Mr. Rauber has yet to acknowledge that the intent of the graphic and accompanying article undermine the Sierra Club's objectives to ensure that the expanding renewable energy industry appreciates and protects wildlife. Mr. Rauber suggested removing the Mother Jones link from the Sierra Club website would be "censorship," and told a concerned biologist on Friday that the best reason to say that cats kill more birds than wind turbines is "because it's true". Yes, the data depicted in the graphic are accurate, but the graphic's defense of the wind industry's impact is not consistent with the Sierra Club's objectives.
In a letter sent to Secretary of Interior in January 2012, the Sierra Club leadership had this to say about enforced wind energy guidelines:
"...the wildlife values embodied in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other statutes should be protected by the full weight of the enacted laws and strong enforcement thereof."Aside from this letter, Sierra Club members and staff have been fighting to protect pristine ecosystems and endangered birds and bats from ill-sited utility-scale wind and solar energy projects. These efforts are not a blanket opposition to all renewable energy, as the Mother Jones article implies, but to ensure that the successors to dirty fossil fuels establish a more sustainable business model. It is not "censorship" to remove the Mother Jones link from the Sierra Club website, but an effort to avoid faulty logic and inconsistent messages when communicating with our membership. Our communications should support our conservation goals, not undermine them.
At a very basic level, though, the comparison of bird mortality presented in the Mother Jones graphic is offensive. Even if you do not read the accompanying article lamenting attempts to enforce guidelines on the wind industry, the graphic portrays 440,000 bird deaths as an insignificant drop in the bucket, and manipulates the loss of living creatures with the misguided intent of defending an industry. The Sierra Club's founder had a profound appreciation for each and every living creature, and would not trivialize the loss of even the "smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge." Hopefully Sierra magazine will take this loss of life more seriously in its next issue, and highlight the disregard elements of the wind industry have shown for wildlife.