A feathered stakeholder showed up at an offshore wind turbines presentation that was organized to answer questions of how turbines may or may not be affecting bird populations.
Just as Hugh Haskell, a physics professor and science fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, began to address the avian issue, a bird swooped across the room and perched on a wall.
Its presence had not been planned, but the bird might have been interested to know the results of a study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Haskell cited the study that concluded, yes, wind turbines do kill birds–about 33,000 a year. But squeaky-clean windows account for between 97 million and 976 million bird deaths per year, according to the study. And cats? Also hundreds of millions of bird deaths.
Coal and gas extraction accounted for 30–40 million bird deaths per year, Haskill said. Oil and gas, “down around 1 million. And where is wind?” he asked, motioning to a bar graph that represented annual bird deaths. “It doesn’t show up on there.”
Once extrapolated into a future when there are more turbines, Haskell said, the number of bird-deaths-by-turbine will still be dwarfed by windows, cats and traditional methods of energy production.
Haskill and Keith Harrington, the Maryland field director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, spoke to about 60 people at the George Howard Building at a presentation sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Howard County.
The discussion comes as Gov. Martin O’Malley continues to seek support for the Maryland Offshore Wind Act, which would require utilities to enter into long-term purchase agreements with wind turbine facilities to be built off of the Maryland coast.