Is Wind Energy Harmful to Wildlife?

Its negative externalities are so much lower than the current energy sources that they are close to non-existent.

Are there any significant side effects to wind turbines, apart from the hazard they pose to birds? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Wind turbines don’t have any significant side effects on birds. In the USA each year there are about 20 billion birds after nesting. About one in ten are killed by human-related means. Those are mostly cats, lit windows, power lines and cars.

If you go way, way down the list you get to wind turbines. In 2014 they killed about 232,000 of those 20,000,000,000 birds. Thats one in 86,000.

There are some very minor and easily managed negative aspects of wind energy.

* Noise - They make a small amount of noise. It’s about equivalent to a normal living room at the base. Setbacks of about 400 meters usually suffice to meet World Health Organization recommendations for night time noise so that sleep isn’t disrupted.

* Bat deaths - Bats suffer barotrauma when they fly into the low pressure behind the blades and die. This doesn’t happen in great numbers. Mostly its non-endangered tree bats which this happens to. It’s significant because cave bats in the USA are suffering from White Nose Syndrome, a fungal infection which has been wiping out cave populations, killing hundreds of thousands at a time. When a population is that at risk, even a death or two can be an issue. Luckily, it appears as if a cure for White Nose has been identified and remediation of that issue is being done. While it’s possible to reduce bat mortality at wind farms by raising the cut in speed of the turbine slightly, it has not been found to be required as non-endangered bat deaths are like non-endangered bird deaths, a cost of industrial society.

* Change surface temperature slightly under wind farms - Studies have shown a degree F increase at night and a degree F decrease during the day. This is due to mixing of layers of air. It’s thought to be beneficial to crops and vegetation in net, as it reduces the risk of frost damage to crops and increases surface level humidity slightly.

Most of the complaints against wind farms are hyped by anti-wind advocates who fall into a few predictable categories.

Wind turbines are one of the two major wedges in the fight against global warming, climate change and air pollution. Along with solar energy, wind energy is going to be built in massive quantities globally. And that’s good because its negative externalities are so much lower than the current energy sources that they are close to non-existent.

Every MWH of wind energy displaces a MWH of fossil-fuel generated electricity. Every MWH of fossil fuel generated electricity comes with global warming, climate change, habitat loss and air pollution. Think about that.

This question originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora:

* Wind Turbines: How effective are wind turbines compared to other sources of energy?

* Sustainable Technology: Why do people say solar power is unlikely to be the energy of the future?

* Alternative Energy: What is energy?

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