American Elephants


Do Dead Birds Matter? by The Elephant's Child

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Let’s see. We are capturing the energy of the sun because it’s free, and replaces nasty coal-fired power plants that produce CO² because the CO² we exhale with every breath is poisoning the earth and causing global warming which causes the seas to rise, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, bad weather, carbon pollution and…Oh wait, it doesn’t? CO² is a natural fertilizer, causes plants to grow and resist drought. That part, at least, is true.

California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant has 350,000 mirrors which bounce sizzling sunlight to the tops of three 40-story boiler towers, heating steam for turbine electricity generators. Temperatures near the towers can reach up to 1.000 degrees Fahrenheit, heat certainly sufficient to fry a fowl.

Workers in those “green jobs” at the state-of-the-art solar plant call the birds that fly through the concentrated solar rays — “streamers.” Birds ignite in midair with a smoke plume, instant barbecue. Federal investigators saw a bird burn about every two minutes. One environmental group claims the plant kills up to 28,000 birds each year.

The American Bird Conservancy estimates that wind turbines chop up 440,000 birds each year, but an analyst writing in the Wildlife Society Bulletin says it’s closer to 573,000 in addition to 888,000 bats. ( I thought bats only come out at night —our bats did, and slept all day). Airline pilots whose course takes them near the solar plants report being blinded.

The Obama administration remains wildly enthusiastic, and gave Ivanpah a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz called Ivanpah “a shining example of how America is becoming a world leader in solar energy.” Interestingly, everybody else is trying to get out of solar energy because it’s too expensive. And the sun does go down at night.

I’m not sure what bird fatalities that extensive mean. More mosquitoes, a return of Malaria, and that other new disease transmitted by mosquitoes? What about migratory birds and birds of prey? There is a balance of nature to some extent and if it gets out of whack there are unintended consequences. Europeans still kill off their songbirds by erecting great nets along the flyways to catch them. Whole fried or pickled songbirds were considered a gustatory treat. I thought the practice was outlawed, but apparently not.

The Mohave Desert Food Chain:

  • Raptors (golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, falcons, owls),Small insect-eating birds (finches, warblers, gnatcatcher, doves, bats),

    Reptiles (desert tortoise, Chuckawalla lizard),

    Moths and insects (yucca moths, soaptree moths, other insects)

    Yucca plants (Joshua trees, soaptree yuccas, etc.)

    The raptors prey on the small birds; the small birds and reptiles forage on insects; yucca moths and butterflies pollinate yucca trees and other plants; and yucca trees provide habitat and nectar for yucca moths. Without yucca moths, you have no Joshua trees.




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