General Question

hoosier_banana's avatar

Does anyone care that windmills kill bats?

Asked by hoosier_banana (829points) September 10th, 2008

I do, and I think windmills are ugly.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

47 Answers

bluemukaki's avatar

I care plenty, there’s a reason Gotham City still uses coal power.

critter1982's avatar

I have about 200 bats living in my attic. Trust me I wish that windmill would kill all of the bats in my attic.

In all seriousness I do care. I believe I read somewhere that a single bat eats about 1,000 bugs every night.

Randy's avatar

They are a great, cheap source of energy. I’ll take the windmills over the bats.

hoosier_banana's avatar

Well Randy, I hope your cheap ass likes mosquitoes too!

shilolo's avatar

And I hope you like rabies.

Randy's avatar

@hoosier, I’m not to affraid of them. Windmills are better on the environment as well.

hoosier_banana's avatar

Malaria trumps rabies.

Why not design them so they don’t kill bats?

shilolo's avatar

Um, malaria? In the USA? I don’t think so. But rabies from bats, yes. Besides, at least there is a treatment for malaria, whereas there really isn’t one for rabies.

RandomMrdan's avatar

survival of the fittest…let the bats fly into wind mills if they want…no one will die of rabies…curable.

gailcalled's avatar

Bats have more problems now than windmills. White-nose syndrome
And bats are among the good guys.

shilolo's avatar

Removed by shilolo

augustlan's avatar

@gail: First the bees, now the bats…scary.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@shilolo isn’t it preventable though?

shilolo's avatar

With anti-rabies immunoglobulin shots, and rabies vaccine, yes. Once you actually have rabies, you’re toast…

JackAdams's avatar

With the built-in sonar that bats have, I seriously doubt that they will be flying into any windmills, anytime soon.

For those who seriously care about Bat Conservation, there is an organization you may wish to join.

delirium's avatar

I do care about bats, but I really doubt that there’s an intriguing insect population around wind fields in the first place. Secondly, why bats and not birds?

I really think the bat-windmill thing is exaggerated. Also… i’m not all that worried about the bat populations around here. We have enough little brown bats to go around.

kevbo's avatar

Interesting that windmills have been around for 1500 years, and we’re just recently starting to use them on a commercial scale.

When bats become a threatened species, I’ll be for bats.

mrjadkins's avatar

Can we train the windmills to kill cats?

Just kidding.

sarapnsc's avatar

You would think after a bat seen his buddies getting swiped, they wouldn’t go into the windmill. Are they sucked in, or do they run into them? What’s the intelligence of a bat?

arnbev959's avatar

@kevbo: I’m for bats not becoming a threatened species in the first place.

delirium's avatar

I don’t think that bats have that level of unerstanding consequence… even so, they’re not stupid. Bats go where the bugs are. Near a windmill is the exact opposite of happy insect place. As long as we don’t put lights on the windmills, it should be fine. Bats don’t go gallivanting around. They’re hunters, and they hunt in groups. They’re just not interested in big moving things.

edit: Also, a good place for a wind field isn’t also a good place for a bat habitat. Wind fields need high up extremely open space. Bats live in trees, or towers, or caves…. all things that wouldn’t likely be near a wind field.

hoosier_banana's avatar

There were 37 cases of rabies reported between 1990 and 2003.
There have been 8 deaths from west nile so far this year. Bats and other wildlife are worth our time and consideration, they do more for us than we do for them.

Renewable energy has to hold itself accountable just as it holds the fossil fuel industry responsible for it’s impacts.

del- There is this low pressure zone around the blades that makes the bats delicate lungs explode from the rapid pressure change. No-one knows why the bats don’t avoid the windmills like they do our heads every night, but I am sure there is a solution.

Les's avatar

I think any of our species technology ends up adversely affecting another species or our world in one way or the other. Our giant skyscrapers reflect sunlight so birds fly into them, burning coal does a number on our atmosphere, we have a giant ozone hole (believe me, it is still there. I measured it yesterday.), etc. etc. The fact that we created windmills as an attempt to reduce the amount of pollution we force into the atmosphere is a great idea. They kill bats, maybe. I don’t know. So far, I have not seen any proof on this thread to suggest that they do. But for the sake of argument, lets just say they do. This is not the first time something we created hurts something else, is it? And I’m not saying two wrongs make a right. I’m just saying that nothing we do is perfect, and until we can create that “perfect” technological advance, we may have to deal with a few less bats here and there. (I’m going to also have to agree with everyone on this thread who mentioned the bats’ use of sonar. I find it very hard to believe that bats, whose sonar is so sensitive as to be able to locate swarms of flying gnats, would not “hear” the reverberations of a GIANT windmill lurking in their path.)

And windmills are not ugly. I live in Wyoming, and they are everywhere. I love this one field where there are oil pumps on one side and windmills on the other. What a cool juxtaposition. I think the windmills are beautiful.

delirium's avatar

If its something you’re interested in and feel passionately about, go to school and study it and solve it. If no one has a solution yet… that just means there’s room to find one.

We ultimately care, but for most people it doesn’t make it on the list of top priorities. People, for me, come first… and animals that are currently on the brink of extinction. I understand that some bats may be killed by windmills, but they mate quickly and have a practically endless food source. If moths haven’t died out from getting zapped by lightbulbs, i’m not too worried about their predators.

hoosier_banana's avatar

Maybe a special light would keep them away?

8lightminutesaway's avatar

no technology is perfect. the good of windmills far outweighs the death of a few bats, I think. besides, what view do you like better: a windmill or a smokestack with a trail of smog miles long?

hoosier_banana's avatar

Bats hate light.

Les's avatar

OK, so not to switch sides here (I still stand by what I just wrote), but I found an article. And it is from a reputable source: Scientific American
It sounds like it is being investigated, but people aren’t sure what to do about the situation. @hoosier: This is just the way science works, in general. We have ideas about how to improve the lives of all of the species on the planet, but many of these ideas come at the cost of other things. Example: I am studying the ozone hole over Antarctica right now. We can all agree that the ozone hole is not good for life on earth, but what can we do about it? Well, the first thing we have to do is monitor it, to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. So we launch balloons carrying little instruments that travel up through the atmosphere, recording ozone concentrations. However, after the balloon bursts and the instrument (and giant plastic balloon) fall to the earth, we do not go and find them. It just isn’t cost effective to risk lives and fuel to fly a helicopter out over the sea ice to locate a tiny ozone instrument. But, the scientific community has decided that the adverse effects of not monitoring the ozone hole far outweigh the adverse effects of a few ozone instruments landing in the ocean. It isn’t perfect, and neither are the windmills, but we are not a perfect species, and we have to do the best we can.

delirium's avatar

Hmmmmm. Interesting article. Thanks Les!

8lightminutesaway's avatar

what about cars and the vast amounts of roadkill everyday? i dont think any animals have gone extinct from cars hitting them.

hoosier_banana's avatar

@Les- would the hole in the ozone be smaller if we detected the harm and banned CFC’s sooner? I am sure it would have happened faster if less people stood in the way of regulation or dismissed the issue. You of all people should understand how swift action can make a difference.

The experts are worried and so am I.

bodyhead's avatar

There are different types of wind turbines. Not every wind turbine looks like the typical three propeller energy generator.

Not only do I think they look great, the fact that they mean less pollution far outweighs any argument around the aesthetics of the device. Coal plants aren’t pouring smoke into the air and nuclear plants aren’t generating nuclear waste for every watt generated.

Birds, squirrels, cats, deer, armadillos, possums, and dogs (etc) all get hit by cars on a daily basis. We’re not going to ban cars just because a few animals run into the street.

Since no one else did, I thought I would link to an article about windmills killing bats. Apparently, it’s a lot worse problem then any of us thought. Windmills do kill bats. The problem with the windmills in the article is that they spin at 140 mph and emit an electrical hum that confuses the bat’s sonar. This essential turns a windmill into a bat blender. That’s simply because of the way the windmill was designed. There are a bunch of different ways we could fix this problem. (One would be gearing the windmill higher so it has a much slower max speed)

It has also been suggested that wind dams could be safer and more effective then the wind turbines.

Any step that moves us towards a non-polluting energy source is a good step. Both solar and wind energy are in the infantile stages. We can work out the bugs as we move forward just like we always do with technology.

jdegrazia's avatar

@bodyhead I’m with you. We have a windmill design problem on our hands. 140mph humming blades are a worry. Windmills in general are not. At least not because of the bat accident (or bird accident) issue.

Skyrail's avatar

It’s a matter of balance.

I see both sides of the story, like numerous others, infact I presume most others here.

If we were to just go about and construct thousands of these wind turbines across the countrieside with no opposition we will just destroy it all. That’s what will happen, humans do that. We act before we think, it’s in our nature. If there is opposition however we think, we have to, we have to sit down, reconsider, and usually for the better. But sometimes if we get too pettie about these things we get nowhere. I’m sure there are numerous species endangered from rising sea levels due to global warming, but there will also be species made endangered by what we build. It happens, it is inevitable, it’s the greater of two evils scenario.

Yes the opposition is needed otherwise people will sweep through without a care in the world. But sometimes we need to stand back and look at the bigger picture. We can not win 100%. It just won’t happen. Every way of generating electricity. Every single way. Will have it’s consequences. And people will fight to no end to stop them building new power generation facilities when in the long run it’s for the better. Sure making a species or two endangered should be frowned upon, and things should be changed to try and reduce the number of animal deaths. I’m not saying it’s good, but people are also complaining about how certain animals are being affected by global warming.

We will all lose some way or another. If anyone can find an energy source that is 90%+ reliable (the closer to 100% the better), doesn’t effect wildlife, can be put anywhere, can help anyone in the world (in the rain forests, in the cities, in the deserts, on islands), is cheap and freely available 24/7, non-pollutive, or even a combination of energy sources, then I take my hat off to you.

Problem with Wind Power I’ve not really read it, but it looks interesting. As for how truthful it is, I don’t know.

There will always be opposition. Bat lovers are just one of many.

Les's avatar

@hoosier: Sure. Your statement is true. But the other point of science is the testing of theory. The ozone hole was detected as soon as the technology caught up to being able to detect it. And part of the testing of theory is that people shouldn’t just jump on any old bandwagon that happens to come along. What I mean is, governments and the public are right to question scientific theories. So a bunch of scientists said “We think CFCs are depleting the ozone layer.” Well, prove it. And they did. And people got to work deciding what could be done to fix it. I’d imagine it’d be the same for the bat slaying monsters (Where is Don Quixote when you need him?). We have recognized the problem, someone asked “Prove it.”, and according to that article I found, attempts are being made to alleviate the situation.
But these things take time. I would love it if issues could be fixed immediately upon recognition, but that isn’t reality. And besides. If there was no ozone hole, I’d be out of a job. JK

hoosier_banana's avatar

@Les: It took over 20 years from the detection of the ozone issue to the the phase out of CFCs. No-one cared until a hole formed, then everybody freaked. Will bats have to be endangered before you start to care, when your own ass is on the line? Also, if conventional windmills increase in number so much that bats are seriously at risk what would you propose we do; phase out windmills like we did CFCs, just take them down? Ha, bats would be doomed and we would be in deep.

I will reiterate my point, better designs are needed for full scale wind power so we don’t screw things up again, like oil or the oceans or the ozone layer. 20 years is too long to argue there is a problem here, it needs to be addressed before we invest.

hoosier_banana's avatar

An immediate solution would be a “Bat Safe Certification” for wind power generators, but people would still have to care, that’s critical.

Les's avatar

@hoosier: Jesus Christ. I don’t disagree with you! I am passionate about the work I do, and I wish there were more people who understood that problems exist in our society and they need to be remedied. And please don’t lecture me on the history of the ozone hole. I am sitting on the continent that the hole is over as we speak, and I probably know a fair bit more about it than you do.
That aside, take the advice of others on this thread and go and DO something about it if you feel so passionately about the bats. That’s what draws people to these fields; that’s why policies are being changed and laws are being reformed. So instead of sitting here on Fluther, continuously belaboring your point to people who AGREE with you, go out there and do something about it!!

hoosier_banana's avatar

Whoa dude. If you care, just say it, I was not feeling the love at all.

Les's avatar

i’m not a dude.

hoosier_banana's avatar

How is the ozone hole? What are the current factors contributing to the problem?

8lightminutesaway's avatar

i just remembered: When climate change gets in full swing, and say we did everything we could to slow it down, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 2500 scientists who collectively won a nobel prize) reports that the average temperature will increase by at least 2 degrees celsius and as much as 1/3 of all animals will become threatened/endangered, but we will have avoided the worst effects.

I just saw this in a presentation today and was surprised I hadn’t known this fact before because of my previous research into climate change and the IPCC reports. Did I remember it correctly? I definitely saw the 1/3 fact somewhere. I’m 85% confident on the above factoid

Zaku's avatar

@delirium – You made some reasonable and intelligent considerations, though I think you are incorrect in the details of bat behavior and what is in fact happening, as well as how important it is. I want to point to something else though that surprised me about what you wrote: “People, for me, come first… and animals that are currently on the brink of extinction. I understand that some bats may be killed by windmills, but they mate quickly and have a practically endless food source.”.

Consider as if they were a true and complete picture just these lines from this article :

“He said there are no good estimates of how many bats would be killed nationwide if the association’s projection of 78,000 turbines was reached, but he estimated it would be far higher than 50,000.

“They can’t sustain that kind of kill rate,” Tuttle said, noting that bats are among the slowest-reproducing mammals — generally one pup each year, although some species have two to four.

“Bats are just as important by night as birds are by day,” he said. Indeed, bats play an important ecological role by eating mosquitoes and such crop-destroying insects as moths, locusts and grasshoppers.”

What I’m surprised by is that you of all Flutherers would be saying how people come first and animals on the brink of extinction. I thought you’d be keenly aware that that thought pattern is what leads to humans as a whole causing extinctions as a pattern. Why do we think humans aren’t subject to the laws of survival in the world’s ecosystem? The thinking that human survival and convenience comes first in the short term, is what’s endangering all species in the long term.

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