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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

John Kerry calls for ‘disinformation campaign’ on wind turbines

Offshore wind farms are essential to reducing the impact of climate change, despite a recent uptick in controversy over their impact on wildlife, U.S. Climate Change Commissioner John Kerry said news week.

“When you talk about wildlife, the creatures beneath the water and creatures above the sea, can a bird end up being the victim of that blade? Yes, I think we know that can happen. But on the other hand, birds are also very receptive in flight, and their radar is clearly able to shy away from both noise and visual noise,” Kerry said ahead of the Our Ocean 2023 conference, taking place in Panama on March 2 becomes.

“Look at the average highway in any country in the world. Cars beat birds. I don’t hear anyone complaining about it or trains or planes. It’s a balance. And I think it’s not a crisis in my opinion.”

Offshore wind energy is generated by turbines that are usually built at sea to take advantage of high wind speeds. The Biden administration has a goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind farms by 2030. This would be enough to power 10 million homes. Currently, the US has two offshore wind farms in operation off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia. But there are many more plans in the pipeline.

Surveying and preparatory work for an offshore wind farm off the coast of New Jersey is currently underway.

Although offshore wind farms represent an opportunity for renewable energy in the climate crisis, many are opposed to it.

The marine conservation group Clean Ocean Action is actively promoting more responsible offshore wind development. It claims that thousands of whales are harassed by offshore wind companies every year.

Wildlife groups claim that the development and operation of offshore wind can affect nearby animals by disrupting their habitat. Some fear birds will be injured by the turbines or driven from areas where they normally forage.

In 2013, former Republican Senator David Vitter opposed an Obama administration rule that allowed eagles to be accidentally killed off farms under a 30-year permit. The rule was proposed to ensure wind farms could operate for decades, but the senator said at the time it would allow them to achieve “high mortality rates”.

During a recent rally in South Carolina, Donald Trump reiterated his stance on offshore wind, claiming the turbines are killing “all our eagles and our birds.”

Opposition to offshore wind farms is not new. For years, people have campaigned against them for various reasons, citing them as a threat to wildlife and an eyesore. An example of this was Cape Wind, an offshore wind farm proposed in 2001. The project never materialized after a decade of opposition from stakeholders. Opponents feared that the project would be unsightly for the area and negatively impact tourism. Opponents included former Senator Ted Kennedy and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

In recent months, local mayors and politicians such as Marjorie Taylor Greene have called for halting offshore wind development on the East Coast in light of a recent spate of whale strandings in the region. But there is no evidence that survey work harms the whales.

“I think people are trying to make something out of a wind turbine floating in the ocean that’s now capable of producing a significant amount of electricity. And I think it’s one of the available solutions to the problems we’re facing. I think a lot of bad information is made up,” said Kerry, a former secretary of state.

Scientists believe the current debate surrounding offshore wind operations on the East Coast and whale deaths in the same area are unrelated. But that doesn’t mean caution isn’t needed.

Since early December, 23 whales of various species have washed up dead on the shores of New York and New Jersey. This is part of an ongoing trend in the region. Since 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported an “unusual fatality event” along the East Coast due to increasing numbers of large cetaceans — particularly humpback whales — washing ashore during those years.

In a speech on The Sean Hannity Show in February, Greene claimed that the offshore wind operations were killing the whales.

“People are sounding the alarm about how [wind farms] not only kill unknown thousands of bird species, but also cause whales to beach themselves in record numbers,” Greene said on the show.

But there’s no evidence linking the recent whale die-off to offshore wind development, said Graeme Shannon, a professor of zoology at Britain’s Bangor University School of Natural Sciences news week.

“Indeed there are a number of very large offshore wind farms that have been built in the coastal waters of Europe and I am not aware of any reports that these wind farms have been directly linked to whale kills in the region,” said Shannon.

“However, it is important to note that noise generated by offshore construction work can have behavioral and physiological costs for animals in the vicinity of these developments, but is unlikely to be the direct cause of death. Nonetheless, it is vital that scientists are supported in their attempts to examine the evidence and understand what has led to increased strandings in this region.”

Kerry believes there is a lot of disinformation surrounding offshore wind as a whole.

In February, a group of Senate Republicans intensified campaigns to end wind farm development in New Jersey because of this whale killer. Steven Oroho, a Republican Senate leader based in Sparta Township, New Jersey, said in a statement that offshore wind development was the “only change in our waters” as whales began washing up.

However, scientists and independent agencies remain steadfast that there is no evidence to support this. The Marine Mammal Commission, an independent government agency, has reiterated this point, noting that strandings are not exclusive to this area – they occur worldwide and can be caused by a variety of reasons such as: B. Injuries from Ship Attacks.

“It’s part of the disinformation campaign by certain political entities around the world,” Kerry said. “They have to do what they do based on science and facts and they don’t do that. In some cases they are arguing on behalf of an existing industry that doesn’t want to change, or they are arguing as a matter of anti-waking up… The fact is, there are those out there who are just against renewables, against the energy transition, against embracing the idea of ​​a climate crisis.”

The placement of offshore wind activities should be considered, Kerry said, but “broadly” this needs to be balanced with the climate crisis the planet is currently facing.

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