Wind Power

Wind turbines kill birds, but they don’t have to — here’s how to do better [VIDEO]

Here's a stomach-churning video of a wind turbine karate-chopping a vulture. Watching it will probably change the way you look at wind turbines. (Seriously, bird-lovers be warned: It is intense.) This video, originally captured by a tourist in Greece, vividly illustrates what happens 440,000 times a year, according to the American Bird Conservancy. If that sounds like a lot — it's nearly one bird every minute — just imagine what will happen as wind power ramps up to many times its current footprint. Fortunately, there are solutions. ABC says that bird strikes can be minimized if regulations force wind power …

Money is a miracle cure for ‘wind turbine syndrome’

There’s a down side to getting energy from wind: People who live near turbine farms report annoyance and even health effects from the noise. Amazingly, though, people with turbines on their land don’t have these symptoms, even though they live closer to the turbines than their suffering neighbors! What’s effecting this miraculous immunity? Turns out: Money. According to public health professor Simon Chapman, people who benefit financially from wind turbines somehow don’t report “wind turbine syndrome,” even though the turbines are right in their backyards. Incredible! What other ailments can this miracle medicine cure? I volunteer to be the test …

Climate & Energy

America’s energy use, in one nifty chart

Periodically, it’s nice to step back and get reacquainted with some energy basics. There’s no better way to do it than with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s famed (or oughtta be famed) energy flow charts. Here’s the most recent, from 2009 (click for larger version): Chart: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory I’m not going to ruin the pretty picture with a bunch of wonk talk. Just a few basic things that are worth noticing: 1. Holy sh*t we waste a lot of energy! I mean seriously. Look up there in the top right — “rejected energy.” Well over half of the raw …

New wind now costs the same as new coal — the tiebreaker is one of them kills you

The radical environmentalists at Bloomberg have declared that the world's best new wind projects now produce electricity that costs about the same as electricity produced from new coal-fired power plants. A lot goes into these calculations, but here's the bottom line: wind costs $65 a megawatt-hour, while power from new coal-fired power plants costs about $68 an hour. Coal would be much cheaper if there were no environmental controls on it. So if you like asthma, poor air quality, and premature death, be sure to vote for whichever politicians are all about rolling back environmental controls.

Wind Power

Alexis Madrigal chats about Danish wind power and how to fail well (also, sensors)

This is the fourth in a series from my conversation with Atlantic tech channel editor Alexis Madrigal about themes and stories from his new book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. DR: Something that comes up again and again in your book is this seemingly irreducible mystery of wind and how it moves. The wind industry starts with all these windmills on farms, then up to the big turbines, all in the absence of any sophisticated scientific knowledge about how wind works. AM: There’s this big debate in the history of technology around the role of …

the answer is blowing in the wind

Ask Umbra on flatulence and climate change

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, The other day I was sitting on the couch after a day of eating an onion-rich diet and wondered … how much impact can a person have on climate change by avoiding flatulence-producing foods? Resourcefully yours,Rob D. Troubled by your bubbles?A. Dearest Rob, I appreciate your desire to not turn the Earth into a Dutch oven, Rob. So let me cut to the cheese, if you will. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse of the National Institutes of Health, “most people produce about 1 to 4 pints a day and …

Wisconsin gov. Scott Walker ruins everything, including wind power

Can you get much more low-down than Scott Walker and his cronies? It's not enough that the Wisconsin governor stripped collective bargaining rights from unions in pretty much the slimiest way possible, or that important people who support him have been advocating both violence and fake violence as a way to silence opposition. No, he also had to go and kill wind power. Energy developer Invenergy has twigged to the fact that Walker is a scumbag in general and an anti-environment scumbag in particular, and has pulled out of its plan to build a new large-scale wind farm in Wisconsin. …

Das ist gut

Germany continues breaking clean energy records

A German wind farm.Photo: Dirk Ingo FrankeAs the nuclear reactor accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to dominate the world’s attention, Germany has quietly broken more renewable energy records. The conservative government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to stay ahead of public attitudes toward nuclear power in the run-up to regional elections, issued its annual report on the contribution of renewable energy to the German energy market in 2010. Wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, solar cells, and biogas digesters now provide nearly 17 percent of Germany’s electricity. Meanwhile, the German network agency Bundesnetzagentur issued its final update on the installation …

Cats and wind turbines vie for the title of ‘biggest avian menace’

Finally, we are starting to get answers to that universal question: Who would win in a fight, cats or wind? If the fight is "who can kill the most birds," the cats are way ahead, says a new study in the Journal of Ornithology. For sheer avian death tolls, wind turbines can't even hold a candle to the feline contingent — they kill 440,000 birds a year, to cats' 500 million. Even with expanded wind power over the next 20 years, turbines are only expected to kill a paltry million of our feathered friends. I've bumped off that many in …

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