‘Ill Wind’ – written by Karen Lettice, for Encounter Whales,
Southern Right Whale Conservation and Protection, 25th August, 2023
65 deaths and counting! This is the tragic & unprecedented number of whale deaths on the east coast of the United States in recent months. Why? As exposed in the documentary ‘Thrown to the Wind’, the evidence is crystal clear; the grim reaper is Offshore Wind!
Calling out the corruption and astonishing conflicts of interest that have been keeping this truth from the general public, filmmaker/ journalist, Michael Shellenberger and his dedicated research team, have collated some very powerful data to back up their claims.
Arguably the most alarming material presented, since it underscores all the other wrongdoings of the government agencies implicated, involves a blatant money trail, essentially coercion to keep the truth about wind ‘harm’ suppressed.
Briefly though, before I get to that, here’s just a few of the revelations this documentary makes.
- For years, the US government has denied any relationship between whale deaths & the high-decibel surveying, pile driving & increased boat activity of the offshore wind industry. This is a lie. The film convincingly demonstrates a direct correlation to specific whale deaths.
- According to Shellenberger, U.S. government agencies and the scientists who work for them, either “haven’t done the basic … research to back up their claims”, have done it badly, “or found what we found, and are covering it up.” Either way it’s scandalous.
- The agencies, NOAA, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), have repeatedly betrayed the public’s trust in service to powerful industrial interests.
- BOEM could be in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The high-decibel sound emissions recorded during the making of this film appear to violate NOAA’s protective standards for marine life.
But back to that mind-blowing money trail.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has a network of organizations responsible for investigating marine mammal strandings or death. ‘Thrown to the Wind’ reveals members of that network take money directly from the wind industry!
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is of particular interest. On the board of directors for the very organisation which is responsible for investigating the spate of recent whale deaths, about half the members appear to benefit from the development of offshore wind! Head of the list is Paul Tonna. Unashamedly, CEO Mr Tonna is the lead lobbyist for ‘Equinor’, a wind developer!
Among the other members, are a distributed energy developer; a strategic environmental affairs manager; a government affairs person for advocating for ‘Equinor’ in front of federal and state governments, and the list goes on and on.
No wonder then, there is an agreed veil of silence on the harm that offshore wind does to marine wildlife. Better to kill the whales, than the great whirling cash-cows in the sky!
Prioritising its own agenda over incidental whale deaths, the AMCS claims its examinations haven’t brought forward any evidence to suggest a connection between whale deaths and the buildout of offshore wind.
The AMCS maintains ‘climate change’ is the biggest threat to the rapidly disappearing southern right whale and that while the society will continue to document what is happening to the whales, their overriding objective is to make sure that renewable energy, in any form, is at a forefront of what they do, because that will help climate change.
There is a certain calmness in this documentary, perhaps because of the lovely areas in which it was filmed. Nonetheless it is incendiary and upsetting. For those who love whales and the marine environment in general, we can only hope that the film causes the public uproar and demand for answers, that it’s makers obviously intend.
Offshore wind and the harm it will do to endangered marine life, is very topical in southern Australia right now. Jumping on the money-generating global bandwagon, the Australian government is flagging huge areas of our Southern Ocean – off of Gippsland, Portland and Kingston – for massive offshore wind developments.
Pictured: Portland proposal off the SA/VIC border.
By its location, Australia is uniquely placed to offer protection to our richly biodiverse and relatively pristine, unpolluted marine environment. If we allow the indiscriminate, industrialisation of our ocean, as indeed the U.S. is already doing, the role we play in being one of the last bastions of planetary biodiversity will be lost.
In light of what this documentary reveals, Australia needs to take pause and consider whether the destructive path of offshore wind is really one we want to take. Ruining the environment to “supposedly” save the environment, is a ridiculous notion.
The international science community at least, recognises Offshore wind farms (OWF) pose serious risks to marine environments. An extensive study published in ScienceDirect, ‘Unravelling the ecological impacts of large-scale offshore wind farms in the Mediterranean Sea’. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969722008956 highlights
- OWF should be excluded from areas of high biodiversity and/or high valuable seascape.
- OWF development should be forbidden in or in the vicinity of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
- Biodiversity loss and climate change are interconnected and must be tackled simultaneously.
At the very least, the Australian government needs to take a step back to do the required “due diligence” on offshore Wind. Applying the age-old precautionary principle – something the heavily lobbied U.S. government has evidently been disinclined to do – seems eminently sensible under the circumstances.
Called upon to comment in the Sky News report ‘Catastrophe’: Whale deaths linked to wind farms in new documentary, aired August 17th, Australian Minister for Climate Change & Energy, Chris Bowen, dismissed the premise that offshore wind poses any threat to Whales. According to Minister Bowen, whales around the world coexist quite happily with oil, gas, and cargo shipping. We needn’t worry about the whales.
Whales coexist happily with shipping do they?! Conservationists and marine scientists worldwide, recognise shipping (including ship-strike) to be a ‘key’ threat to whale survival. Minister Bowen needs to read his own country’s EPBC Act!
As this documentary establishes, offshore wind is going to be a major obstacle to marine conservation in any country implementing large-scale installations of this renewable.
It should be noted that in the United Kingdom – an early starter in the world’s commitment to offshore wind – installations that have reached the end of their operational life, are undergoing mass decommissioning. Long term sustainability challenges – this ‘renewable’ can’t itself be easily renewed – are literally leaving ‘Wind’ dead in the water.
Each year in Britain 100,000 turbine blades end up in landfill.
Given this and the fact that wind farm developers are pulling out of cost-prohibitive, risky wind farm projects all over the world, you have to seriously question the common sense of the Australian government’s huge incentivising of large-scale wind projects. One can only assume that the promise of an adrenalin shot in the arm of a floundering economy, is just too immediately attractive to turn down.
In Australia, as indeed in all countries where multi-nationals are still lining up to supply wind turbines, huge incentives are involved. The Australian government pays subsidies of up to $900,000 per turbine, per year.
What is going to happen when these financial incentives – which the Australian energy consumer currently pays for – ultimately dry up? Are we to be left with vast broken-umbrella graveyards desecrating our once beautiful seascapes?
And what of our iconic marine life? Will it too become the ghost of a more beautiful past; a past when the southern Australian Coast was home to the most magnificent Blue Whale, the small but determined population of the endangered Southern right whale, and the endangered Australian Sea Lion.
What in fact will happen if the coming wind blows no good?!
Stop the fast-tracked offshore wind farm off the coast of the SA/VIC border.
Federal and State governments have flagged a 200 km area of ocean from Warrnambool in Victoria to Port MacDonnell, South Australia, to become Australia’s first offshore wind energy hub. The richly biodiverse Bonney Upwelling in this area, is one of only 20 rare feeding grounds worldwide for the Blue Whale.
For the sake of our whales and marine wildlife please say “no” to Offshore Wind. It’s better to stop it at the zoning stage.
It’s not yet a done deal. You can help.
👉 Visit https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/oei-southern-ocean/new-survey to fill out the online response survey today.
❗️Please be aware online response submissions need to be in by 11:59pm Thurs, 31 August 2023.
Please sign also this Change.org petition:
Resources and further material of interest:
Sky News report featuring author and environmental policy expert Michael Shellenberger. “This is an absolute environmental catastrophe brought on by bad environmental policies.”
Proof: hard evidence of the money trail – Open letter to Marine Conservation Leaders with conflicted interests. An attached export details donations, sponsorships, and grants received.
Each year in Britain 100,000 turbine blades end up in landfill.
Wind turbines aren’t called “bird choppers” for nothing!
NOAA & BOEM tacitly admit that offshore wind kills whales.
Shocking. A catalogue of thousands of ‘Incidental Take Authorisations’ (permissions to harass or harm marine animals) granted for just one offshore wind project.
Giant wind turbines, each 300 metres high (as tall as the Eiffel Tower) will also be planted in the seabed off Victoria, if a $9 billion plan to help turn Gippsland into a global offshore wind energy hub goes ahead.
More about ‘Thrown to the Wind’:
Link to the trailer and full length ‘Thrown to the Wind’ documentary.
Not yet publicly released, the film can be viewed by subscription members.