Big Year Birding – Human Impacts on Nature


“No form of …. human activity ….. is completely free of impacts.”

I read with interest this morning that a “first of its kind” decision had been reached in the prosecution of an energy company that plead guilty to killing eagles and other birds at two of its wind farms.

In the aftermath of this settlement, a statement released by the American Wind Energy Association declared ” No form of energy generation, or human activity for that matter, is completely free of impacts, and wind energy is no exception.”

Like many people who read this article, my first reaction to the settlement was a heady mixture of political views and personal sentiments.   And, unfortunately for some, that’s where the analysis of this situation stops.  The “MSNBC or FOX 30-second sound bite” approach to a complicated and important issue.

So after reading the article and extracting my moment of “righteous indignation”, I stopped.   Something about that statement resonated with me – No form of “human activity” is competely free of impacts.  How does the saying go – “you can have your own opinions but you can’t have your own facts”.

The source of this statement may be uncomfortable for some, but that does not make it any less true.  As a country, we consume enormous amounts of energy and resources and all that consumption has an equally enormous impact on nature.  All of us want beautiful vistas, scenic drives, and bountiful natural settings.  And all of us what some combination of cars, air conditioned homes, and late-night TV.

Human activities are causing our planet to warm and, collectively, our species seems unwilling or unable to do much about it.  Once again, political views and personal sentiments have created a chasm between the opposing sides of this argument that will most likely prevent any meaningful changes in our behaviors.

Against this backdrop, does it make sense to drag a company through the legal system when their activities (regardless of profit motive) are intended to have a reduced impact on our environment?   Should we put up barriers and roadblocks to future companies who may develop similar products?  Or should we try to find ways to work with those companies and individuals who are trying to reduce their environmental footprint?

These are important questions and in our current “no compromise” political climate (both sides get credit for this situation – remember, can’t have your own facts), I’m unsure if “we” as a nation came reach common sense answers.

I am equally unsure what “we” as individuals can do the help promote change, but I will be spending more time thinking about that topic today.

Until next time – Good (and thoughtful) Birding,




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