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The Hairy Woodpecker

Birding Business - September 2011

Sometimes We Forget
BY RAY DAVID | Editor/Publisher

WE IN THE COMMUNICATION BUSINESS know the rules about story-telling. But to know them is not necessarily to abide by them. Sometimes a journalist will intentionally omit one side of a story in order to create a false impression. To make black appear white, so to speak. Sometimes... we simply forget.

In the April issue, on page 5, we ran a short news item about wind power which was incomplete, and unintentionally misled many of our readers. It was incomplete in the sense that there is another angle from which to view the subject that I did not include.
Starting with the title, "Wind isn't Always Green", one immediately got the impression that wind power may not be a good thing. That, of course, is just not so, and for that I apologize. Wind power, cost aside, is still among the cleanest, most pollution-free sources of renewable energy currently available. Certainly there is a carbon footprint created in the construction and operation of a wind farm, but as soon as the blades start turning power is produced with almost no exhaust, smell, noise, smoke or other pollutants. The negative issue referred to in the article involved the unintended consequence of bird collision with the blades.
We all know a coal-fired power plant would produce electric power 24/7 at much less cost than wind, which can only deliver when the wind is blowing. But from that point on, wind wins. Coal leaves with us its ash and wind-blown pollutants; the wind farm doesn't even have to wash its hands. We have no data on how many bird deaths result from coal ash pollution, but more birds die from collision with downtown skyscrapers than with windmills.

The point of the news item was that blade collisions can be minimized, which coal pollution and tall buildings cannot, at least at a realistic cost. The power companies wish to avoid all cost, however, and our leaders in Washington, in their haste to make nice with them, have instituted only "voluntary" guidelines to safeguard the birds. The onus, then, is on industry to do the right thing, but they have been slow to get on board. Some, to their credit, have made and are making small changes, but they could do more, faster. "Just a few small changes need to be made to make wind bird-smart," said the American Bird Conservancy. So wind power is not as much the villain here, as is the power industry.

In this issue
Atlanta Follow-up
Bird Feeding
Give your Customers what they Truly Want
Industry news
New products
No Crisis in Avian Housing Market
Optics: A Pain in the Neck?
Using QR Codes to promote your business
The State of the App
Water You Doing?