From Our Readers
Ted Williams’s “Horse Sense” (Incite, September-October 2006) inspired a mailbox full of letters, some supportive and others, well, less supportive. Here is a sampling of those responses. A commonly cited complaint was that Williams was letting cattle (and the habitat destruction they cause) off the hook. To see his take on the issue of cattle grazing on public lands, readers should check out “Sacred Cows,” in the March-April 2006 issue.
Dear Mr. Kempthorne:
I am deeply concerned about the Teshekpuk Lake (“Do Something,” September-October 2006) area that is so important to wildlife. I understand this area may be open to drilling soon. We human beings have a responsibility to care about the well-being of wildlife. We are not to destroy it. I truly fear the karma that would come with opening up this important area. This would cause disaster after disaster for both humans and wildlife.
Dear Mr. Kempthorne:
I am urging you to protect the Teshekpuk Lake area in the northeast corner of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA). This habitat is very sensitive due to the fact that tens of thousands of molting geese, including a large share of the world’s population of Pacific brant, utilize it each year. Besides these geese, the resources of this pristine area are also valued by Alaska Natives, waterfowl hunters, grizzlies, a 26,000-member caribou herd, and the threatened yellow-billed loon. Since 87 percent of the northeast NPRA is already open for leasing, please give the area north of the lake permanent protection.
TWISTING IN THE WIND
You are severely missing the main point of fluid dynamic and wind power ("Selling the Wind", September - October 2006). Wind turbines not only kill birds, they extract less than a fourth of the energy that passes through them. We knew how to do this thing right when we built the NASA Ames low-speed wind tunnel. At that time we also knew how to do propulsion and dams properly. Had we done so we would not have an energy crunch today. This is not a minor consideration. If you want those who follow us to have a life instead of going the way of the dodo, we need to pay attention to reality instead of the few tax-supported bucks that farmers get from wind turbines. I implore you to do your homework on this issue before you publish on it.
Your September-October issue speaks about wind power, but no mention is made of nuclear power. I live only a few miles from the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. Nuclear power plants can generate all the electricity we need. They do not pollute the air. They do not harm birds or animals. They are relatively safe! Almost all of the electricity in France is generated by nuclear power plants. Why is the United States so slow to provide more nuclear power plants? Wind power is unreliable, costly, and harmful to birds.
Shelton J. Epstein
Perhaps the solution to the killing of birds and bats is to put whistles on the blades to emit noise frequencies that will repel them. I wonder if there have been any studies to show if this is possible. The blades rotate at constant velocities, so variable speeds would not be a problem.
I’m neither a scientist nor an engineer, but I wonder how difficult or expensive it would be to stretch large fine mesh nets in front of and behind wind turbines. Neither birds nor bats would be harmed if they accidentally hit the nets, and I don’t imagine the wind blowing so fast as to make this solution impractical.