The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Ryan Zinke Blames Wind Turbines for Contributing to Global Warming
At the CERAWeek energy industry conference in Houston this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he's "pro-energy across the board" but made it clear that he's in favor of oil and gas over other types of domestic energy production.
According to Bloomberg, Zinke praised the Trump administration's push for fossil fuels, from expanding offshore oil drilling to slashing regulations. He also advocated for a partnership with oil and gas companies.
"Interior should not be in the business of being an adversary. We should be in the business of being a partner," the former Montana Congressman said in front of representatives from energy companies and oil-producing countries.
Zinke admitted that "certainly oil and gas and coal have a consequence on carbon," but he then slammed wind turbines for their carbon footprint and for killing birds—a notorious charge from his windmill-hating boss in the White House.
"We probably chop us as many as 750,000 birds a year with wind, and the carbon footprint on wind is significant," Zinke said.
Zinke's remark is peculiar for two reasons. First, as TIME pointed out:
"Spread out over the life cycle of a typical turbine, scientists estimate that the typical wind plant generates between .02 and .04 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Even at the high end, that's less than 3 percent of the emissions from coal-generated electricity and less than 7 percent of the emissions from natural gas-generated electricity."
Secondly, yes, birds are killed by turbines, but "Zinke is exaggerating the figure beyond virtually all published estimates," Axios noted, adding "turbines are a drop in the bucket when it comes to the human-related causes of bird deaths."
Here's a graph from Zinke's own agency for measure. Note how oil pits kill far many more birds than turbines.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
"Wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year, but the biggest threat to birds is climate change," said Garry George, Audubon's director of renewable energy. "More than half of the bird species in North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures."
The Audubon favors properly-sited and operated wind and solar power, as renewable energy sources that help reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change.
During the same CERAWeek talk, Zinke ranted against solar facilities built on public lands for taking up hunting and recreational space, Bloomberg reported.
However, the interior secretary sure doesn't seem to object when oil and gas interests want to take the lands.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dan Gray
- Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
- A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
- It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.
New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.
By Jeff Turrentine
Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.
By Mark Mancini
On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.
By Alex Schwartz
Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?