Claim that offshore wind energy causes beached whales ‘bad reporting’

I saw it on Twitter (which, by the way, could use a good fact checker, dream on) a few days ago–something about offshore wind farm plants in Europe causing whales to beach themselves. Like many anti-wind turbines claims, it seemed farfetched–whales have been beaching themselves in recent years in many locations that are nowhere near offshore wind farms–so I didn’t pay too much attention.

It turns out that the original source of the report, the United Kingdom Daily Telegraph newspaper (a frequent critic of wind power) issued a correction two days after it published the March 15 article, but other outlets forwarded the false information along, including Newsweek magazine, which included it in a short wind-bashing piece in its March 20 issue.

The media watchdog group Media Matters has the story in a nice analysis piece, which deconstructs the whale fable along with (1) the misimpression that wind power poses a threat to birds in general and (2) the fabrication that it doesn’t reduce emissions from electricity generation.

One of the whale study’s co-authors, in an e-mail to Media Matters, commented, "No one is saying that there won’t be any potential disturbance from the installation or operation of wind turbines – I personally think that is likely as well at least in terms of temporary responses during construction … [b]ut to suggest that our results indicate marine mammals are stranded by windfarms is just erroneous and bad reporting."

By Tom Gray,