As I sat down to write this, a quick check showed that 40% of the electricity being generated in the region from northern Texas through North Dakota was wind power. The following is condensed to meet the paper’s letter policy.
Don’t think wind energy is “green?” Its carbon footprint is roughly one-40th that of natural gas and one-19th that of coal. Energy payback period for a large turbine is three to six months, with a 20-year life expectancy. After the initial lifespan, foundations can be re-powered with a new turbine, new blades, or both. Most components are recyclable.
Efforts are being made to recycle the rest, most notably, the blades. Should they end up as landfill, they are among the most inert, non-toxic items there, as opposed to spent fuel from nuclear plants or coal ash. A short list of supporters of properly-sited wind farms includes the Izaak Walton League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Audubon Society, and Sierra Club .
Bats and birds? Wind farms must be properly sited to minimize bird and bat deaths. But far larger numbers are killed by climate change and habitat loss, collisions with windows, cats, lead-poisoning from hunting residue, hunting, pesticides, and vehicles.
In light of the recent bleak outlook presented by the UN Environment Program for the future of our planet, without a concerted effort to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, we need to embrace renewable sources of electricity, sooner rather than later.