How many birds must die while you pour refrigerated soy milk on your granola?

According to The Province:

More than 300 sea birds, mostly brown pelicans and northern gannets, have been found dead along the U.S. Gulf Coast during the first five weeks of BP’s huge oil spill off Louisiana, wildlife officials reported Monday.

Tragic. Poor birds.

According to another report:

While generating megawatts of electricity, windmills on the Tug Hill Plateau in northern New York are also killing hundreds of bats and birds, according to a recent study.

The consultants’ report for PPM Energy and Horizon Energy identified 123 birds, mostly night migrants, and 326 bats found dead over the course of five months last year beneath 50 wind turbines on the plateau between Lake Ontario and the western Adirondacks.

Those poor birds and bats, done in by some windmills. The article describes 123 birds and 326 bats killed by 50 windmills over 5 months. While the other article explains that about 300 birds killed. This by about 37 million gallons of oil over 5 weeks.

The wind-watch article also mentions that those 50 turbines produce 900,000 megawatt hours per year.

Let’s only consider the number of birds killed.

Oil:
1.7 MWh per barrel of oil x 37,000,000 barrels = 62,900,000 MWh of energy in the oil spill to date
62,900,000 MWh / 300 birds = 209667 MWh per bird killed

Wind:
50 turbines produce 900,000 MWh per year
4.35 weeks/month * 5 months = 21.75 weeks
21.75 weeks / 52 weeks/year = 0.42 years
0.42 years * 900,000 MWh/year = 376442 MWh produced by windmills over 5 month period
376442 MWh / 123 birds = 3061 MWh per bird killed

Oil vs. Wind
209667 MWh per bird killed (oil) / 3061 MWh per bird killed (wind) ~= 68

What does this mean?

In terms of environmental impact measured by one factor (birds killed), windmills are about 68x more efficient at killing birds per unit energy derived. To garner the same amount of energy needed from wind than from oil, we’d have to operate the windmills 68x longer or increase the number of windmills by 68x in order to get the same amount of energy. This means that about 68x more birds will die if we wanted to match the energy we’d get from oil. This would result in 68 * 123 birds = 8425 birds dead compared to the 300 dead from the oil spill for the same amount of energy derived.

There is, of course, one major flaw in the calculation above (besides my wanton disregard for sig figs). We’ve only considered oil spilled in the gulf. Alas, the vast majority (ie. 99.9999%) of oil isn’t spilled. When oil isn’t spilled, its efficiency in killing birds goes way down. Further, the wind energy we consider above is the norm not the exception; this is the rate of bird death during normal operation of wind turbines.

Clearly, when considering the environmental impact of oil by showing dead oil slicked birds on cable news, oil actually isn’t comparatively bad. In fact, it is a less efficient killer of birds per unit energy derived.

The champ?

And in Canadian politics, the NDP crows about windmills:

and chirps off-shore drilling:

Stephen Harper congratulates David Cameron

Just received:

‎​A few short moments ago, Prime Minister Harper spoke with the new British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
 
Prime Minister Harper warmly congratulated PM Cameron on his electoral victory and appointment as prime minister by Her Majesty the Queen.
 
Prime Minster Harper told Prime Minister Cameron that “we will see each other in Muskoka and Toronto at the upcoming G-8 and G-20 Summits. The relationship between our two countries means a lot and I look forward to working with you in the years to come. Give my best to your wife Samantha, Laureen and I look forward to meeting her. Once again Prime Minister congratulations and my best wishes.”
 
Note: Prime Minister Harper has previously met Prime Minister Cameron while he was leader of the opposition.

Derek Lee should read stephentaylor.ca more often

He could have had a two week head-start to prepare for John Baird’s attack in the House of Commons on Thursday.

I’m told Baird’s surprise response to questions about Glemaud/Jaffer set the Liberals scrambling on their lobbyist line of attack against the government. The government suggests that opposition MPs should register their meetings with lobbyists while the Liberals seem to disagree. Introducing Lee’s Sun & Partners bio into the debate clouds the Liberal efforts on establishing a narrative against the government on inappropriate lobbying.

Now, Baird is questioning Lee’s presence on a committee that oversees government regulations.

The Liberals are trying to show that the Conservatives are no saints on transparency and accountability, while the Conservatives are trying to show Canadians that the Liberals still cannot advocate from a position of moral clarity on the same issues.

Meanwhile, aside from the sideshow that is Parliament — over there, look! It’s something that Canadians actually care about:

Canada adds a record 108,700 jobs in April

Cocaine, busty hookers and lobbying might make an interesting show for trash TV, but the Parliament Show keeps getting poor ratings. Anyway, didn’t CSI or Law and Order already do that show? (they’ve done every other show…) Besides, their casting is much better. I still can’t believe Michael Ignatieff has returned for another season to reprise his role as the aloof professor that just doesn’t care.

UK Tory GOTV E-day effort online

We’re still watching the votes come in on this side of the pond and it’s turning into a late night/early morning for our cousins in the UK as votes are counted and a hung (minority) Parliament looks like the outcome of the election in that country.

I spoke to the web gurus over at the British Conservative Party on election day to find out what they did to drive get out the vote (GOTV) efforts online. They revealed a peak into their strategy for mobilizing Britons to the polls.

First, an unprecedented buy of the British Youtube homepage’s ad unit. Cameron’s web team has admitted to me that they received millions of impressions of their video advert on e-day. Advertising on broadcast media is prohibited in the UK on election day and thus the Youtube ad placement is shrewd and effective. Part of the motivation to buy Youtube for May 7th was to keep the same rare legal platform for advertising out of the hands of their political opponents.

The UK Tories also mobilized a simple Facebook application which allowed the user to donate their status update message to a GOTV message for the Tories on election day. We saw a similar tactic used during the previous US presidential election for both McCain and Obama.

An email was sent out from David Cameron to the UK Tory supporter list for election day:

and later in the day, a second GOTV email from London mayor (and Conservative) Boris Johnson:

Finally, but most importantly, the integral element of the Tory e-day e-GOTV strategy has been Google advertising. The Tories have purchased keywords relating to their leader and to their political opponents and have targeted the ads geographically in key ridings.

And now, we continue to watch the votes come in. The magic number to beat a Labour/LibDem coalition is 310 seats, whereas a majority would be won with 326.