Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
In what may be the most absurd Fox News clip this year, "Red Eye" host Greg Gutfeld claimed over the weekend that wind farms kill "billions of birds" every year, calling them "the Manson family of alternative energy."
At issue is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision not to prosecute the operators of the Shiloh IV Wind Project in California, even though Eagles, among other birds, have been killed by the slow-moving turbine blades. The permitting process was specifically authorized by Congress in 2007 when it passed the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which allows projects that may inadvertently kill Eagles to go forward, provided steps are taken to benefit the overall Eagle population.
Wildlife experts say that increased bird mortality on wind farms is largely due to a failure to properly study the migratory patterns of protected species in the area, which is standard practice for most new wind installations.
As the law specifies, the Shiloh IV wind farm is now getting a permit from the federal government excusing them for the accidental deaths of five Eagles over the next five years. In exchange, the operators installed upgrades to over 100 of the surrounding power lines -- which pose a much bigger threat to avian life than turbines -- in order to mitigate the wind farm's toll on the bird population.
"That's four million Eagles," Gutfeld sarcastically pronounced. "Their reasoning... is that wind energy reduces the CO2 in the air, which reduces climate change, which benefits Eagles and other wildlife."
He went on to say that wind turbines kill "billions of birds," then asked: "When are we going to give up on wind energy and invent something like cat energy? Energy made by cats."
Gutfeld concluded the segment by insisting that America should be fueled entirely by frack gas and nuclear energy -- which his co-host called "100 percent safe" -- and then tossed in a little bit of climate change denial for good measure.
Despite his claims, The National Academy of Sciences disagrees with Gutfeld on bird deaths. Wind turbines do not kill "billions of birds" every year -- in fact, only three bird deaths out of every 100,000 are attributable to turbines, amounting to about 200,000 birds per year, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
While that certainly sounds bad, glass windows, power lines, cars and environmental toxins pose a significantly greater threat to avian life than wind farms. The AWEA estimates that collisions with buildings and cars claim an average of 1 billion+ birds' lives each year, while environmental pollution kills more than 72 million annually.
This video is from Fox News's "Red Eye," published online Sunday, October 13, 2013 -- Fighting climate change by killing eagles to save them?
Photo: Screenshot via FoxNews.com.