During a Sunday appearance on Fox News, Sen. Ron Johnson alleged that ocean “windmills… are killing the whales,” but this is nothing more than misinformation that expert scientists and the government have repeatedly rebuked.
While discussing climate change on Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures, Johnson said, “All this climate alarmism is based on bad science… Again, the climate has always changed, always will. I’m not an alarmist, and I’m not in denial. These windmills, according to an earlier report on your network, are killing the whales.”
At this, host Dagen McDowell, who was filling in for Maria Bartiromo, chined in, “Yeah.”
Fox News has persistently pushed misinformation claiming that wind farms are to blame for elevated numbers of marine life deaths, despite experts saying that turbines are not responsible. Instead, scientists point to rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, which in recent years have forced whales to change the routes they travel, bringing them closer to shore where they are more likely to be harmed by passing ships and fishing gear.
“As of now, there is no evidence to support speculation that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterization surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales, and no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys,” the U.S. Department of Energy wrote on April 28.
If Johnson is so concerned about whales and marine life, he should consider the consequences of oil spills. According to the Center for Biological Diversity’s review of government reports, the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill — the largest of its kind — “likely harmed or killed about 82,000 birds of 102 species; about 6,165 sea turtles; as many as 25,900 marine mammals; and a vast (but unknown) number of fish.”
Oceana, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on ocean conservation, cited research reporting that at least 150 whales and dolphins were discovered dead during the response to Deepwater Horizon, noting that “for each dead whale counted there could be 50 more that die undetected.”
Even without oil spills, fossil fuel drilling in the ocean harms marine life. The industry’s use of seismic airguns to detect oil and gas below the sea bed can harm and even deafen marine life. As Environment America wrote in a 2015 report, “As many as 138,000 Atlantic whales and dolphins are projected to be injured or killed by the use of seismic airguns in the Atlantic offshore drilling regions, according to U.S. government research.”
So don’t buy what Johnson is selling. It’s a strategy perpetuated by fossil fuel companies and spread by conservatives to combat efforts to transition to green energy sources that actually reduce harm to the environment.