Solar Power Company Wants To Make Up For Frying Birds By Neutering Cats

Solar Power Company Wants to Make Up For Frying Birds By Neutering Cats

A few months ago, there were reports on an unsettling consequence of running the world's largest solar plant. The 350,000 mirrors bounce sunlight back towards the atmosphere with such intensity that it basically creates a giant death ray. The poor little birds that pass by don't stand a chance -- they get scorched in midair.

This is not a small problem. The Associated Press' sources now say that there's an average of one so-called "streamer" every two minutes at the $US2.2 billion Ivanpah Dry Lake facility. (They're called streamers due to the trail of smoke the burned birds produce as their carcasses fall to the Earth.) The problem is bad enough that federal wildlife investigators want to stop the plant's owner, BrightSource Energy, from opening an even larger solar farm directly in the flight path of over 100 species of birds, including golden eagles and peregrine falcons. That plant would be four times as dangerous to birds as Ivanpah.

Solar Power Company Wants to Make Up For Frying Birds By Neutering Cats

But don't worry. BrightSource Energy has a solution. One of the company's executives told the AP that BrightSource will cough up $US1.8 million in compensation for the anticipated bird deaths at the new plant. This money, he says, could be used to spay and neuter cats -- which kill billions of birds every year.

The idea creates more questions than it answers. How exactly will spaying and neutering keep the cats from killing birds -- aside from the simple fact that the cats would reproduce less? Wouldn't the right solution be to figure out a way to steer the gigantic death ray death away from the poor innocent birds? The AP reports that "opponents say that would do nothing to help the desert birds at the proposed site." And those opponents sound right!

We've reached out to BrightSource for more information on its plan to save the birds, and their silly idea to spay and neuter cats. We'll update this post when we hear back. [Sploid, AP]

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    We’ve reached out to BrightSource for more information on its plan to save the birds, and their silly idea to spay and neuter cats. We’ll update this post when we hear back.
    I'm sure they'll respond well to the framing.

    It's quite logical, though. From a corporate point of view. It's actually very similar to carbon credit trading. Do harm in one place, reduce harm in another place in another way, to a greater 'value' of harm. If the maths or research shows that feral cats are responsible for enough deaths and that their populations could be reduced with enough neutering, then... win?

    Of course, treating entire ecologies as indistinct, fungible units in some kind of zero sum game would probably enrage any conservationist.

    The workers there never have to waste time visiting KFC for something crispy at lunchtime.

    With more RnD, I wounded if we could come up with a signal audable only to birds, which pretty much sums up as "flying closer towards this is danger".

    Being able to deter the birds or refocus the reflected light would help.

      The easier, cheaper and more logical thing to have done is to not put these things in areas where migratory birds roost.

        I'd have thought the easier-logical thing would be focusing reflected light. Reflection is a waste of energy that could be used for better things than impromptu BBQ.

          I suspect the bird death zone would be a conical space below the top of the tower. So the point is that the light is already being reflected then focused, hence why the birds are being cooked. I'm curious as to how far from the centre the death cone extends.

        I strongly suspect that choosing a different location was probably not easier or cheaper... as long as you don't give a shit about the birds. Easy and cheap was probably the primary motivator for th choice of location. (Again... as long as you don't give a shit about ecological damage.)

    Surely some sort of stray light dispersion/diffuser that sits above the tower would prevent additional light energy shooting off and frying the birds too?
    And how could they not put up some sort of bird deterrent? Even a simple kite the shape of a bird of prey could work. Sheesh!

    The birds will as a matter of evolution figure it out
    They will just die

    Wonder how many birds got killed by the shockwave of the space shuttle taking off or any rocket for that matter ?

      They don't make much of a shock wave (unless they explode). They produce thrust, much like an airplane, just on a much larger scale.

      Not sure why this is relevant to solar death rays though.

        Because the "thrust" wave is apparently deadly and that's why there was/is a "human" exclusion zone
        I was just curious about the birds and other wildlife that would never have got the memo to stay well clear.

        Actually I think in reference to the original story, neutering cats I think is a great idea as it will definitely offset the loss of birdlife

        We need power there's no way around it, my ps4 and my iPhone NEED it :)

          How many launches did NASA do? Compared to a bird every 2 minutes.

      Not sure about rockets in general but when the space shuttle was launching they would have people in and around the swamps shooting guns and putting up bird scares to keep the birds away.

      There was one bird almost got taken up with the shuttle when it was found nesting in the insulation of the external tank.

        OK, looks like I was totally wrong about this one!

    I call BS about this "problem" - just how much wildlife is killed by coal mines and coal powered generators? Just guessing the answer is not "none". All industrial activity impacts nature, including hydro dams - its a matter of net effect.

      Doing nothing about a problem because there are other problems doesn't achieve much mate.

    No. Keep getting the birds. I'm sick of birds pooping on my car. Kill them all.

      What about the damage caused to millions of people's TV antennas when they all decide to hold a meeting ?
      Yeah fck the birds :)

        I thought you trolls ate birds?


    Did you actually think before you typed? You can't offset loss of birdlife. It's not a resource. These birds are migratory, meaning that they will travel this way by instinct. They won't simply learn not to go this way because the ones that learn are the ones that die. Logic?

    Also, a neutered cat still kills birds so that doesn't make sense either.

    And then there's the fact that neutering cats to stop killing common pigeons and sparrows doesn't save endangered migratory birds such as eagles.

      Firstly your obviously a very serious person with little to no sense of humour
      Secondly neutering cats does help in that they don't breed more cats to kill more birds
      Thirdly if you had any understanding of evolution you'd know that over the course of 1000 years from an evolution point of view, 'the migrating' birds

    Couldn't they quite easily just use one of those sound blasters, such as those found at airports, that blast predatory calls to deter birds entering a certain area? Or is the space too large?

    The technology exists - why is this still a problem -_-

    What about tracking the birds in the vicinity of the tower. Then using the mirror motors to redirect light, create a black spot around the bird. The birds wouldn't know the difference, and the power loss would be insignificant.

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