Questions for ‘Here’s how to increase clean energy without harming wildlife’

a photo of wind turbines and birds rising into the air

We need clean energy sources to slow climate change. But wind turbines can threaten birds and bats. Water turbines can hurt fish. And solar panels mess with desert habitats. Thankfully, ecologists and engineers are coming up with creative ways to limit these threats.

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To accompany ‘Here’s how to increase clean energy without harming wildlife  


Before Reading:

  1. What are greenhouse gases?
  2. Why is reducing greenhouse gas emissions important for protecting the environment?

During Reading:

  1. How can hydropower development put eels and other fish at risk?
  2. Why did Gia Schneider and her team design a new type of turbine? How is their turbine blade different from previous designs?
  3. What are three types of clean energy? What is a basic difference between clean energy and fossil fuels?
  4. How can clean energy production conflict with wildlife? Give at least three examples.
  5. What are two ways that wind farm developers can minimize risks to birds and bats? Describe how the IdentiFlight system works.
  6. How might producing offshore wind farms affect wildlife? What is the job of “protected species observers”?
  7. What is a bubble curtain? How does it work? How well does it work?
  8. What is the most common way solar energy companies try to avoid harming wildlife? In Jeff Lovich’s view, how does this approach present a challenge for the animals?
  9. What approach have developers used at the Ivanpah and Gemini solar power plants to try to be “light on the land”? What do Lovich and Karen Tanner suggest would be an even better solution?
  10.  What is one thing about desert ecosystems that can make it hard to identify potential effects of clean energy development on rare plants?

After Reading:

  1. This story focuses on creating clean energy facilities but does not talk about building fossil fuel plants, such as coal or gas facilities. Think about construction of a new coal plant and a new solar plant. Do you think their effects on wildlife would be similar or different in the short term (months to three years)? If different, which do you think would be larger? What about in the long term?
  2. The end of the story poses this question: The changing climate is a much greater threat to most wildlife than a few clean energy plants. Do you think it is okay for some animals and plants to suffer during green energy development in order to prevent greater suffering from climate change in the future? Explain your reasoning.