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HomeSorted by levelC1 - AdvancedWind turbines are much friendlier to birds than oil-and-gas drilling

Wind turbines are much friendlier to birds than oil-and-gas drilling

[Reading level: C1 – Advanced]

Birders get nervous when they see landscapes covered in wind turbines. When the wind gets going, their blades can spin at well over 200km per hour. It is easy to imagine careless birds getting chopped to bits. Campaigners often point to the possibility when opposing the building of new wind farms.

 

No one doubts that wind turbines do indeed kill at least some birds. But a new analysis of American data, published in Environmental Science & Technology, suggests the numbers are negligible, and have little impact on bird populations.

 

 

Wind power has expanded dramatically in America over the past 20 years, from 2.6 gigawatts of installed capacity on land in 2000 to 122 gigawatts in 2020. Many studies have analysed the effects in specific locations or on specific bird species. But few have looked at the effects on wildlife at the population level. Enter Erik Katovich, an economist at the University of Geneva. Dr Katovich made use of the Christmas Bird Count, a citizen-science project run by the National Audubon Society, an American non-profit outfit. Volunteers count birds they spot over Christmas, and the society compiles the numbers. Its records stretch back over a century.

 

Dr Katovich assumed, reasonably, that if wind turbines harmed bird populations, then the numbers seen in the Christmas Bird Count would drop in places where new turbines had been built. He combined bird population and species maps with the locations and construction dates of all wind turbines in the United States, with the exceptions of Alaska and Hawaii, between 2000 and 2020. He found that building turbines had no discernible effect on bird populations. That reassuring finding held even when he looked specifically at large birds like hawks, vultures and eagles that many people believe are particularly vulnerable to being struck.

 

But Dr Katovich did not confine his analysis to wind power alone. He also examined oil-and-gas extraction. Like wind power, this has boomed in America over the past couple of decades, with the rise of shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of rocks. Production rose from 37m cubic metres in 2007 to 740m cubic metres in 2020.

 

Wind power, in other words, not only produces far less planet-heating carbon dioxide and methane than do fossil fuels. It appears to be significantly less damaging to wildlife, too. Yet that is not the impression you would get from reading the news.

 

 

Dr Katovich found 173 stories in major American news outlets reporting the supposed negative effects that wind turbines had on birds in 2020, compared with only 46 stories discussing the effects of oil-and-gas wells. Wind turbines might look dramatic. But their effect on birds is not.

 

Source: The Economist

WORD BANK:

birder /ˈbɝː.dɚ/ (n): người ngắm chim

blade /bleɪd/ (n): cánh quạt

chop /tʃɑːp/ [B2] (v): chặt

oppose /əˈpoʊz/ [B2] (v): phản đối

analysis /əˈnæl.ə.sɪs/ [B2] (n): phân tích

negligible /ˈneɡ.lə.dʒə.bəl/ [C2] (adj): không đáng kể

society /səˈsaɪ.ə.t̬i/ [B2] (n): hiệp hội

compile /kəmˈpaɪl/ [C1] (v): tổng hợp

stretch /stretʃ/ [C2] (v): trải dài

assume /əˈsuːm/ [B2] (v): giả định

discernible /dɪˈsɝː.nə.bəl/ (adj – formal): rõ rệt

reassure /ˌriː.əˈʃʊr/ [C1] (v): trấn an

finding /ˈfaɪn.dɪŋ/ (n): phát hiện, khám phá

hold even (v): giữ vững

hawk /hɑːk/ (n): diều hâu

vulture /ˈvʌl.tʃɚ/ (n): kền kền

vulnerable to sth /ˈvʌl.nɚ.ə.bəl/ [C2] (adj): dễ bị tổn thương trước cái gì

confine sth to sth /kənˈfaɪn/ [C2] (v): giới hạn cái gì ở mức độ, phạm vi nào

extraction /ɪkˈstræk.ʃən/ (n): khai thác

shale /ʃeɪl/ (n): đá phiến

hydraulic fracturing /haɪˈdrɑː.lɪk ˈfræk.tʃə.rɪŋ// (n): thủy lực cắt phá

cubic metre /ˈkjuː.bɪk ˈmiː.t̬ɚ/ (n): mét khối

well /wel/ (n): giếng (dầu, nước)

reveal /rɪˈviːl/ [B2] (v): cho thấy

drill /drɪl/ (v): khoan

disturbance /dɪˈstɝː.bəns/ [C1] (n): sự xáo trộn

designate /ˈdez.ɪɡ.neɪt/ (v): chỉ định

hub /hʌb/ (n): trung tâm

feeding ground (n): nơi kiếm ăn

breed /briːd/ [B2] (v): sinh sản

news outlet /nuːz ˈaʊt.let/ (n): hãng tin


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