Recently I stumbled upon a couple of articles (listed at the bottom of this page) about conflicts between the conservation of avian species and the need to meet increasing energy demands. This is a huge topic as global energy demands increase, particularly as we move towards certain forms of green energy.  Our energy needs pose risks to various species, which makes this a difficult issue to address.

Lesser Prairie Chickens are a great example of birds that are adversely effected by our pursuit of energy. These birds are found in the short grass prairies of western Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. They prefer wide open spaces without tall structures, particularly when they are lekking. However, the construction of power lines has severely reduced and fragmented suitable habitats for these birds. As a consequence their numbers have dropped. A second threat to these birds is wind energy. Wind energy requires the construction of turbines, tall structures. These turbines require windy areas to create energy. In the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas the best areas for wind are located in, you guessed it, the short grass prairies. The pursuit of green energy in these areas has led to further reductions of suitable habitats.

Wind energy does not just threaten sensitive species such as the prairie chickens though. Other species can fly into the vortex created by the spinning of the turbines and become trapped in the vacuum this vortex creates. While they are trapped they suffer from barotrauma, physical damage to body tissues due to pressure difference. Thousands of flying species, including bats, are killed every year due to barotrauma.

While we do need to find ways to keep up with growing energy demands, preferably through greener practices, large scale energy production poses certain threats to the environment as illustrated above. It may be that personal energy sources may be better alternatives for the future. These could include personal solar or wind energy systems mounted on private residences. As these would be much smaller than commercial production facilities and mounted on pre-existing structures this could significantly reduce the amount of conflicts with avian species.

Groups Oppose First-Ever Plan to Allow Killing of Eagles at Wind Facility.

Power plants, power lines and endangered bird species to be topics of talk |