Wind energy’s dirty secret:

Wind energy’s dirty secret: Blizzard

Mining mineral for windmill magnets causes environmental disaster
Last Updated: February 26, 2011 7:48pm

What’s the fastest growing cash crop in rural Ontario — after pot, that is?
Try wind turbines.
These ugly eyesores are sprouting like weeds and are being foisted on unwilling hosts in rural Ontario.
Two weeks ago, Energy Minister Brad Duguid scrapped plans to put offshore turbines in Lake Ontario — close to his riding.
On Thursday, though, he announced a fresh crop in rural Ontario — this time for Smithville, in Tory Leader Tim Hudak’s Niagara riding.
While the Liberals insist it’s all about clean energy, a recent article in a British newspaper shows wind turbines are anything but green.
A story by Simon Parry and Ed Douglas in the Daily Mail, Jan. 29, describes a horrific toxic stew brewing in China as a result of our search for the great, green holy grail.
The toxic lake left behind after mining for “rare earth metals” needed for the turbines’ magnets is creating an environmental boondoggle of epic proportions.
(There are 17 rare earth metals, so called not because they’re scarce, but because they occur in scattered deposits of minerals and are not concentrated. According to the article, one of those, Neodymium, is commonly used to make the most powerful magnets in the world.)
The city of Baotou, in Inner Mongolia, is home to more than 90% of the world’s rare earth metals.
“On the outskirts of one of China’s most polluted cities, an old farmer stares despairingly out across an immense lake of bubbling toxic waste covered in black dust. He remembers it as fields of wheat and corn,” says the lead paragraph. It continues.
The process used to extract the element from the ground and processing it, “has an appalling environmental impact that raises serious questions over the credibility of so-called green technology.
“Hidden out of sight behind smoke-shrouded factory complexes in the city of Baotou, and patrolled by platoons of security guards, lies a five-mile wide ‘tailing’ lake. It has killed farmland for miles around, made thousands of people ill and put one of China’s key waterways in jeopardy,” says the article.
“This vast, hissing cauldron of chemicals is the dumping ground for seven million tons a year of mined rare earth after it has been doused in acid and chemicals and processed through red-hot furnaces to extract its components.”
So, you’re still convinced this is the clean, green energy of the future? This makes the oilsands look pristine.
“Rusting pipelines meander for miles from factories processing rare earths in Baotou out to the man-made lake where, mixed with water, the foul-smelling radioactive waste from this industrial process is pumped day after day. No signposts and no paved roads lead here, and as we approach security guards shoo us away and tail us. When we finally break through the cordon and climb sand dunes to reach its brim, an apocalyptic sight greets us: A giant, secret toxic dump, made bigger by every wind turbine we build.”
And here in Ontario, we’re building them by the thousand. What’s our share of this mess?
The story quotes retired farmer Su Bairen, 69: “‘At first it was just a hole in the ground,’ he says. ‘When it dried in the winter and summer, it turned into a black crust and children would play on it. Then one or two of them fell through and drowned in the sludge below. Since then, children have stayed away.’”
Plants withered. Livestock died.
“Villagers say their teeth began to fall out, their hair turned white at unusually young ages, and they suffered from severe skin and respiratory diseases. Children were born with soft bones and cancer rates rocketed,” says the Mail.
Still gung-ho to go green?
Every time I see a new turbine I’ll think of those children dying horrific deaths. And I’ll hang my head in shame at the environmental disaster we’ve created. Twitter: @ChrizBlizz

[quote=“rcooke, post:1, topic:57106”]

Wind energy’s dirty secret: Blizzard

Mining mineral for windmill magnets causes environmental disaster
Last Updated: February 26, 2011 7:48pm


I don’t know why this woman has such a hate on for windmills…as if the windmills are causing this environmental problem. She should have a look at free trade without environmental and labour laws that match ours… to create a level playing field for all. Until then we will have cheap products from all around the planet with much more pollution and environmental destruction.

These magnets are all around us but she’s picked on windmills. Shows the quality of the newspaper with its “Sunshine Girls” ( )

Reminds me of the guy who claims he avoids lotteries because, when he wins, he has to pay almost half the winnings in taxes.](

From all reports I see there is a lot of proof that many birds are killed by windmills .

Financial Post FP Comment
FP Comment

Windmills kill more birds

Special to the Financial Post](** ** June 30, 2010 – 2:38 pm
A double standard applies to the ‘Cuisinarts of the Air’
By Diane Katz
Environmental groups are gloating over the conviction last week of Syncrude Canada Ltd., which now faces fines totalling $800,000 for failing to prevent the deaths of 1,606 ducks that alighted on a company tailings pond two years ago.
Yet the fact a great many more birds and bats are mangled by wind turbine blades each year draws scant attention, much less prosecution. This double standard highlights the widespread misperception that so-called “renewable” energy sources do not demand environmental trade-offs.
That they do was made plain with the recent release of a bird and bat monitoring report from Canada’s second-largest wind farm, the Wolfe Island EcoPower® Centre. In the first eight months of operation, the centre reported 1,962 bird and bat deaths involving 33 bird species and five bat species. Such numbers earned wind power generators the moniker “Cuisinarts of the Air,” but not indictments.
These findings were largely ignored by the same media outlets that for months featured front-page headlines about dead ducks. But the wind power industry enjoys a degree of political favour that would make most other energy executives green with envy. The province of Ontario, for example, actually requires utilities to purchase wind power at inflated rates, while British Columbia mandates an annual quota of electricity from “renewable” sources.
The sprawling $475-million Wolfe Island facility in Frontenac Township off the shores of Kingston, Ont., features 86 wind turbine generators capable of producing 197.8 MW at full capacity — which never occurs because wind is intermittent. The first of two monitoring reports to date, released in February, documented 45 bird fatalities and 45 bat fatalities during May 2009 and June 2009.
The second report, covering the six months between July 2009 and December 2009, documented 602 bird fatalities and 1,270 bat fatalities. The number of raptor and vulture fatalities — 13 in the six-month period — were “among the highest” of any wind farm in the province, according to an official with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Colliding with blades is hardly the only risk wind power poses to birds and bats. Researchers have also found that the construction of wind farms and associated infrastructure (e.g., buildings, roads and electrical transmission lines) renders wide swaths of habitat less suitable for birds.
Wind farms also require large plots of open land — an estimated 2.5 acres per turbine, on average. As a result, a variety of wildlife also is affected.
This is not to say that wind turbine generators should be eliminated.
Indeed, proponents such as the Canadian Wind Energy Association stress that far more birds — tens of millions annually — are felled by cats, cars, and collisions with skyscrapers. But if that is a sufficient defence, should not the wind farm lobby have flocked to defend Syncrude Canada Ltd. against prosecution for far fewer deaths than routinely occur at wind farms across the country?
There is no shortage of human ingenuity to solve the myriad challenges posed by wind power and other energy sources. But policymakers and the public should not take political rhetoric at face value and assume an inherent superiority of non-fossil-fuel energy sources.
Financial Post
Diane Katz is director of risk, environment and energy policy at the Fraser Institute.

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I’m all for a level playing field as Brian suggests but can you imagine the cost of windmills if ALL western environmental regulation were followed in China?

Wind energy is already extremely expensive when compared to more conventional means of production and yet the greens imagine that it can compete in the real world. :roll:

With the Middle East governments in various states of transition and probably not quickly becoming peaceful democracies, alternate sources of energy may not be a bad thing!

Do the math.

The US can be energy independent anytime it chooses to be.

At the very least it does not have to be dependent on Mideast oil.


Have a look at some of these numbers found in a post:

A survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 2.3 million American bird hunters in 2007. Assuming the same ratio to population, Canada would have another 200,000, making the combined total 2.5 million. Together, these hunters annually bag more than 100 million waterfowl migrating back and forth across our shared border. Unfortunately, not all hunters are expert marksman, not by a long shot. A report from the U.S. Humane Society estimates that for every bird taken, another is mortally wounded. Quoting the report’s author, "millions of ducks and geese are shot and injured, and suffer terribly before they die."Recently, in a courtroom near Edmonton, tables are stacked high with dozens of binders; all containing “prosecution’s evidence” in the trial of Syncrude for the accidental death of precisely 1,606 ducks. Two months have been set aside for the trial but prosecutors say it could take much longer to present all of that material - an incredible revelation when one considers that Syncrude has readily admitted that what the Crown alleges happened, actually happened.What the company disputes is the Crown’s assertion that the failure to have the usual duck-deterring noise makers operating was a criminal act. Witnesses will be called to relate in agonizing detail the death struggles of those 1,606 ducks. But there will be no witnesses to relate the story of the millions ofshotgun-wounded waterfowl left behind in the reeds to suffer in silence. The fossil fuel energy industry has long been a favourite whipping boy, but what about bird deaths in the wind energy industry? Recent data cited by the Golden Gate Audubon Society show that wind farms in California’s Altamont Pass kill more than 7,000 birds a year, including 94 golden eagles and more than 1, 600 falcons, hawks and owls. Wind power advocates are quick to point out that Altamont is a worst case because of its high-speed turbine blades, and it’s true that newer technology is much more bird-friendly. Yet, the toll remains high and the species killed important. Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that wind power turbine blades kill at least 75,000 birds a year. And a 2007 report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences pointed out that peregrine falcons and other raptors that “are lower in abundance than many other bird species” are attracted to the same windy areas favoured for power turbines. Regardless of the exact figure, no one can deny that the North American wind power bird toll is significant and that eagles, falcons, hawks and owls are the more vulnerable, not the hugely plentiful game birds.Then there’s the deadliest bird killer of all: urban office and condo tower windows. Sitting on a major flight path, Toronto is Canada’s ground zero for migratory bird collision deaths. The non-profit group Fatal Light Awareness Program estimates that more than one million birds die in the city each year. The Toronto Humane Society points out that most are important insect-eating species such as warblers, flycatchers, wrens, kinglets, thrushes and vireos that migrate at night guided by star constellations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the North American toll from collision with man-made structures to be as many as one billion birds annually.The second most-lethal perpetrators of bird deaths lurk in North America’s backyards. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that domestic and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of songbirds each year. The most vulnerable are fledglings attacked soon after taking the plunge from the nest on untested wings. And, unlike those prolific ducks, the species taken most often are considered to be either “endangered, threatened or of conservation concern.” Bird experts point out that these lovely little fliers aren’t simply aesthetically important: Small birds are the ultimate organic insecticide, eating enormous numbers of harmful insects. They are also vital as pollinators of many agricultural and ornamental plant species. Given the economic importance of the commercial and home-gardening supply industry, many jobs depend on songbird survival.I want to make my position clear. I’m not opposed to game bird hunting. But I would support marksmanship testing as a condition of getting a hunting licence. I’m not against wind power. But Ibelieve this and other so-called “green” industries shouldn’t get a free ride on the considerable environmental impacts they do have. I’m not opposed to tall buildings. But I believe that lights should be turned off at night and window materials that minimize bird deaths should be required. And I don’t dislike cats, but I think they should be kept indoors during nesting season.As for the industry that produces a substance fundamentally important to our way of life, I believe oil producers should also be held accountable. But how, in the name of fairness and perspective, can the accidental death of 1,606 game birds, fewer in number than those wounded and left to die every few minutes of hunting season, be the subject of a costly trial that damages the carefully built reputation of a great Canadian energy company; and an entire industry

And not only birdies.

Spin baby spin . Canada’s answer to drill baby drill

YAY! Without birds and bats, we get to be overrun and eaten alive by insects! SUPER!
I didn’t read all of the articles linked above, but did any of them mention that the energy from the windmills has to be stored in batteries unless it is being used. That’s how it is small scale anyway, I have to confess that I’m ignorant of how a giant system deals with energy surplus.
Have you ever seen a zinc mine? Or lead, silver, gold, platinum etc?
The raw materials gathered to make batteries, contactors, relays, and terminals have to come from somewhere too. Not just for windmills but for solar-power systems and electric or hybrid cars too.
Not to mention all the diesel fuel they use to haul the raw materials from Canada, Peru and Australia to manufacture the components in China, then put them on a cargo boat and ship them over here.
The whole thing is a freakin mess.

Every time the propeller turns it costs us money. And guess what? When the wind stops we still rely on coal, oil and nukes. And the real dirty little secret is that these plants have to be running all the time, even when the wind blows because they cannot be stopped and started like a care engine. They have to be kept at operating temperature ALL the time.

Green energy is bankrupting us.

Every mining operation in the world makes a mess and then walks away.

Not so fast Vern.