Most of the world's energy currently comes from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. There are an estimated 1354 billion barrels of oil left in earth, and 80 million barrels of oil are consumed per day¹. According to these statistics, if our society keeps consuming oil at this rate, earth's oil will only last 16,925 more days, or 46.5 years (as of Jan. 1 2010)¹. To combat this growing issue, many alternative sources of energy have been developed. Popular alternative energy sources include geothermal power, tidal power, hydroelectric power, solar power, nuclear power and wind power. A highly controversial source of environmentally-friendly energy is wind power. Wind power is often criticized because turbines are often assumed to be noisy, unsightly, expensive, a waste of space and a hazard for birds, but many of these beliefs are either untrue or have no evidence to support them. This paper will outline common arguments against wind power, prove them to be false, and show why wind power should be implemented as a major energy source worldwide.
Wind power is one of the oldest sources of energy that humans have learned to capture. Sailboats were the first way that wind energy was harnessed and used. The invention of the sail used wind as a way to propel boats, which was a significant advance in technology. This allowed trade between countries separated by seas or oceans, and allowed resources and people to be moved. In around 500-900 AD in Persia, windmills were invented and implemented to pump water. This was also highly significant and allowed people living further from shore easier access to water. Soon after, windmills were beginning to be used also to grind grain. In 1888 in America, windmills were used to generate electricity for the first time. Charles Brush built a large windmill in Ohio to generate electricity, but it could only gather about a tenth of the energy a comparably sized turbine could gather today. Many of these ideas and developments laid a strong foundation and had a significant effect on how modern turbines are designed and built.
Constant noise is a common argument used to oppose wind farms. Many people believe that the sound emitted by wind turbines is disruptive to people who live near wind farms, and that the noise can cause migraines, anxiety and nausea². However, no negative effects of wind turbine noise on neighbors have ever been proved. It has been suggested that “wind turbine syndrome” is a communicable disease, spreading via the nocebo effect.³ This means that the neighbors of wind farms’ supposed medical issues are really caused by the fear of such medical issues. When people find out that a wind farm is being built near their home, it’s common to blame all medical problems on the new variable with no justification. Cancer, weight loss, weight gain and learning difficulties, among other problems, have been blamed on wind turbines with no supporting evidence.
Another common argument used is the fact that wind turbines kill birds and bats. It’s easy to imagine that a bird or bat could easily be hit trying to fly through a wind turbine. However, this doesn’t happen as often as could be expected. It’s estimated that for every bird that dies from a collision with a wind turbine, 5,820 birds are killed from a collision with a building.⁷ It’s also estimated that wind power kills 10 times fewer birds than fossil fuel power plants, because wind farms only kill 0.3-0.4 birds per GWh of electricity they generate, while oil, gas and coal power plants kill 5.4 birds per GWh generated due to the pollution produced in converting these materials into power.⁷ Oil waste pits and spills also kill more birds annually than wind turbines. Furthermore, the majority of avian deaths on wind farms are not caused by the actual turbines spinning; most bird collisions are with power lines that bring the power from the farm to somewhere it can be used. The power lines used by wind power are just...
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