Climate Skeptics & Killer Wind Turbines

By Keith Kloor | January 4, 2013 1:58 pm

To paraphrase a famous observation, cognitive bias in certain precincts of the blogosphere is one of those things you recognize when you see it.

So for the hell of it, let’s go to this randomly chosen example at Bishop Hill, the blog of climate skeptic Andrew Montford, who can reliably be counted on to share any news that reflects badly on wind turbines. Oh look, here’s something just out that’s noteworthy, he says:

Clive Hambler, a lecturer at Oxford University and the author of an important textbook on conservation, has written an important article at the Spectator on the effects on windfarms on wildlife. It looks as if the “bird-blender” name is well-deserved.

Indeed! I bet Montford put his super-skeptical powers to good use with that piece. Oh, wait…

Now, I’m not going to pass judgement on the legitimacy of the claims made in the article Montford highlights at his blog. I know that wind turbines kill birds and bats, just like I know that coal and oil pollute our lungs and heat up the planet. The issue, it seems, is in what context are we viewing these harms?

While I’m at it, let me point out another odd thing about self-proclaimed skeptics who swear by the holy bible of evidence-based science when it comes to all matters related to climate change, but who uncritically embrace loopy theories related to wind turbines. Okay, I just did.

Anyway, if you’re interested in the wind turbine/birds issue, here’s a good Nature piece that came out last year. And if you’re interested in a healthy pawing of the killer wind turbine article that Montford has glommed on to, here’s a good post by Robert Wilson.

Is it too much to ask climate skeptics to actually be skeptical about stories that reinforce their own biases?

File:Eoliennes Gaspesie.jpg

[Photo of wind turbine in Quebec, Canada/Wikipedia Commons]
  • friv


  • gazo

    I am just pleased that I understood every word of it! Loved the bit about distortion of a perceived situation…..that’s a trick our memory plays on us sometimes! :-)
    gazo | friv 2 | Z6

  • friv4k

    Hope the commitments in the Paris conference cop21 would soon be implemented

  • Alec Sevins

    The biggest, most obvious, most arrogantly-ignored problem with wind turbines is their blatant, negative effect on landscapes. I’m tired of hearing duped environmentalists calling them “beautiful” and claiming that the opposition can’t simply be against them for aesthetic reasons. They always push some “pro coal” conspiracy and refuse to talk about these gigantic machines taking over landscapes.


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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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