A Long List Of Things That Kill More Birds Than Windmills Do
Trump, in his final debate with Biden on 22 October 2020, said…
“I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive, kills all the birds, it’s very intermittent. It’s got a lot of problems and they happen to make the windmills in both Germany and China.” — USA TODAY Transcript [1:24:00]
In fact, this is not the first time Trump has brought this up. It seems that every time he talks about windmills he feels the need to bring it up. And I, being able to see () windmills through my window as I write this, am shocked to hear this devastating fact.
“I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. They’re noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? Go under a windmill someday. You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.” — Older Trump Rally
After doing some research, it turns out that the ~66,000 windmills in the US kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds annually. Using its mean of 234,000 birds, that equals 3.54 birds per windmill yearly.
So, in my own crusade against bird genocide, I have decided to create a list of everything we need to destroy to save our beautiful birds.
Cell and Radio Towers
Of the ∼84,000 communication towers in the US and Canada, they kill ~6.8 million birds per year. That amounts to 81 birds per tower every year.
Of the ~1 billion pounds of US pesticides used, “the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that an estimated 67 million birds die from pesticide poisoning each year.” That amounts to 1 bird for every 15 pounds of pesticide yearly.
“A total of 182 bird species are believed to have become extinct since 1500. Avian extinctions are continuing, with 19 species lost in the last quarter of the twentieth century and four more known or suspected to have gone extinct since 2000. The rate of extinctions on continents appears to be increasing, principally as a result of extensive and expanding habitat destruction.”
The bird extinctions and deaths due to habitat loss are uncountable, reprehensible, and abhorrent.
The 2010s has ~1.7 large oil spills per year. This site claims that 500,000 birds die worldwide due to oil spills yearly. This leads to 294119 dead birds per large oil spill every year.
Of the 273.6 million registered cars, many of which are not in use or running, they kill a median of 214.5 million birds every year in the US. However, this is not the important fact.
Michigan’s eagle population, as of 2006, contains only 482 breeding pairs. In 31 years, 1,490 necropsies had been done on eagles. Vehicular trauma was found to be the leading cause of death of the small populations of eagles.
There are 160,000 miles of high voltage power lines in the united states. A median of 32.5 million birds are killed by collision, and a median of 7.45 million are killed by electrocution due to power lines. That is ~250 birds per power line every year.
In 15 years, a service had collected carcasses of raptors, some species of which were endangered. The most common species of raptor submitted to the research was Eagles. 417 deaths were due to electrocution.
Leftover lead from bullets and fishing gear have poisoned a large portion of the bird population and is a serious danger to endangered bird populations.
Hunters commonly leave piles of insides from their kills, and almost all of those piles contain bullet fragments. “A fragment of lead the size of a grain of rice is enough to kill an eagle.”
Although this list could go on further, the point isn’t to say that windmills are actually perfectly okay for the environment. The point isn’t that Trump is a manipulating idiot who purposefully lies to further his own goals because he knows no one can call him out on it. The point is that there are powerful people out there making sure that the wrong things are being blamed for serious problems.
Windmills are indeed impacting endangered birds. It is also true that 10 other things are impacting them more. And you might have skimmed right past them while reading this article. Or, you could have looked at the title of this article and realized that it, too, suffers from that misinformation.
The sudden hate for windmills is actually a symptom of efforts to distract. To distract from what, you might ask? From everything else. Climate. Oil Spills. Habitat Loss. Illegal Hunting. Overuse of Pesticides. By taking our attention elsewhere and changing the narrative, the people with power have free reign to pillage all they want from the environment.
This has happened to other things too. Changing the narrative is a common strategy to suppress the truth.
The most obvious and egregious examples that exist are articles like these.
“When a Michigan 94-year-old didn’t receive her absentee ballot, she took her civic duty to the next level.”
“It was raining like the devil in Broward and we still had our enthusiastic voters show up. Good for them.”
“Determined not to let the pandemic ruin her streak, she donned a pink plastic rain coat and a large medical hood and face shield designed by grandson so she could drop off her ballot at her local mailbox.”
The well-known, feel-good voting articles that, instead of showing how our democracy is failing us, show people braving the elements and circumstances to participate in voting.
Political distraction has us cheer for the voters instead of fixing the system.
It is just an example of changing the narrative from bad voter suppression to good citizens caring about voting.
In the same way that blaming windmills is changing the narrative from bad, pollution and climate change, to not-so-bad windmills.
“The narrative” has been changed again. Windmills aren’t perfect, but there are plenty of other atrocities we need to recognize first.
Birds are disappearing. Here's why you should care
Last year in Walla Walla, my environmental studies class visited Mill Creek on several different occasions. I remember…