Hey, Americans, Save Your Birds!

Written by Vijay Jayaraj on March 28, 2019

Dear Americans,

I love nature. I’m writing this from the lush forests of India. But I want to call your attention to something going on in your own country—something that should shock and outrage you.

It’s the needless deaths of millions of birds every year.

I grew up among the beautiful peacocks and pretty little sparrows in the beautiful forest regions of southern India. Those and many other birds were not just pretty things I enjoyed watching. I was concerned by the many challenges human encroachments posed to them and other wildlife.

So, when I grew up, I became a wildlife ecologist. I spent entire years in the forests and wildlife habitats, studying their populations and helping experts reduce the human-wildlife conflict.

Besides my work with mammals like tigers in India and reptiles in UK, I also worked on the conservation of birds in Portugal. That was when I came across a deadly form of human infrastructure that silently kills millions of birds each year.

If Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring were written today, it would address this new killer that has successfully evades the scrutiny of environmentalists and nature lovers.

What is that killer?

Wind turbines.

You can be a renewable energy enthusiast or a lover of other energy forms. You can be a Republican or a Democrat. You can be rich or poor. You can be of any ethnicity. But none of those identities should stop you from calling out wind turbines for what they are: Bird Killers.

My fellow bird enthusiasts in Portugal were livid with the turbines. At first found it hard to understand why.

Then I began to research bird mortality caused by wind turbines and other energy infrastructures. My master’s thesis was on turbines’ impact on bird life in the Special Protected Wildlife Area of Portugal. I have personally radio-collared “protected species” of birds that have died when they collided with wind turbines.

Since then I’ve looked at wind turbines’ deadly effect on birds elsewhere—including in your beloved country.

In the U.S. alone, conservative estimates are that an average of 234,000 birds are killed annually by collisions with monopole wind turbines.

The fact that wind turbines kill birds is so well-established that a lot of research is being done on strategies to help the birds evade the turbines’ giant, rapidly turning blades.

Bird mortality by wind turbines is such a well-established fact in wind energy circles that in 2013 a wind energy company agreed to pay $1 million in fines after the Justice Department proved it guilty in a first criminal case against a wind power company for the deaths of protected birds.

The species with high risk from wind turbines are those that are long-lived, slow-reproducing, and wide-ranging or migratory. On top of this, the already endangered and vulnerable species are further impacted and pushed to the brink of extinction by wind factories. (Don’t let anybody tell you they’re wind farms. They’re factories.) Even offshore wind turbines kill birds at an alarming rate.

I hear a lot of excuses from people when I present these facts. They argue that wind farms contribute to the greater good by reducing carbon dioxide emissions—something they consider a more urgent environmental issue.

Their excuses and arguments fall flat. Some species, especially raptors like the bald eagle, have been pushed to the brink of extinction exclusively by wind turbines. You might think you can save the planet from global warming after 100 years, but there will be no raptors in your sky.

The fact that birds are killed by other sources does not mean the wind turbines somehow earn the unalienable right to slaughter millions every year.

And it is not like our world will end if we let go of wind farms. Even an ardent promoter of renewable energy like Bill Gates openly stated that windmills cannot support the electricity demands of cities like Tokyo or New York, as they cannot produce on-demand electricity.

Moreover, wind turbines operate only during the days when there is sufficient wind, forcing us to meet our energy needs from other sources when there isn’t. Wind factories surround my hometown of Chennai, India, and our industries suffer severe losses due to the damage caused by the unstable, intermittent electricity they produce.

Why support an energy source that is unreliable, intermittent, and expensive—all while it kills millions of birds?

Anyone with a true heart for nature, anyone who would love to preserve nature, cannot support wind energy. It is unethical and immoral to support windmills just because they reduce a miniscule amount of carbon dioxide emissions and cannot guarantee any beneficial influence on Earth’s climate.

The claim that wind energy is clean and green is a myth to environmentalists like me who have witnessed its devastating effects firsthand.

If you do not raise your voice against the daylight murder of birds in your own backyards, it will be too late to save many species of birds. Before you save the planet, save your own birds.

Neither Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nor Al Gore would ever tell you about the blood on the blades of wind turbines. They will preach about polar bears (whose population has roughly doubled in recent decades) and penguins (which aren’t threatened), and gladly divert your attention from the slaughter of birds in your own backyard.

Say No to Wind. Say Yes to Birds. Just because you agree with most of a politician’s policies, you don’t have to agree with all of them.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.

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Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), a Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.