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IPCC says adapt and mitigate to tackle climate risks

Posted on 9 April 2014 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Roz Pidcock at Carbon Brief

The front page article of today's Spectator claims the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has "updated" its position on climate change, to accept that "climate change is now a question of adaptation".

Author Matt Ridley suggests that this is such a departure from the UN climate panel's previous findings that its conclusions are now in line with those of climate skeptic lobbyist Lord Lawson.

Lawson stresses "the need to adapt to climate change, rather than throw public money at futile attempts to prevent it", according to Ridley, a fellow skeptic campaigner.

It's worth taking this with a pinch of salt. If the IPCC has said more about adaptation in the last week, it's because its most recent report is specifically about adaptation. That doesn't mean mitigation has been abandoned as Lord Lawson would like it to be - indeed, in a week's time the IPCC will publish another report dedicated to the mitigation he so scorns.

Heavy on adaptation

The crux of Ridley's argument is that adapting to climate change is given more prominence in the latest IPCC report than in past ones.

He says:

"[T]he document itself … emphasised, again and again, the need to adapt to climate change … Whereas the last report had two pages on adaptation, this one has four chapters."

In fact, there are six chapters which specifically mention adaptation in their titles in the new report, not four. The previous report in 2007 had two chapters, not two pages.

But Ridley is right to point out that there is a lot more research into adapting to climate change now than there was seven years ago, when the IPCC last published an assessment report. As the new report's Summary for Policymakers ( SPM) says:

"The number of scientific publications available … more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, with especially rapid increases in publications related to adaptation."

But if the newest IPCC report is heavy on adaptation, there's a more basic reason: It's a report about adaptation. The title of the report is "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability".

In a week's time, the IPCC will publish a complimentary report: "Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of climate change". That one will no doubt mention mitigation more than adaptation.

Word count

In linking the IPCC to Lawson's views, Ridley implies that the IPCC's engagement with adaptation comes at the expense of mitigation - an observation he suggests marks a step change in IPCC "wisdom".

To support his argument, Ridley counts the number of times both words are mentioned in the press release for the new report, concluding:

"[T]he word 'adaptation' occurred ten times, the word 'mitigation' not at all."

Again, this is perhaps not surprising for a report about adaptation, not mitigation.

An alternative word count suggests the IPCC's emphasis hasn't changed much in the seven years since its last report. In the summary for the latest report, the word "adaptation" appears 114 times, compared to 24 for "mitigation" - around 4.5 times more mentions.

In the summary for the 2007 report, both words get a lot fewer mentions - 34 for "adaptation" and six for "mitigation". Relatively speaking, that's about 5.5 times more mentions of "adaptation" than "mitigation". Not much has changed, by this measure at least.

These word counts might be fun, but they don't tell us very much about the IPCC's conclusions. So what does the new report actually say?

The IPCC discusses mitigation and adaptation alongside each other

A quick read of the new SPM reveals a host of places where the IPCC says mitigation is needed alongside adaptation to limit the impacts of climate change. For example:

"[The new report] considers how impacts and risks related to climate change can be reduced and managed through adaptation and mitigation."


"Managing the risks of climate change involves adaptation and mitigation decisions with  implications for future generations, economies, and environments."


"Climate-resilient pathways are sustainable-development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to reduce climate change and its impacts."

All of which are just different ways of saying that both adaptation and mitigation will be needed to manage the risks of climate change.

This is a very similar conclusion to the IPCC's 2007 report, which concluded: "A portfolio of adaptation and mitigation measures can diminish the risks associated with climate change."

Limits to adaptation

The IPCC warns cutting emissions is important because adaptation won't be enough on its own.  Professor Chris Field, co-chair on the new report, says it's unrealistic to think we can adapt indefinitely:

"With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits."

Managing the risks from climate change means working to bring emissions down, and in the meantime, adaptation can help prepare for the impacts we can no longer avoid. As Professor Vincente Barros, co-chair of the new report, explains:

"Part of the reason adaptation is so important is that the world faces a host of risks from climate change already baked into the climate system, due to past emissions and existing infrastructure."

On top of reducing the immediate risks from climate change, adaptation can help build a more efficient, sustainable and resilient society, the SPM explains:

"Available strategies and actions can increase resilience across a range of possible future climates while helping to improve human health, livelihoods, social and economic well-being, and environmental quality."

Too alarmist, or toning down the alarm?

You might almost be tempted to feel sorry for the IPCC, which apparently can't win.

Earlier this week, Professor Richard Tol criticised the new SPM for being "alarmist" - because "adaptation and clever development" has "completely disappeared". On the other hand, Matt Ridley praises the new report because it "[emphasises], again and again, the need to adapt to climate change" and has "toned down the alarm considerably."

Ridley, Tol and Nigel Lawson are all associated with the climate skeptic thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

It's interesting that Ridley is trying to find common ground between the IPCC and Lord Lawson. But the IPCC is quite clear that managing climate risks means preventing the climate change we can prevent, and adapting to the climate change we can't. Lord Lawson's view, on the other hand, is that mitigation is a "futile" waste of public money.

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Comments 1 to 40:

  1. Adaptation will take place whatever happens for that is the very nature of human survival and has been so since we first appeared on the planet. Mitigation is the only sensible avenue that can be taken and the IPCC should remain steadfast in stressing just how dangerous it is to think otherwise.

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  2. So the skeptics think we need to adapt to something that they claim isn't happening?

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  3. Our evolutionary specialization is adapting the environment, not adapting to the environment. When considering the ability to modify the global environment, doesn't the question become: what kind of global environment is the most conducive for survival — especially for those organisms which need to literally adapt to the environment?

    I worked in the construction completion and startup of the sodium cooled Fast Flux Test Facility in WA State, in the late 1970s. This stainless steel reactor was a jewel in the desert, and was to be the forerunner to the Clinch River breeder reactor - which was cancelled due to political hysteria. Since then, I've worked at about a dozen DOE and commercial nuclear facilities.

    If people are really serious about greatly reducing greenhouse gasses in the environment, a healthy breeder reactor program is the only truly practical means of seriously reducing GH emissions. In fact, a breeder reactor is virtually a renewable energy source, and has the added benefit of converting nuclear warheads into clean energy (a sizable portion of present light water reactors is doing just that). This would represent a stop-gap measure until practical fusion reactors would provide that ultimate energy source.

    I think the nuclear energy industry went off on the wrong track by investing in huge light water reactors. Liquid metal or HTG is a more rational approach to reactor design. You could pull the plug on the FFTF while at full power — it would have simply shut down, with convection cooling.

    We need not adapt the concept of adapting to. We are the earth's supreme tool makers — it shouldn't be necessary to adapt to an unhealthy mode of existence.

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  4. LCBozo...  I'm not sure I get how all the nuclear proponents always assume their solution is the only truly viable solution to the problem.

    What I think you'll find is, most people who are concerned about AGW will say, we need all technologies being applied to the problem. 

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  5. The real problem is that people claiming it is "best" if "we" just adapt, are people hoping to prolong their enjoyment of the undeserved benefits of creating the rapidly changing climate. And they are pretty certain they will not be the ones facing the consequences.

    The warmer the callous disregard for the future consequneces force things to become, the more rapid and signficant and unpredictable the climate will change. And the local changes to be adapted to will become very difficult to predict in a manner that can successfully be adapted to.

    Development of a sustainable better future for all life on this amazing planet is the only viable future for humanity. Rapid significant climate change, combined with all the other damaging consequences of the current massive unsustainable human consumption madness, make the future of humanity "less certain".

    The current socioeconomic systems with their adoration of popular image creations and profitability clearly are not guaranteed to develop a better future. It seems quite certain that they never willingly lead to the collective effort of the entire population toward the develoment of anything but a series of failed unsustainable pursuits that only benefit a few in their moment.

    And proponents of the "adaptation is better" approach know these are the most certain facts of the matter, and they obviously don't care, for the obvious reasons.

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  6. Chris Snow @ #2  I don't think sceptics dismiss climate change as not happening I think it more that they remain unconvinced that human activity is the sole and root cause.

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  7. Poster @ #6 You are correct, only fools believe could that sceptics claim climate change isn't happening.

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  8. Post #7 should read, only fools could believe.

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  9. In my experience most 'skeptics' hold multiple beliefs: 'Global Warming isn't happening, but if it were happening it wouldn't be serious, and if it were serious it wouldn't be due to human activity'.

    The 'Global Warming isn't happening' and 'Global Warming will not be serious' crowds have been in decline, but claiming that they don't exist is just nonsense. What's funny is that the science establishing human causation is even stronger than that showing that significant GW is happening. They've retreated to the least viable argument.

    On adaptation, the problem is that AGW is now causing enough damage that adaptation is clearly needed... but the more effort we devote to adaptation the less severe the immediate consequences will be and thus the more likely we are to hold off mitigation and thereby produce eventual long term consequences that we won't be able to adapt to by any means short of massive population reduction.

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  10. One big part of "adaptation" is going to have to be a willingness to accept refugees from island nations that have lost their fresh groundwater.  Tuvalu comes to mind as one of the first, but I suspect we'll be seeing similar problems in a lot of other places before long, the Bahamas, much of Polynesia, etc.  This is a tough problem-- as these people would no doubt like to keep their national identity.

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  11. Poster:

    "I don't think sceptics dismiss climate change as not happening I think it more that they remain unconvinced that human activity is the sole and root cause."

    But apparently they (and you) do believe in this strawman mischaracterization of climate science, which does not clam, and never has claimed, that human activity is the sole and root cause of climate change.  Denialists didn't discover Milankovich cycles, after all.  Nor solar cycles.  Solar dimming?  The geological processes which which modulate CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere?  Plate tectonics, which move the continents around causing very large climatic side-effects?  Any of those discovered by denialists?  Nope.  All discovered (along with many, many things I'm not mentioning) by mainstream science, and their relationship with the earth's climate discovered by scientists as well.

    What have denialists contributed?  A lot of blog posts, for the most part.


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  12. Here is another way to make the point I presented in my earlier comment.

    Humanity needs to be looking towards the hundreds of millions of years that this planet whould be the amazing home to life that it currently is. Consuming non-renewable resources of this planet is fundamentally unsustainable (absolutely complete recycling of such materials forever would be acceptable). And activity that damages the diversity and profusion of life is also clearly unacceptable.

    Justification of the increased damage of current unsustainable and damaging activities and the increased risk of creating more rapid and more difficult adaptation challenges can only be by the creation today of absolutely certain benefits in the future that more than offset those future consequences.

    An economic evaluation that pretends there will be economic growth into the future is not a valid justification. There would have to be absolute certainty of the benefit that will exist into the potentially more difficult future.

    So the challenge to anyone claiming adaptation is the answer would be: The objective must be to provide a sustainable better future for all life on this amazing planet. Provide proof of the things being done right now with the benefit obtained by these unsustainable and damaging activities that will have real substantial value for future generations facing the resulting consequences. The evaluation must include significant costs for reduced access to non-renewable resources and reduced diversity and profusion of other life. And if there is any uncertainty about the evaluations the future costs must be magnified, and the evaluated future benefit must be reduced absolutely certain (no net-present-value calculation that pretends a future cost has less inherent value than a current day cost).

    By that method of evaluation the past 40 to 50 years of global development have been worse than worthless, though they are perceived to be popular and profitable because the ones measuring success have not had to properly consider the future. They haven’t even had to properly consider the current immediate impacts of what they want to benefit from doing. The success of that attitude to gain popularity and be supported by the methods of evaluating the creation of value (the profitability measurement method), is what needs to change, or it is certain that the future for humanity will continue to be worse, because current day activities are worse than worthless in the future.

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  13. Human adaptation will be necessary in the short and medium time-frames. Mitigation is essential for the long-term. What can adapt or be adapted? I see no evidence that plants and animals as they now exist naturally stand much of a chance in adpating to a drastically altered global climate. Basically, they are toast without mitigation.

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  14. Dhogaza @10 There is nothing in my comment that indicates anything about my personal beliefs on global warming/climate change and to suggest there is is both michievous and unsubstantiated. With regard to your claim that "deniers" did not discover solar cycles or Milankovich cycles or plate techtonics etc is pure supposition.. When most of the things to which you refer were identified/described, the current divisions on climate change did not exist. How can you be certain that, for example, Milankovich or Schwabe, might not have been "deniers" today?

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  15. @Poster


    Because they were scientists.

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  16. The problem with adaptation is that it is a reactive rather than proactive response. Given the broard range of uncertainty in climate models, at the regional scale, it is very difficult to design adaptaion measures which are appropriate. It's all well and good saying "we can adapt" but if we don't know what we are adapting to then we run the risk of making things worse or wasting resources. Saying we can adapt also gives people the excuse to put off mitigation for a few more years without considering the risks involved. Also the cost of long term adaptation measures never really seems to be taken into account. How much will it cost to protect all the worlds coastal cities from 0.5-1m of sea level rise?

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  17. Dhogaza has stated my comment @ 6 above that sceptics are unconvinced that humans are the sole and root cause of climate change  is a strawman mischaracterisation of climate science.   I refer Dhogaza to an article published in the Guardian in July 2012 (  There are many commnets in this article commenting on the role of humans in climate change.

     Comments such as "The Earth's land has warmed by 1.5C over the past 250 years and "humans are almost entirely the cause".  

    "Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases," 

    There are other similar comments that don't gel too well with "strawman mischaracterisation of climate science".  

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  18. Rob H: We all propose the solution from what we know best, and our oun kids are alwyas the cutest too. That's human nature. LZBozo is right, and I don't think so LZ. Breeder technology is the necessary alternative to quadruple energy availablity for a growing world economy. In my consideration, growth, is increasing wealth, and can equal a more verdant world. It all depends on benign, verdant, energy.

    Breeder technology does have the problem of plutonium proliferation, which in turn requires greater government vigilance, so that is a mixed bag. The only energy concept, besides nuclear-breeder, which is on scale of need, and which is nearly 100% benign is Pluvinergy. If it works is another question. It is many, many, orders of magnitude easier to develop than fusion. Fusion is pie in the sky; it allways has been, and alway will be avilable, 15 years in the future.

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  19. Poster:

    "Dhogaza has stated my comment @ 6 above that sceptics are unconvinced that humans are the sole and root cause of climate change is a strawman mischaracterisation of climate science."

    Climate science entails much more than the study of the last 250 years of the 4.5 billion years of the earth's history.  I stand by my statement.


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  20. @dhogaza: Since it appears that Poster is now arguing with him/heself, we might as well let him/her stew in hs/her own juices.

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  21. One Planet OF: Granting that sustainablity is abolutely critical, there is room to appreciate the marvel of humanitie's achievements. That achievement is the purpose of life, and so the justification for all the marvels of the Universe. Not to be narsisitic, but this column and this conversation are as marvelous and worthwhile of the planet as the species we endanger.

    That is to say, give civilization a break, and let us work this thing out. We have talked about how Pluvinergy, wether it works or not is not the question, is one concept which can make the planet verdant, and continue the ascent of civilization. If so, the question of mitigation and coping entail the conviction that we can do both. Therefore, civilization is not worthless; it is the universe's proudes achievement, as backards as we might, or might not be, in this ascention.

    As far as profitability; it is as lovely as scinece, to those who espose it, and it is equally productive. The IPCC report is moving in the right direction, that it makes anti-climate change people happy is good too; we can start talking from common ground.

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  22. Rob Honeycutt: I certainly don't mean to imply that nuclear power is the only way to go. And, though I have a few problems with the overt alarmist nature of the climate change lobby, I'm more concerned about eliminating carbon based energy production, period, via free market venture capitalism (though I wonder where that is anymore).

    Presently, nuclear power — third/fourth generation nuclear energy plant designs, are about the only way to quickly provide for massive 24/7 clean energy production.

    If you count the total radioactive releases from all the nuclear plant accidents, it doesn't even come close to that continuously released from dirt burner chimneys.

    I worked as a startup engineer, and maintenance programs planner (instrumentation) at PVNGS (Palo Verde Nuclear Generation Station)... I have some perspective. For one, we worked (I retired in 2012) for the plant, not any persons. Which is to say, we worked for the laws of physics, which underlie every aspect of nuclear power generation.

    PVNGS has virtually a small private army protecting the plant. Guards walk around in full body armor, and carry handguns, as well as fully automatic weapons. About a fourth of the guys I worked with had, as a hobby, continuing formal tactical firearms training — handgun, rifle, shotgun. I dare say, any bad-guy morons trying to penetrate PVNGS would not make it through the security gate. If they did, they would quickly become, well, discorporate. Our first priority was public safety and nuclear safety. Second is worker (industrial) safety, after that was productivity.

    In energy production one pound of nuclear fuel equals about 6,000 barrels of oil! Personally, I think burning carbon based fuels is primitive! I think the concept of small modular reactors which run a 5 year refuel cycle, vs. the 18 month refuel cycle of PW reactors (bubblers go about 2 years between refueling) is the way to go.

    After utilities have invested ~$30 billion into a government sponsored waste disposal (which I call, future fuel) site — with nothing to show, APS built its own dry-cask storage facility. If the morons in D.C. had any technical knowledge, they would understand that waste is really future fuel, and dry-cask storage is the most effective way to provide for future nuclear fuel — if we went the breeder route.

    Arizona's large Agua Caliente Solar Project generates electricity at a wholesale cost of about 22 cents per kilowatt hour whereas the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is about 3 cents per kilowatt hour. Solar cells degrade at the rate of about 1 percent per year (though improving). Solar is great for rooftops, but covering the Sonoran Desert with hundreds of square miles of solar panels to eventually replace dirt burners and natural gas generators will not happen. Also, the subsidizing of these green energy sources is unsustainable, and an economic tipping point will occur long before they could replace conventional energy production. The only real long-term resolution for large scale energy production is fusion power. Geothermal is another viable technology that has minimal environmental impact.

    The worst property of nuclear power plants is cost, but the investment is very long term, as major components can be replaced (PVNGS has new steam generators and heads — even got a bit more power efficiency). PVNGS generates massive scale electricity, and may well be operational for more than 100 years. It produces about 3 x 1,400 megawatts, with ~ 95% availability. If utilities would embrace liquid metal, and HTG nuclear plants, I bet the cost would drop per megawatt hour production, as the primary high pressure steam (NSSS) systems are responsible for much of the construction and maintenance costs. Breeders, with onsite fuel reprocessing would make so much sense!

    Large-scale wind generators kill an estimated 1.4 million birds and bats every year. This will only increase as wind generation increases — not exactly a "green" side effect! Then we have both the solar and gas back-up generators which often supply quite a good percent of these "clean" energy sources electrical output.

    It really boils down to: is there really a probability that AGW will push the earth environment to catastrophic levels, or is this just some weird political/science project? I personally would love to see more technical rigor in school curriculum, with emphasis on "we can do anything," rather than all the wrist wringing, "...but it isn't a perfect solution..." so do nothing attitude.

    I helped send men to the moon, was in on the original HMG (carbon/graphite fiber) research, and helped startup half a dozen nuclear plants. I find it hard to accept this once great nation being so politically and technologically constipated. We can produce nuclear weapons when at war with other humans, but can't use available technology to bring about peace when presumably at war with our planet?

    Yeah, I like nuclear energy produced electricity. Nuclear plants are the safest place I've ever worked.

    One of nuclear powers biggest enemies has been the Oil and Coal industry! Try the movie, "Pandora's Promise."

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  23. "Large-scale wind generators kill an estimated 1.4 million birds and bats every year. This will only increase as wind generation increases — not exactly a "green" side effect!"

    In reality, cars kill 2,800 birds for every 1 killed by a wind turbine.

    And cars kill more pedestrians than windmills kill birds. Is it time to ban cars yet?

    The leading causes of Raptor deaths in the Altamont study:

    1. Shooting
    2. Poison
    3. Cars

    But climate deniers aren't interested in facts that disagree with their desired outcome.


    Per Erickson 2005:

    Table 2–Summary of predicted annual avian mortality.

    Buildings_______________ 550 million
    Power lines_____________ 130 million
    Cats___________________ 100 million
    Automobiles_____________ 80 million
    Pesticides_______________ 67 million
    Communications towers___ 4.5 million
    Wind turbines___________ 28.5 thousand
    Airplanes________________ 25 thousand


    Cat's out of the proverbial bag. Per Loss et al 2013, feral cats kill most of the 87,000 times as many birds (in the US alone) than do all of the wind turbines in the world do, combined. That's 3.7 BILLION bird deaths per year, by cats the US. Or about 10 MILLION per day, as compared to about 2 per day per wind turbine.

    Seems the bird holocaust is getting out of...paw. Meow.


    This study from the EPA of Sweden documents siting strategies successful in alleviating most wind turbine bird mortalities:


    To Debunk the Anti-Wind Myth of 14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines in California:


    And now dogs are being employed to assist in carcass searches:


    A good resource:


    Furthermore, the ongoing Exeter University Wind Turbine Bat Research Programme examined the Resilient Energy Great Dunkilns in order to understand the effects of wind turbines on bat populations.

    The researchers used trained dogs to check for any dead bats. No dead bats were found and this correlates with Exeter's research on similar sized wind turbines where bat mortality rates have also been found to be low to non-existent.


    Lastly, the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants has rejected claims that the frequencies created by wind turbines can have adverse health issues, saying the infrasound generated is often less than a person’s heart-beat.


    To sum: About 2 birds and 2 bats per day, per wind turbine.

    Versus everything else, which are many orders of magnitude deadlier.

    Let's move on to actual, substantive issues.

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  24. LCBozo@22,

    Arizona's large Agua Caliente Solar Project generates electricity at a wholesale cost of about 22 cents per kilowatt hour whereas the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is about 3 cents per kilowatt hour

    Can you provide the source of your claim? And what does your figure of 3 cents per kWh at Palo Verde include? Does it include (besides fuel and operation cost) amortisation of construction, spent fuel disposal and decommissioning cost?

    A simple check at Wikipedia reveals that your figure is unrealistic up to the point of defying logic. Most of the studies cited there estimate the nuke energy cost at $0.25-0.30 per kWh (i.e. ten times higher) and growing up in recent years. That cost growth may be dues to recent tightening of safety standards and stricter spent fuel management and decommissioning standards (virtually non-existent in nuke haydays). Ben Sovacool, the most known nuke economic expert, estimates here a new 1GWe nuke plant to cost 41.2 to 80.3 cents/kWh produced. That's very high cost. And the economics of such cost would explain why nuke industry is declining in recent decade. And with the costs proliferating and the shrinking suply of high quality U ore, it will continue to decline, regardless of your logic defying enthusiasm.

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  25. Daniel Bailey:

    Comparing raw numbers of birds killed is useless.  From a conservation perspective, the death of one starling is not equivalent to the death of one lesser prairie chicken.  I could just as easily say we shoudn't be worried about gun deaths in the US because cars kill more oppossums in the US than guns kill people.

    Concerns about windmills killing bird species of concern is legitimate.  Fortunately the wind power industry itself (after governmental prodding) is taking the issue more seriously than people like you.

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  26. dhogaza - Do you have comparative mortality factors specifically for the lesser prairie chicken? Or other bird species of interest?

    Given the four orders of magnitude higher bird kills by other factors, arguing that windmills pose an existential threat to specific species is going to take some solid data. It's good that the wind power industry is being prompted to mitigate windmill/bird kills, but the raw cross-species data doesn't inherently support the hypothesis of a significant threat. 

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  27. Dhogaza,

    Daniel provided links to a number of studies.  One I looked at studied raptor fatalities in the Altamont area, which I have previously heard about as a center of raptor deaths.  Daniel claims that a study showed that shooting, poison and cars killed more raptors than windmills.  Can you provide  data to support your claim that Daniels claim was incorrect?  It seems to me that Daniel cares about raptors and has provided data to support his claim that they are not significantly affected.  

    Wind generator operators are still looking into this issue because they are trying to have a green image.

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  28. KR:

    You could start by asking why the industry always states that a lot more birds are killed by other causes rather than detail mortality by species.

    Do you think they're stupid, or what?

    "Do you have comparative mortality factors specifically for the lesser prairie chicken?"

    lesser prairie chicken is already listed as a threatened species under the ESA.  By definition every dead prairie chicken is more important from a conservation point of view than the death of, say, a starling.

    "Given the four orders of magnitude higher bird kills by other factors"

    Wow, four orders of magnitude!

    There are only a bit more than 17,000 lesser prairie chickens in the wild.  There are 150 million starlings alone.  I will let you calculate how many orders of magnitude difference that represents. 

    Bailey includes tidbits such as:

    "Cat's out of the proverbial bag. Per Loss et al 2013, feral cats kill most of the 87,000 times as many birds (in the US alone) than do all of the wind turbines in the world do, combined."

    Again, no mention of species distribution, and again, this is intentional.

    There is also this from Bailey, which is downright offensive:

    "But climate deniers aren't interested in facts that disagree with their desired outcome."

    I am no climate denier.  The wildlife biologists I know are not climate deniers.  I am not anti-wind power, nor are the wildlife biologists I know and have worked with over time in conservation contexts. 

    On the other hand, one might claim that those that equate a single starling death with that of the death of a member of a highly threatened species like lesser prairie chicken is a conservation science denier.

    I'm used to this crap, being labelled "anti-environment", "climate science denier", etc simply because I point out that wind turbines are an important source of mortality for certain species at risk in certain portions of the country.  The industry and friends began labelling conservation biologists as being "anti-environmental" (think about that for a minute) over two decades ago.  The industry itself has reluctantly become more self-aware over time.  People like David Bailey not so much.

    "climate denier".  Harumph.  Stuff it.

    Regarding Altamont, Bailey is trumpeting the success of mitigation (much better siting, removal of the old derrick-style supports that provided perches for perch-hunting species like red-tails, etc etc).

    This is good news.  Wind power supporters like myself who also understand conservation issues regarding certain species of birds have been very happy that newer windmill designs, attention to siting, etc have improved the situation.

    We can have wind power and we can mitigate bird mortality if we pay attention to detail.  There's no need to be a conservation science denier, as Bailey is.

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  29. KR:

    And, yes, Real Scientists (assuming you can accept the possibility that a biologist can be a scientist) do study these things.  There's quite a bit of literature out there.  Here's just one example:

    That's just the abstract.  I have the print copy at home,.

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  30. Let me finish by pointing out that conservation scientists understand that most wind farm installations do not cause significant impacts on populations of birds at risk.

    The problem is when people like David Bailey extrapolate this to mean that no wind turbine installations can cause significant impacts on populations of birds at risk.  Further extrapolation leads to claims that we don't need to take threatened or other at-risk species into consideration when siting wind farms, nor do we need to monitor or study impacts.


    In reality, most siting studies tend to show that a given proposed wind farm doesn't pose a significant risk.  Most.  Not all.

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  31. dhogaza - I would note that your response to my comment is (a) to a large extent not responding to what I wrote, and (b) rather over the top in tone. "Do you think they're stupid, or what" and "Real Scientists (assuming you can accept the possibility that a biologist can be a scientist) do study these things" are rather insulting statements - I do not think they are justified from what I said

    What I said was that the raw numbers for cross-species bird kills shows a four order of magnitude difference between wind power and other factors, and that with only that information there is little indication of threat to specific species. That requires specific studies of those species, their habitat intersection with wind power, evaluation of whether their flight profiles are at an altitude threatened by wind power, and most importantly data about species kills. Data which you have only now provided a (single) link to - you had not previously. 

    In reference to the prairie chickens, for at least the greater prairie chicken, Sandercock 2013 notes "wind turbines have little effect on greater prairie chickens, and that these grassland birds are more affected by rangeland management practices and by the availability of native prairie and vegetation cover at nest sites". That seems to be the case for the various references I found for the lesser prairie chicken, that the threat to them is far more about habitat (their range needs and their avoidance of tall structures as potential raptor sites) than about bird kills from collisions with either the blades or towers. Results like these make habitat preservation an important aspect of wind power. 

    An interesting discussion - but please ramp down on the rhetoric and tone. 

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  32. "There's no need to be a conservation science denier, as Bailey is."

    Strawman.  I make no claims as to downplaying conservation science or being a pro-windpower advocate to the extent of minimizing their environmental impacts upon aviation populations.  The organized attacks on climate science by fossil fuel-funded outlets include attacks on renewable energy.  The parroting of unfactual and context-less birdkill information is just carbon-hype when the actual context is examined.  Context I endeavored to provide in this thread.

    And it's "Daniel".

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  33. PluviAL @21,

    I am not opposed to civilization, or popularity, or pursuit of profit as long as all humans limit their activities to truly sustainable actions. I point out that those who will not limit their activities in that way are the only real problems (trouble-makers), on this planet. And the system of values they want needs to be changed. They need to adapt to a sustainable reality, even if they don't want to.

    I do not consider your comment to be a valid rebuttal of my criticisms of the current socioeconomic system and the results it develops. Please provide specific proof that the pursuit of popular interest or profit based on the current method of deciding value has any potetial to generate a sustainable better future for all, keeping the following in mind.

    The damaging and unsustainable ways to get pleasure, comfort, convenience or profit will always be cheaper, more popular and more profitable in a system that fails to account for all impacts, particularly one ignoring the using up of a limited opportunity to the bitterest of its ends of potential benefit, no matter how damaging the activity is, just because it is something that can be gotten away with (The global easy to get helium, critical for medical uses, is being consumed by party balloons? Absurd, yet the natural result of pursuit of popularity and profit limited to the concerns of only a portion of the population and to their personal lifetime).

    The only valued activity should be improved ways of living that can be chosen to be done by all humans forever on this amazing planet without reducing the amount or diversity of life. That means that the first measure of acceptability of any activity would need to be conclusive proof that the entire human population can develop to do the activity and continue it forever, until something sustainable but better was developed. And that would also require the curtailing of any activity that had been gotten away with but was learned to be unsustainable and damaging.

    The filter to ensure that only sustainable human activity occur compete is deliberately not in place. Many among the wealthy and powerful do not want to adapt to limiting their opportunity in that way (they want all the freedom they can possibly get away with), mainly because they know they don't have what it takes to succeed in that type of competition. THey even fight against the development of better understanding of the uacceptability fo what they have been getting away with.

    Pluvenergy, and nuclear, and any other human activity on this planet should first have to pass the true sustainability test. Then the competition of popularity and a profit system would become more relevant. That would liklely result in less energy consumption, meaning not living in places requiring larger amounts of energy consumption. It also would mean less consumption of other things (and consuming better quality and more durable things), and no consumption of non-renewables (full recycling as a last resort of acceptability). That adaptation of lifestyle may not be as popular or as profitable as the things that can currently be gotten away with, but at least it could last and be enjoyed into the future.

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  34. An interesting, well balanced article at talks about wind industry impacts on bats:

    Wind Turbines Kill More Than 600,000 Bats A Year. What Should We Do?

    So the problem is not about infrasound as FF monguls and climate science deniers claim (debunked by DB@23); the problem is about "barotrauma" - the extreme barometric stress on small species due to sudden air pressure fluctuations up to the point thier lungs can explode. The small migratory species like hoary bats are mostly affected. The disturbing aspect is that we don't even know the percentage of population being killed so we don't know the extents of the problem. But according to the precautionary principle we should still restrict the deployment of wind farms in the affected areas.

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  35. I was hoping for a bit more objectivity. If one looks at the percent of power generation by wind, and the required expansion of that energy source to realize any real impact to eliminate, for example, dirt burners, one can then tally-up the flying species death results. I won't even get into the environmental esthetics. One might also take a look at the "station black out" fossil fuel generators for the complete picture of wind and solar generation.I'm not at all opposed to wind generation, but I am opposed to the belief that it can even come close to solving any significant fossil fuel generation replacement, without some significant "unintended consequences."I would not endorse more of the present massive scale light water reactors. They represent the influences of a very biased Admiral Rickenbacker. As I stated, a huge percent of construction, operational, and maintenance costs of modern reactors is the nuclear steam supply systems. The sodium cooled FFTF had a full power operational maximum pressure of about 100 PSIG. It also used an electromagnetic RCP. It did not have a secondary steam supply system, but the primary PWR or BWR steam systems are the really expensive part of the light water equation.The cost of PVNGS construction was lower in the late '70s to late '80s, about $6 billion for all three units. Once these plants start generating power, they generate massive amounts of money and electricity.From Wikipedia — which correlates close to the APS data on PVNGS power production (part of our annual incentive payout (bonus) was based on cost per kW hr."The Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant supplies electricity at an operating cost (including fuel and maintenance) of about 1.33 cents per kilowatt-hour.[6] This is cheaper than the cost of coal (2.26 cents per kW•h) or natural gas (4.54 cents per kW•h) in the region as of 2002. However, this power is more expensive than hydroelectric power (0.63 cents per kW•h). Assuming a 60-year lifetime for this power plant and five percent long-term cost of its capital, the depreciation and capital costs not included in the previous marginal cost for Palo Verde are approximately another 1.4 cents per kilowatt-hour."With upgrades over the last decade, PVNGS continuously generates about 4 Giga watts of electrical power. This is about 36% of the total used in the state of AZ. If solar were to replace PVNGS, it would take about 10 Agua Caliente Solar size plants (397 MW when completed this year). The finished cost of Agua Caliente Solar Project is (so far) going to cost about $1.8 billion. To replace PVNGS with solar would cost $18 billion for construction alone. I can (as a maintenance engineer / planner) assure you, that massive volume of solar panels and related inner/outer power distribution, controls/electronics, will cost more per megawatt to keep running than any modern nuclear power plant. Also, 10 Agua Caliente Solar Projects would cover such a huge area of Sonoran Desert, that it would represent an environmental issue.Had I retired in AZ, we were planning to put at least 6 KW worth of solar panels on our home roof. This is a great way to add clean power to the existing grid, and keeps the power distributed to individual home owners, not another government favored utility corporation.
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  36. Ouch, forgive my massive run-on paragraph! I use "No Script" and didn't allow "all the page," so it mucked-up my paragraphs.

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  37. LCBozo... "...I am opposed to the belief that [wind energy] can even come close to solving any significant fossil fuel generation replacement, without some significant "unintended consequences.""

    Can you name one solution that would not have any unintended consequences? Certainly not nuclear. 

    I will reiterate here again, the answer is not A or B or C. The answer to dealing effectively with climate change is A and B and C... and best throw in a D and E while we're at it.

    All solutions are needed, and needed now. We need to put a price on carbon and then watch the marketplace do the job of deciding which technologies are going to be the big winners.

    We can go back and forth all day long about which technologies are better and which have unintended consequences, but at the end of the day we just need to move forward with all of them.

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  38. LCBozo - Regarding your throwaway "the "station black out" fossil fuel generators" statement see this comment on a more appropriate thread; a study of using renewables in the western US grid found that "...the carbon emissions induced by more frequent cycling are negligible (<0.2%) compared with the carbon reductions achieved through the wind and solar power generation evaluated...". In other words, a huge gain from renewables. 

    Further discussion of renewable baseline power really should take place on the appropriate thread, after reading, to avoid repetition. Suffice it to say that it appears quite feasible both technically and economically. 

    As to nuclear waste, while it might be future fuel (Transatomic Power has some interesting proposals, although I don't know how far along they are), you cannot legitimately ignore the costs involved in waste storage, waste reprocessing, and disposal of final nuclear ash and decommissioned powerplants. Nuclear is certainly worth considering as part of the solutions to GHGs, but over-optimistic numbers for any proposal are not terribly helpful.

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  39. There are often discussions about Nuclear on these threads.  It then becomes hard to find the previous posts because nuclear is not in the title.  No-one has appeared to write an opening post for Nuclear Power.  Perhaps a thread could be created with a title like Benefits of Nuclear Power without an OP so that all these comments can be in the same place.  Then we could refer to that thread and not have to re-do all the comments over again.

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  40. Just an observation: pretty much every problem under the "environmental" rubric is an unintended consequence of a solution to some other problem. Civilization itself is a consequence of the invention of agriculture as the solution to some mesolithic clan's food security problem.  One doubts the first farmers foresaw, much less intended, all that's happened since then.

    However global society reacts (or doesn't) to AGW, we can be sure there will be winners and losers, and that even what's intended "for the benefit of all mankind" will be to the detriment of countless other species. 'Twas ever thus!

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