Advantages And Disadvantages Of Switching To Wind Turbine Energy

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Switching To Wind Turbine Energy

Michigan residents have mixed responses to the wind farms popping up across the state.

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County officials in Bay County, Michigan are trying to implement more renewable energy into the county.

The county officials are working on a plan to revise the ordinance against wind turbines in Monitor township to allow them on land zoned for agriculture and away from densely populated areas. They would also have safety zones beneath them and be required to avoid excessive noise. Citizens of Monitor township are pushing back against revising the ordinance for various reasons. Among their reasons are decreased home values, noise, safety, and impacts on health.

Wind energy has a variety of benefits.

Not only does it benefit local farmers by contributing to their income it is also a sustainable source of electricity. There are 1,051 operational turbines in Michigan. They produce 4.5% of the energy consumed by residents. By 2021 Michigan is required to produce 15% of its electricity from renewable resources. Michigan produced 8% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2017.

The construction of turbines creates jobs.

Maintenance of them also creates and maintains jobs. If Michigan delegates the appropriate funding for renewable energy they could produce 20% of the consumed energy solely from renewable sources. After the construction of the wind turbines is paid for the cost of producing wind energy drops significantly. The wind costs nothing of course so consumers can be charged two to three cents per kilowatt-hour.

Among the varying benefits, there are disadvantages.

The turbines can be noisy and unattractive. They cast shade and decrease available farmland. Occasionally birds and bats fly into them. The biggest disadvantage is that if there is no wind, no energy is created. Turbines are built at high enough elevations to harness the strongest wind possible to create the most energy they can. Turbines can vary in height from 40 meters to 160 meters tall. The taller the turbine the more energy they can produce.

Turbines are ranked by their KwH capability. The higher the turbine the more Kilowatts it can produce per hour. Currently Michigan has the capacity to produce 1,904 MW a year. In 2017 wind turbines provided enough electricity to power 471,700 homes.

Michigan has plans to put in place more wind turbines to produce even more renewable energy. Support from surrounding communities in imperative to reaching these goals, however. Currently reforming the ordinance in Monitor township has been put on the back burner until August 14th when township officials can meet again about it.

Cover Image Credit:

Pixabay https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-windmills-158142/

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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Why The Recent Rain In San Diego Means Environmental Downturns For The Region

An estimated 6 to 7 gallons per day is flowing into the Tijuana River and the rain is bringing it all the way to our San Diego beaches

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This past week, San Diego has seen a bit of a threat to its year-round summer. The storm that came this last week poured over 2 inches of rain down across the region, a rare occurrence compared to recent years. The precipitation does bring great benefits for the area, such as fertile farmland and cleaner air quality. But due to pollution from Tijuana and run-off contaminants, it's recommended that you wait 72 hours after a storm before swimming or surfing in the ocean.

When rain falls in Tijuana, runoff tainted with sewage, animal waste, toxins, and bacteria enter the Tijuana River, which ultimately drains into the ocean of the OB area. In September the San Diego Water Board sued the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), claiming it is violating the Clean Water Act by not monitoring or stopping untreated waste flowing to the ocean. The IBWC owns these pumps and opponents believe that they have a responsibility to fix these easily-overwhelmed pumps.

"The Mexican section of the IBWC told the U.S. section Tuesday that a massive amount of sewage - an estimated 6 to 7 million gallons per day - is flowing into the Tijuana River Valley and into the Pacific Ocean as a result of the break, the U.S. section said," remarks NBC 7 San Diego.

The lawsuit takes most of its girth in preventative care to make sure this does not become a continuous issue, rather than cleaning up the storm's current mess. It calls for the installation of sewage capturing infrastructure near the border that would help to contain these contaminations. In the big picture, we must realize that taking care of our environment should be our number one priority. Without clean water, surplus food, and a set of natural resources, we cannot debate religion, politics, or anything else that seems to run the political sphere.

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