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When green energy and nature collide

Ivanpah Solar Electric Plant
Ivanpah Solar Electric Plant
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The quest for a cleaner environment has taken on new levels. However, is it at the expense of birds and other wildlife? While environmentalists search for alternative sources of energy, birds and other important species of animals are dying at alarming rates.

Streamers: Birds Caught in a Death Ray
Workers at a solar plant in California have a name for wildlife that fly through the facility's solar rays -- Streamers. It's a word given to birds for the plume of smoke that emanate from them as they light up the sky. Federal wildlife officials visited the energy plant and witnessed the horrible display, with approximately one streamer falling from the sky every two minutes. They are also asking officials in California to put a hold on the construction of an even bigger facility being built. Up to 28,000 small and large bird deaths can be attributed to the solar power plants, and until the deaths of the birds can be investigated further, experts feel more research is needed in order to move forward with any future projects.

Wildlife is Crashing into Wind Turbines
Climate change and pollution have been a longstanding problem for wildlife. Unfortunately, the “green” alternatives to saving the planet can be just as problematic for birds, butterflies and bats that fly in the vicinity of the wind turbines. Collisions can often occur when they crash into the turbines and blades of the towers. Since the towers are typically placed along the paths of the bird’s migration charts, they naturally fly into them. Once they do, their injuries can prove severe to fatal. They can also get tangled in the structures or wiring. A bird’s habitat can also suffer when the wind structure takes up space that would otherwise be needed to house their home and nests.

While the buildings are a positive step toward saving the planet, a concerted effort needs to be made to protect the bird population. The wind farms can do their part by choosing to make their facilities safe for birds and other wildlife and making them more efficient. Because fewer turbines will be used, they can also reduce the amount of energy they use throughout the day. Before production begins on any new wind project, national legislators and environmentalists should be involved to ensure that the migration paths are safe and out of harm’s way.

In Search of the Eco-Friendly Solution
From wind turbines to solar energy, environmentalists are in search of methods to provide cleaner air to the environment. While their impact can be felt with the air you breathe and water you drink, the hazards that it holds are unacceptable to wildlife. Some solar plants have even been criticized for encroaching on areas that were once inhabited by tortoises. While the plants are expected to supply a vast amount of renewable energy, the harm that it’s doing to the tortoise can send them into extinction. Wildlife defenders threatened to sue the government based on the Endangered Species Act; while they support renewable energy, they don’t want it at the expense of innocent wildlife.

However, simply lowering the height of wind towers and enforcing stricter enforcement under the Migratory Bird Act can aid in keeping tortoises, birds, bats and other wildlife safe and protected. People should also make a concerted effort to get involved by writing their local government officials and taking a proactive role in their protection.

Solar power plants and wind farms can coexist with Mother Nature. However, it’s going to need some careful thought, consideration and strict enforcement by the Wildlife Protection Agencies. It will also prove beneficial to look into how the facilities can injure and kill, so they can do research and implement a plan for a safer location and better construction.