Friday, 18 July 2014

Global warming - time to take the gloves off

There's something very funny about this picture. I'm not sure why, but when the left uses comedy to attack people on the right, it comes across as being very funny, with some underlying truth and justice. When people on the right use comedy to attack people on the left, it just doesn't seem to work.

This picture is funny, but not in the way it is meant to be. In fact, I think deep down it is not meant to be funny, and that may be the difference. The left is in a constant state of struggle against authority. Even when the left becomes powerful, it must struggle against itself and the inherent evil in the corruption of power, and the absolute corruption of absolute power. This is essentially comedy. The right, on the other hand, is dealing in tragedy. Their desire, their goal, and their destiny is to stay in charge. They are ultimately the victims of their own actions. And so are the rest of us. So if you're on the left, you can laugh. In fact, you have to.

Anyway, there is a serious point behind this joke with it's pyrrhic victory at getting a laugh. Not that Obama is setting out to kill the all-american bird. That idea is probably what makes this funny, in a kind of tragic way.

The serious point is that wind turbines do in fact kill birds.
In 2009, Electricity company PacifiCorp had to pay a $10.5 million dollar fine for killing 232 Eagles and other protected species.

Oh no, that was from electrocutions on power cables. Nothing to do with wind power--just supplying electricity from coal and maybe even nuclear power stations.

The avian fatalities from wind turbines are a little more modest, but even so they are significant.

You'd think that birds would have to be really stupid to fly into wind turbines. Those gracefully sweeping blades look easy to avoid. In reality though, the tips are moving at a very high speed, causing vortices that can disrupt birds' flight. I won't go into the Reynolds numbers here though.

Of course when it comes to Eagles, and especially the balding variety, we are talking about protected species, who probably are stupid. If they were so good at survival, they wouldn't be in the sorry state that humans are trying to help them.

Designers are now working to make turbines that will not affect birds, but this may be one more of those examples of taking the option with the least damage. We can continue with fossil fuels, and risk wholesale damage to the climate. Or increase carbon-neutral generation and kill a few pretty animals. There is no black and white in this, just shades of green and grey. Wind generation still looks pretty green if the choice is between killing a few pretty animals, or irrevocably changing the climate and killing many pretty animals.

I wonder how many birds are killed directly by pollution from thermal power plants? And what about all those canaries down mines?

And if you're worried about birds being killed in turbines, how many birds get killed by collision with aircraft?

Meanwhile, the state of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany has reached 100% renewable generation, mostly from wind.

The German eagles are evidently doing alright.

(Let me apologise, too late, if anyone found my earlier comments eaglist. In future I will try to be eaglitarian.)