The Spectator, September 16, Matt Ridley
Who cares about whales? Whales might be dying because of sonar surveying, but Greenpeace simply ignores the science that doesn’t suit it.
So far last year, 71 whales have washed up dead on the shores of New England and neighbouring states. The rate seems to have risen in recent years along with a growth in the number of offshore wind turbines. A small group of concerned citizens have started to campaign against the turbines on behalf of the whales, and the journalist Michael Shellenberger has made a short film about their efforts called Thrown to the Wind.
The evidence gathered by the scientists in the film is far from conclusive: it’s a correlation that could be a coincidence. But it’s not a mad idea that wind farms threaten whales. For a start, the industry has meant increased traffic in the areas where the whales feed, which could well have led to more collisions between whale and ships.
More worryingly, the sonar surveying that precedes wind-farm deployment – to map the seabed and its geology – creates a loud, continuous banging noise that could be disorienting or stressful for the whales. Shellenberger’s documentary shows scientists apparently recording far higher noise levels from the survey ships, and at greater distances, than are permitted by the authorities.
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