Nothing like fighting a (fake) environmental issue by creating another
Weighing more than 100 pounds, big cats have long reigned over this hot and semi-arid region of Brazil, developing tougher paws for the scorched earth and reaching speeds of 50 miles an hour to bring down wild boar and deer.
But nothing could have prepared for them the 150-foot blades now slicing up the deep blue sky above them.
Jaguars and pumas are facing extinction in the Caatinga, Brazil’s northeastern shrublands, as Europe and China pour investment into wind farms, puncturing the land with vast turbines that are scaring the animals away from the region’s scant water sources.
Particularly sensitive to changes to their habitat, the jaguars and pumas abandon their lairs as soon as construction work on the wind farms begins, said Claudia Bueno de Campos, a biologist who helped found the group Friends of the Jaguars and has tracked the region’s vanishing feline population. They then roam vast distances across the dusty plains in search of new streams and rivers.
The weakest perish along the way. Others venture closer to villages, where locals have started laying traps to protect their small herds of goats and sheep, often their only form of survival in this impoverished region.
A lot of the Caatinga area is scrubland, as mentioned. It is not jungle or forested. So, it seemed like a perfect area for lots and lots of wind turbines. I guess not. And how many other species are being negatively affected by the construction and operation? They could have put up a small natural gas energy plant and generated more energy at a lower cost and consistent without endangering all the animals
But by helping to solve one problem—climate change—the wind industry risks creating others, warn conservationists. Indigenous groups recently staged protests in Brazil over the installation of turbines on lands they say are rightfully theirs, while environmentalists have also raised concerns that wind farms installed on compacted sand dunes on the northern coast could have damaged underground water reservoirs.
If it’s not one thing it’s something else.
Elbia Gannoum, head of the Brazilian Wind Power Association, said the wind farms aren’t to blame for the shrinking population of big cats, noting that regular visits to the otherwise deserted areas by employees of the wind power companies help deter illegal hunting.
“Yes, the wind farms force jaguars and pumas into different areas, but after the construction phase, they tend to come back,” she said, adding that conservation projects run by the companies should help to boost the big cat population.
The abject poverty of the region means that local governments give wind farms the green light with few conditions, they assert.
Well, you have to break a few eggs to save the world from boiling, right?
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