Public Comment

Commentary: Wind Turbines Will Kill Birds and Bats

Tuesday April 04, 2006

Bird-killing guillotines in Berkeley? Your recent article, “Berkeley Plans to Accept ‘Free’ Wind Turbine for Marina” (Daily Planet, March 31) was quite depressing. It seems that the City of Berkeley is planning on allowing Southwest Wind Power, Inc. to install one of its industrial electricity-generating wind turbines on the Marina as part of a “green energy” demonstration project. 

The corporate logic of this supposedly free gift should be quite obvious to one and all. If a corporation can get the City of Berkeley to accept and approve use of its new technology, then the corporation can happily market its product to towns and cities across the country. This activity is just exploiting Berkeley’s traditional reputation as being a very progressive city. That reputation may have been deserved twenty or thirty years ago, but it is a somewhat dubious notion these days. 

This same corporate scheme was used in the selling of the highly intrusive tracking technology used in the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips implanted in every book in the Berkeley Public Library several years ago. Once this corporation got Berkeley to accept and install the RFID system, it was easy for them to sell it elsewhere. 

Now we are being treated to the spectacle of the coordinator of the Shoreline Nature Center at the Marina, Ms. Patty McDonald, saying about the new high-tech wind turbines, “We can’t be so scared by the technology that we don’t try (it).” By this ignorant lack of thought, she asserts that we can no longer think critically and come to intelligent decisions. By her attitude, we should also consider installing a nuclear reactor on the Marina. One can easily read the scientific and environmental literature available on the Internet about the many deficiencies and problems associated with modern high-tech industrial wind turbines, but Ms. McDonald just can’t seem to be bothered with this thoughtful approach. 

She also wants to fall back on to the alleged expertise and morality of the Audubon Society in the matter of the bird killing by these industrial wind turbines. Unfortunately, the Audubon Society is just another large corporate entity with its own agenda, which does not always place protecting all bird life at the top of its priorities. The National Audubon Society has long been trying to play God by advocating the killing of certain plants and animals in favor of other plants and animals.  

Ms. McDonald also seems to suggest that just because wind turbines in the Altamont Pass area have an awful record of killing several hundred hawks and other birds each year that somehow, a wind turbine installed in the Berkeley Marina would not repeat this sort of killing. Is this notion faith-based or what?  

Modern industrial wind turbines are just giant metal bird-killing guillotines. Now there is news from West Virginia and Pennsylvania that these machines are also killing hundreds of bats each year. We need to find other more passive ways to generate and conserve energy. Solar energy comes to mind. Increased vehicle fuel efficiency requirements would be highly useful. Maybe we should stop pigging out with our massive SUVs, our massive houses and our endless reproduction and our covering the earth with our roads, malls, factories and houses.  

In the 1960s and the 1970s, Berkeley was open and supportive of progressive and positive social change. Now, in the 21st century, Berkeley seems open to regressive corporate technology. 


James K. Sayre is an Oakland resident.