Wind power is controversial but should keep on keeping on, says report
U.S. wind-power capacity has quadrupled in the past six years and could eventually produce up to 7 percent of the nation’s electricity. Easy-breezy? Not quite: Wind-industry growth lacks “any truly coordinated planning,” says a report from the National Academy of Sciences. Developers and officials should receive more guidance, particularly around siting, NAS says; in the helpful words of contributor Paul G. Risser, “The human impacts of wind farms can be both positive and negative.” Among the positives are global effects like cleaner air and less oil use, but those are balanced, according to NAS, by negative local effects like noise, disrupted views, and effects on bats and birds. The report cites inadequate research on feathered-friend fatalities, but grants that more birds are killed by foes like vehicles, buildings, power lines, and cats than turbines. To sum up: keep on with the wind power, as it helps mitigate The Most Important Problem of Our Time. Just don’t make decisions on the fly.