of the bird-lovers who wants to tax others to save my personal preferences. The fact of the matter is that it was relatively few people who brought the whooping crane back from a low point of between 21-24 birds. (Accounts vary.)

    These people made a huge effort, and spent a great deal of time they were not paid for. It was a thing called “volunteering,” and “a labor of love.” Some modern types might not understand such effort, because they see life in terms of looting, and know the guy who runs the United Way charity makes (or made) a quarter million a year, (which doesn’t seem all that charitable. In fact it seems like getting fat off the poor.) However that is not the way true charity works. You’re not suppose to say, “What’s in it for me?” You’re not suppose to go to college and get a PHD in generosity, and become filthy rich being generous.

    Think of someone like Mother Theresa, spending half her time in the reek of the filthy slums of Calcutta, and half her time groveling for money so she could help the poor. She saw plenty of hell, and witnessed every reason there is to curse the wealthy, but she was too busy with her labor of love to waste time hating.

    Some will say she cared about actual people, and not dumb birds. I have no idea if she was a bird-lover or not, so I’ll switch over to Saint Francis, who apparently did care for birds. However he was not one of these bird-lovers who detested humanity. His labor of love involved caring for both birds and humans.

    This is just my long-winded way of saying some have it in their hearts to embark upon a labor of love. They don’t do it to gain notoriety, or to annoy others, or to become filthy rich. They do it simply because they care.

    It was this sort of person who saved the whooping crane. They spent time in mosquito-filled, stinking swamps, and in the boring waiting rooms of congressmen, and groveling and wheedling in the offices of fat-cats, all because a majestic and beautiful bird was about to vanish from the face of the earth.

    The whooping crane was once widespread on the gulf coast and up the Mississippi valley. True, it was never common, but the passenger pigeon was once so common it darkened the skies, yet was erased from earth. The whooping crane was a few score birds away from a similar fate, when a few bird lovers got to work.

    Some of you don’t give a hoot about owls, or a whoop about cranes. Your labor of love lies elsewhere, and I wish you well with your endeavors. However those of us who do like the sight of a whooping crane or eagle in the sky are rather glad the old bird-lovers worked as hard as they did.

    The thing of it is: They were not annoying and abrasive, which some young and modern environmentalists unfortunately tend to be. Doing what they did tended to make them poorer, not richer. (In terms their banker could understand, at least.) Lastly, they spent far more time working damn hard than they spent whining and griping.

    Most importantly, those old-timers saved the whooping crane. How can modern environmentalists look themselves in the eye in a mirror, knowing their efforts may wipe the whooping cranes out?

    Perhaps it will take the actual extinction of a species to snap people out of the trance they seem to be in. However maybe posts like this will wake people up more swiftly.

    It is now 10:30 and I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to reply to some of the other comments my post, (which is actually more of a question,) has generated.

    My question has not been answered to my satisfaction, so far. In fact all some of the “answers” do is generate a whole slew of follow-up questions. But that will have to wait until tomorrow.

  72. Caleb-
    Thanks for writing a fine article and followup. Shining a spotlight on the walking contradictions (enviro-thugs) is a good way enlighten some to the plight of cranes and other important species and the two-faced nature of many so-called environmentalists. It’s also alarming that these groups have no problem sheering off the tops of some of the most magnificent mountain ranges and bastardising scenic areas, nearly demolishing the ecosystems of those areas in the process, to make room for wind power atrocities which in a short time will be just rusting, rotting and non functioning hulks- left as eyesores completely abandoned by the oh-so-caring enviro-mentals. Looking forward to more of your insights.

  73. …we had better disagree with these people, who are actually fakes and phonies. In the most polite manner possible, we need to bring up the truth and demand the facts, and confront them. They are corrupting a beautiful thing…

    Good luck with that. We have already found out what happens if you confront them.

    As an example I offer Steve McIntyre. He is an activist, similar to you, but the subject that he is most anxious to defend is Truth – truth in mathematics and statistics. I suggest that this is an even more important subject than the conservation of a major species, since it has so many ramifications in every part of our lives. For trying to defend mathematical truth he has been harassed, smeared, and banned from publishing or attending conferences. His name is not allowed to be spoken by the UEA climate change team. People who associate with him have a distressing tendency to lose their jobs.

    By all means try to ‘bring up the truth and demand the facts’. Just be aware what is likely to happen to you if you do…

  74. @Jeff Alberts

    I read Shelley’s book recently, finished it a couple months ago. It’s not about creating something then not being able to control it, it’s about creating something without regard to the outcome, and then hating the creation.

    Perhaps a closer precis would be creating something believing that it will be beautiful and useful, then finding that it is not, and that, having created it, your future and its are inextricably entwined, that you cannot destroy it, and that inexorably it will drag you down to perdition with it….

  75. Endangered species? An emotional and scientifically illiterate concept. What part of ‘evolution’ don’t they understand? Species come, are around for a while and then they go. Some longer than others. Not sure humans have enough diversity in the gene pool or the numbers to survive the kind of natural events we are sure to encounter in the future. Nature doesn’t seem to play favorites. Best look to our own preservation. Does six billion seem like a lot? Not really when the next glacial period arrives. You can’t live on ice and frozen tundra isn’t much better. Refugia pockets here and there will be in great demand by all species. Giant asteroid impact, we’re history. Meanwhile, I do like birds a lot. Tiny fish not so much.

  76. Amazingly the frost missed us last night, as an upper air disturbance snuck down from the north to shelter us with clouds and showers (and a bit of sleet.) However I’m still pretty busy. Frost forecast again, tonight. (Global Warming would be welcome.)

    Please note Anthony has a new post about golden eagles being killed in California.

    It is important to let the leaders of wildlife groups know the death of cranes and eagles is not unnoticed. I think the membership of such groups is waking up, and the leaders can be removed.

    Thanks to all for their comments.

  77. RE: Trudy Cashel says:
    May 14, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Nice map. Is it up to date?

    I’ve heard some state that the whooping crane migrate an an altitude of 800 feet, and the wind turbines only reach up 300-400 feet. Of course that likely doesn’t take into account the slanting climb to that “cruising altitude,” nor the decent in the evening to roost for the night. I don’t know for sure, but I’m fairly certain whooping cranes don’t rocket straight up to 800 feet. Also turbines tend to be located on ridge lines, and I doubt whooping cranes climb to pass over the tops of hills at 800 feet. (I know other migrating birds don’t; a ridge line or peak can be a good place to relax on a warm spring day, if you like to watch passing hawks as they head north.)

    We could spend a lot of time calculating altitudes and placement of wind turbines, however this seems unnecessary, if the birds have modern tracking devices. I’ve heard many cranes do wear such devises, and when one goes missing the location is not a mystery. However it is rumored this information is withheld, as certain people do not want other people to know exactly where the cranes have stopped, when they “vanish.”

    A good reporter would know exactly who to go to and what questions to ask, in order to get to the bottom of such rumors.

    My suggestion is:
    A.) Ask experts if cranes wear tracking devices.
    B.) If cranes do, who has the information?
    C.) Go ask for the information.
    D.) discover where the missing birds have gone.

  78. I repeat my question posted at ‘Washington Passes Wind’.

    In the interests of advancing research into a resolution of the ‘bird kill’
    problem, does anyone out there know if birds fly downwind into the face
    of the turbine or into the wind ie backside of the turbine? Or both – if so
    in what proportions? Thankyou.

  79. Third choice Paul; merely circling on hill-top thermals around the turbines when knocked on the head. This video should be compulsory viewing for members of the RSPB.

  80. @Paul Watkinson: is that a meaningful question? To a bird in flight the air itself is stationary – it is the bird’s speed relative to ground that is slower or faster depending on net speed of bird and wind (so the bird is stationary relative to ground if the wind speed is 35mph towards west with the bird flying flat out at 35mph – relative to the air in which it is immersed – towards east).

    Wind turbine head assemblies turn to face into wind if the wind speed is more than minimal – so if wind speed is say 15mph in any direction, a bird upwind of the blades would need to be flying at least 15mph away from the blades to avoid potentially getting sucked in at the front. A bird flying downwind of the blades will be safer – for example, if flying at 16 mph towards the back of the blades it’s approach speed (toward the ar$e-end of the turbine head assembly) would be just 1 mph – giving plenty of time for avoiding action, or perhaps to touch down smoothly on the head assembly and get pecking …

    So I would believe the answer is: if the windspeed is nil, birds are just as likely to commit hara-kiri on the turbine blades from any direction; the faster the wind blows the more likely it is that birds will be drawn in frontally.

  81. Andres Valencia says:

    Each windmill not only kills birds but costs more than it produces. What is sustainable about them?

    I’ve long been convinced that political groups use a different definitions of “sustainable” and “renewable” from those you’d find in any dictionary :)

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