INFOGRAPHIC: In-Flight Safety Information
Ever since the first big wind farms were built, some 30 years ago, environmentalists have wrestled with a dilemma: how to develop this vital clean energy source without posing an unacceptable threat to wildlife.
No one knows exactly how many birds and bats are killed by wind turbines each year, but it may be more than a million. That may not sound like many -- domestic cats and pesticides between them kill tens of millions of birds annually. But giant new wind farms like the one in Roscoe, Texas, with 627 turbines arrayed over 84,400 acres, will greatly increase the risk.
So how can it be minimized? First, by thinking carefully about where a wind farm should be built in the first place: well away from areas where migratory birds congregate, wetlands that attract waterfowl, and forests and grasslands that provide habitat for sensitive species. Then the engineers can take over, adjusting lighting, blade speed, tower design, even paint color, to offer greater protection.
A lot more peer-reviewed science is needed to be sure that these innovations will work. But if they do, and if the industry follows new voluntary federal guidelines on wind farm siting, environmentalists may be able to reconcile their desire for clean energy with their concern for the vulnerable creatures of the air.
Click "More Photos" on the image above to learn about the potential solutions for getting clean energy without the carnage.