How Much Is a Bird’s Life Worth?

Donna LaFramboise

ExxonMobil, long considered an uber villain by environmentalists, in 2009 agreed to pay $600,000 in fines. Its crime? Over a five-year period, 85 migratory birds (17 per year) died after landing in Exxon wastewater facilities across five US states.

CNN says the birds died after they ingested or became coated with hydrocarbons. These included a hawk, ducks, owls and other species. None are considered endangered but at least some are classified as “protected.”

Exxon’s fine works out to $7,059 per bird. In an effort to save the lives of less than two dozen such birds a year the company has apparently already spent $2.5 million covering and draining the bodies of wastewater and “will spend quite a bit more to implement the environmental compliance plan.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cruden says this case represents “a great win for the environment.” Members of the public who left comments on CNN’s website appear to agree. Observed one: “Seems like such a small amount of money for loss of animal life. Exxon always seems to get away with careless destruction of wildlife.”

A person named Clayton concurred that the fine was too small. Another implied that additional prosecutions were necessary “to stave off the decline in numbers of much of our wildlife.”

One wonders then, how Mr. Cruden and his employer, the US Department of Justice, feel about the worldwide push to increase the use of wind power? Because if 17 bird deaths annually are worthy of legal prosecution and multi-million-dollar remediation, it’s difficult to imagine how windmill companies are going to stave off bankruptcy.

Bats, after all, aren’t mere birds – they’re warm-blooded mammals. And it turns out that windmills alter air pressure in a way that causes the lungs of bats to explode. Researchers studying the issue apparently had little difficulty locating 188 dead bats from wind farms located solely in one part of one Canadian province.

According to a press release from the university with which the researchers are associated:

“The majority of bats killed at wind turbines are the migratory bats that roost in trees, including hoary bats, eastern red bats, and silver-haired bats. While little is known about their population sizes…their deaths could have far-reaching consequences. Bats typically live for many years, in some cases reaching ages of 30 or more. Most also have just one or two pups at a time, and not necessarily every year…All three species of migratory bats killed by wind turbines fly at night, eating thousands of insects—including many crop pests—per day as they go. Therefore, bat losses in one area could have very real effects on ecosystems miles away, along the bats’ migration routes.”

A summary of the bat research paper begins with the observation that the danger windmills pose to birds has been known for decades. A different study suggests that for every three bats that lose their lives due to wind turbines, an additional two birds are killed.

A 2004 California Energy Commission study estimated that as many as 4,720 birds from 40 different species – “including as many as 1,300 protected raptors” – are killed each year by a single wind farm. The Audubon Society says that more than 100 of those birds are golden eagles.

In fairness, this particular California wind farm is said to be unusually deadly, but 4,700 birds a year!

So tell me again why Exxon has been put through the wringer for causing the deaths of 17 birds at the exact same time that wind turbines are massacring them by the thousands?

Note: See recent stories which found millions of birds, many endangered are killed each year by wind farms in the US and globally. In addition, these wind turbins have proved to be a health hazard to humans – with residents homes as far s a half mile away reporting migraines, insomnia and other ailments from the constant hum of the turbines. Don’t expect any CNN story or comments challenging wind power anytime soon as the enviros look the other way.

Either every bird killed by the energy industry should result in a $7k fine – or none should.

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Fix the Budget by Cutting Climate Waste

Media Statement by Viv Forbes,
Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition.

Any quotes taken directly from this statement may be attributed to Mr Forbes

The Carbon Sense Coalition today called on the federal government to reduce the burden of the Climate Industry on all taxpayers and consumers.

The Chairman of Carbon Sense, Mr Viv Forbes, said that the biggest national scandal today was how the whole government apparatus, including the nationalised research and media industries and parts of the opposition, was totally captive to a religious belief that a destructive war on carbon energy will somehow provide benefits to some future generation of Australians by cooling the climate and preventing extreme weather events.

“This is a delusion.”

Quote:

It was the great Milton Friedman who said “There is only one tax on the people and that is government spending”.

Cutting expenditure, not re-arranging expenditure, must be the total focus of this budget.

And the first candidate for spending cuts must be the totally useless Climate Change Industry.

Every department, program, research grant, travel grant or salary with climate, warming, carbon, sustainability, renewable, sequestration, clean coal, ethanol or IPCC in its title or mission statement should be abolished forthwith together with its staffing. This list must include but not be restricted to:

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) and its dependants, saving about $3.2 billion.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, saving about $10 billion.

The Emerging Renewables Program, saving about $126 million.

The Clean Technology Innovation Program, saving about $200 million.

Subsidies to Coal-fired electricity generators, saving about $5.5 billion. (This has to be the ultimate madness – the government levies a crippling carbon tax on coal-fired electricity generation to force them to close and then pays huge subsidies to the same generators to delay their closure).

All Climate Change “Research” focussed on carbon dioxide, saving about $300 million.

“Contracts for Closure” – payments to ensure closure of some electricity generators (unbelievable – surely the carbon tax will do this).

The Coal Sector Jobs Package – payments to coal mines to offset the cost of the carbon tax- just abolish the tax.

Coal Sector Assistance Package – Subsidies to some Coal Mines (another stupidity – repaying some of the carbon tax they took in the first place).

Everything funded under the Clean Energy Future Plan.

All renewable energy subsidies.

The Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund.

The Ethanol Production Grants Program – a subsidy per litre of ethanol produced.

All climate change officials, lawyers, inspectors and auditors everywhere, maybe 13,000 of them saving, say, $2 billion per year.

The offices of the Climate Commissioner and the Clean Energy Regulator – whatever they cost is wasted money.

The whole Carbon Capture and Storage empire – The National Low Emissions Coal Initiative, the CCS Flagships Program, the National Carbon Dioxide Infrastructure Plan, and the Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

Support for all the International Climate Forums and Conferences via APEC, CEM, G20, IEA, IEF, IPEEC, IRENA, IPCC and all the travel costs associated with attendance.

All handouts under the Green Precincts Fund – $15M spent to date.

All government advertising, market research, media monitoring, media advisers and logo designers promoting the carbon tax, the Department of Climate Change, smart meters or other climate and green energy initiatives.

Donations to Green Friends such as the Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Council, Climate Works Australia, Green Cross Australia, and the ACTU – $3 million spent already.

To “balance” all of these reduced expenditures the government must also abolish the carbon tax and all fuel taxes not related directly to public road usage and applied to road construction and maintenance.

Note: The above list probably includes errors, double counting and omissions, but such is the confusion and proliferation of the alphabet soup of what poses as “Climate Policy” that it is doubtful if anyone could prepare an accurate and comprehensive list. The only feasible solution is to start cutting, biggest first. None of them will be missed, except with relief by taxpayers and consumers.

Viv Forbes,
Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition

Are wind turbines killing off the whooping crane population?

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Anthony Watts

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.