Some people hate windmills. Just ask Don Quixote. Blogger jsanzone had this to say about wind turbines."Windmills require vast amounts of cleared land to twirl (on the good days, in the good seasons), and are responsible for countless bird and bat deaths, often affecting the larger and more endangered species. Windmills are horribly destructive to wildlife and wild places, already responsible (in their mission to achieve .25% of total electricity production in the United States) for permanently stripping mountainsides to create the open space, roads, and infrastructure required to maintain them and transport their energy. Solar farms have much the same record. It’s inconceivable that many of these environmental groups that are (rightfully) standing up against a lot of these permanently and continuously destructive projects are clamoring so for that day, a hundred years from now, when a few less puffs of steam might expire from the smokestacks of a coal plant, that they’re still willing to favor and push for the giant, sharp-edged noisemakers, open-air incinerators, and submarine meat grinders." You can read the rest of the rant here.
The problem with this view is that it offers no alternatives. If coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, solar, and wind energy are bad, what options are available? Bats die in larger numbers than birds at several wind turbine installations. According to Erin Baerwald of the University of Calgary in Canada, "an atmospheric-pressure drop at wind-turbine blades is an undetectable—and potentially unforeseeable—hazard for bats, thus partially explaining the large number of bat fatalities at these specific structures. Given that bats are more susceptible to barotrauma than birds, and that bat fatalities at wind turbines far outnumber bird fatalities at most sites, wildlife fatalities at wind turbines are now a bat issue, not a bird issue."
The majority of bats killed at wind turbines are migratory bats that roost in trees, including hoary bats, eastern red bats, and silver-haired bats. While little is known about their population sizes, the researchers said, those deaths could have far-reaching consequences. Baerwald said there is no obvious way to reduce the pressure drop at wind turbines without severely limiting their use. Because bats are more active when wind speeds are low, one strategy may be to increase the speed at which turbine blades begin to rotate during the bats' fall migration period.
If bat populations plummet, it could have an adverse effect on the tequila industry. Margaritas could go extinct or be put on the endangered drink list. Long-nosed bats (Genus Leptonycteris) are the main pollinators of Century Plants (Agave sp.), and tequila is obtained through distillation of juices from agaves. The relationship between bats and tequila may seem obscure at first, but the bat-plant association is so strong that the disappearance of one would threaten the survival of the other. Recent surveys have shown that populations of long-nosed bats could be declining, but the possible impact on plants or the tequila industry has not been determined. The tequila connection has three main actors: the bats, the plants, and man.
The inclusion of long-nosed bats on the endangered species list could help save the species and protect the nation's tequila supply. However, putting them on the list might prevent wind turbine projects going forward and could possibly jeopardize existing facilities. Do we want "green" energy or tequila? Whirly-birds or tequila sunrises? What options are available? Light it up!