Share this story!
- A new analysis shows wind turbines have negligible effects on bird populations in America.
- Oil and gas extraction was found to cause a significant decline in bird numbers, unlike wind power.
- Media coverage is more focused on wind turbines’ supposed harm to birds, overshadowing the larger impact of fossil fuel extraction.
Wind Power and Bird Safety: A Closer Look
Recent research, published in Environmental Science & Technology, provides a fresh perspective on the long-debated impact of wind turbines on bird populations, writes The Economist. Contrary to common fears among bird watchers and campaigners, the study suggests that wind turbines have little to no discernible effect on bird numbers in the United States.
Economist Dr. Erik Katovich from the University of Geneva analyzed American data, including the Christmas Bird Count by the National Audubon Society. He correlated bird population data with the locations and construction dates of wind turbines across the U.S. from 2000 to 2020. His findings show no significant impact on bird populations, even among larger species like hawks, vultures, and eagles, which are often considered more vulnerable to turbine strikes.
Comparing Wind Power and Fossil Fuels
Interestingly, the study also assessed the impact of oil and gas extraction on bird populations. The findings revealed a stark contrast: an average 15% drop in bird numbers near new gas wells, attributed to factors like noise, air pollution, and habitat disturbance. This decline was even more pronounced, at 25%, in areas deemed “important bird areas” by the National Audubon Society.
Media Perception vs. Reality
Despite the reassuring results regarding wind power, media coverage seems to paint a different picture. In 2020, major American news outlets published significantly more stories about the negative effects of wind turbines on birds compared to those of oil and gas wells. This disparity in reporting highlights a need for more balanced media coverage reflecting the actual data on environmental impacts.