In my reporting on clean energy misinformation I've seen one argument over and over.

Wind turbines kill birds.

While this is true, it misses an important piece of context:

Fossil fuel power plants kill 35x more birds per GWh than wind turbines do.

Over the last month, I've spent time in 40 clean energy opposition Facebook groups.

In these groups I frequently see images of birds killed by wind turbines and links to studies on the topic.
As I've written, these images and posts can have real world impacts. They can turn clean energy supporters into passionate opponents.

But there's a problem with the bird argument.

It fails to put the number of birds killed by wind turbines in context. Given that wind energy is an alternative to fossil fuel energy, we have to ask:

How many birds do fossil fuel power plants kill?
In 2012, researchers at Vermont Law School set out to answer this question.

They found that wind turbines kill 0.27 birds per gigawatt-hour (GWh). But fossil fuel power plants kill a staggering 9.4 fatalities per GWh.…
In other words, fossil fuel power plants kill 35x more birds per unit of electricity than wind turbines.

So how do fossil fuel power plants kill birds?

1. Mining for coal and other fossil fuels requires activities like mountaintop removal. This results in habitat loss.
2. Burning these fossil fuels causes acid rain, which directly and indirectly harms birds.

As an example, a 2002 study found that acid rain caused the wood thrush population to decline in the United States by 2% to 5%.…
3. Lastly, fossil fuel pollution causes climate change, which is "the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other avian wildlife."

According to the IPPC, 12% of birds are at significant risk of global extinction.…
All of this led the author of the study to conclude:

"The wider use of wind energy can save wildlife and birds as it displaces more harmful sources of electricity."

In other words, the best way to protect birds is to displace fossil fuels.
Interested in reading more of my reporting on clean energy misinformation?

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More from @curious_founder

Nov 21
*taps mic*

I have some exciting news to share.

Carbon Switch is being acquired* by Rewiring America!…
I first met the @rewiringamerica team about 2 years ago, shortly after I started Carbon Switch.

On my first call with @adlaskey, he told me about their plan to convince Congress to pass legislation with billions of dollars of incentives for people to electrify everything.
At the time, I remember thinking that there was no way this small team of less than 5 people could accomplish something so ambitious.

But I was wrong.
Read 10 tweets
Nov 18
For the last month I've been reporting on a group of people who travel across America blocking wind and solar projects.

This group has passed clean energy opposition laws in states across the country.

Here's the story of one man who has been doing this for 10+ years.

For more than a decade, Kevon Martis has traveled the country with little more than a 100 slide PowerPoint presentation.

His goal: Stop America's transition to clean energy.
Martis spent most of his career in the construction industry. But in 2011, he rebranded himself as an energy expert.

He quickly learned that, armed with enough studies and facts, people would listen to him.
Read 16 tweets
Nov 15
Recently there have been a lot of news stories about residents suing offshore wind projects.

But most stories fail to mention an important detail:

Many of the lawsuits are being funded by a think tank that gets money from the fossil fuel industry.

In January, Reuters wrote an article about a group of Long Island residents suing the Biden administration over its offshore wind leases. Image
The article positions Save Long Beach Island — the nonprofit behind the lawsuit — as a small grassroots group of residents.

But dig a little deeper and you'll find that there's much more to this story.
Read 13 tweets
Nov 7
Amazon tells its customers and investors that it is committed to climate action.

So I looked at which candidates the company is supporting in the 2022 midterms.

I discovered that Amazon has given $138,000 to 25 climate deniers.

Here's who the company is supporting:

Amazon has given South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace $10,000.

(This is the max amount allowed under federal campaign finance laws).

In 2020, she said, "If you look at the history of Earth, we’ve had climate changes many times, over 130 times over millions of years...
...And so part of it might be man-made; part of it might be just natural environmental causes as part of the cycle of Earth.”

(This is false. 99.9% of peer-reviewed scientific papers conclude that climate change is mainly caused by humans).
Read 9 tweets
Nov 3
A dark money group is running ads promoting fossil fuels and attacking clean energy in the final weeks before the election.

The PAC has spent more than $1 million to reach voters in 7 swing states.

And someone just sent me documents revealing who's funding it.

In the last two months, Affordable Energy Fund — a super PAC based in DC — spent more than $1 million on direct mail and Facebook ads.

The ads appeared to target voters in swing states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
One ad tells voters in Ohio that natural gas is clean, despite the fact that it causes climate change and air pollution.

Another ad claims that wind energy is expensive, despite the fact that it is cheaper to build than fossil fuel alternatives.
Read 10 tweets
Nov 1
Recently I learned about a man who has trained 1,000+ people to block wind and solar projects.

I read through all his training materials, presentations, and seminars.

Here's what I learned about him and how his students plan to "win the war on clean energy."

The odds are pretty good you haven't heard of this man, John Droz, Jr.

He's only been interviewed by a few journalists. And when asked about his influence he always responds the same way:

"This story isn't about me." Image
But the story of climate action and delay in America is very much about Droz.

For most of his life, Droz was a semi-retired real estate developer. In 2011, he reinvented himself and became a "physicist."

That year, his home state of N.C. debated a bill about climate change.
Read 19 tweets

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