Posts Tagged Death

Tom Hafey

Tom Hafey is dead. He was 82 years old and died of a brain tumour. For those not in the know, Tom Hafey was the four time premiership coach of the Richmond Football Club. But that is not what disturbs me. What disturbs me is that he was also a fitness fanatic. He rose every day at 5.20 am went for an 8 km run, followed by 250 push-ups and a swim in the bay. When he got home he did 700 crunches. Despite all this his lifespan was only marginally above the Australian average.

My mother also died when she was 82, also of a brain tumour. While she did not share Tom Hafey’s devotion to physical fitness she was obsessed with diet and nutrition, buying organic and consuming truckloads of vitamins, herbs and various other supplements. She finished up marginally below the average age for Australian women.

I realise that these are only two people and those statistics are the result of number crunching many thousands of lifespans. They do not represent hard and fast rules but probabilities. I am sure that for every fit person who dies prematurely there is a decrepit chain smoker that lived into his nineties.

However, I too have an above average interest in diet and fitness, hitting the gym three days per week and, until recently, running four days per week. And that is why the fates of Tom Hafey and my mother disturb me.

Dr. F. Bunny

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Wind Farms Killed 67 Eagles In Five Years


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WASHINGTON — Wind energy facilities in 10 states have killed at least 85 golden and bald eagles since 1997, says a new government study.

Just in the last five years, wind farms have killed at least 67 eagles, but the figure could be much higher, the study says.

The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation’s growing wind energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Barack Obama’s plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution.

But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One of the eagles counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line.

The vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, said the tally was “an alarming and concerning finding.”

A trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement that the figure was much lower than other causes of eagle deaths. The group said it was working with the government and conservation groups to find ways to reduce eagle casualties.

Still, the scientists said their figure is likely to be “substantially” underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The study also excluded the deadliest place in the country for eagles, a cluster of wind farms in a northern California area known as Altamont Pass. Wind farms built there decades ago kill more than 60 per year.

“It is not an isolated event that is restricted to one place in California, it is pretty widespread,” said Brian Millsap, the national raptor coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and one of the study’s authors.

The study excluded 17 eagle deaths for which there was not enough evidence. And, in a footnote, it says more golden and bald eagles have since been killed at wind energy facilities in three additional states — Idaho, Montana, and Nevada.

It’s unclear what toll the deaths could be having on local eagle populations. And while the golden eagle population is stable in the West, any additional mortality to a long-lived species such as an eagle can be a “tipping point,” Millsap said.

The research affirms an AP investigation in May, which revealed dozens of eagle deaths from wind energy facilities and described how the Obama administration was failing to fine or prosecute wind energy companies, even though each death is a violation of federal law.

Documents obtained by the AP under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act show that in two cases in Iowa federal investigators determined that a bald eagle had been killed by blunt force trauma with a wind turbine blade. But neither case led to prosecution.

In one of the cases, a bald eagle was found with a missing wing and a leg in a corn field near a turbine at EDP Renewables North America LLC’s Pioneer Prairie facility in Iowa. But the report says, “due to the sensitive nature of wind farm investigations and the fact that this investigation documented first violation for EDPR in Midwest, no charges will be pursued at this time.” The report lists four other golden eagle deaths at a wind farm operated by the company in Oregon. The company did not return emailed questions about the incidents from the AP.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, which employs the six researchers, has said it is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and seven have been referred to the Justice Department. The authors noted the study’s findings do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, although some of their data was obtained from staff.

Meanwhile, the wind energy industry has pushed for, and the White House is currently evaluating, giving companies permission to kill a set number of eagles for 30 years. The change extends by 25 years the permit length in place now, but it was not subjected to a full environmental review because the administration classified it as an administrative change.

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds of up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

Wind farms in two states, California and Wyoming, were responsible for 58 deaths, followed by facilities in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Texas, Maryland and Iowa.

In all, 32 facilities were implicated. One in Wyoming was responsible for a dozen golden eagle deaths, the most at a single facility.

The research was published in the Journal of Raptor Research.

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Magic Man

There I was sitting back and relaxing on my Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby back to Australia enjoying the kind of inflight service even other airlines talk about (sorry that’s Singapore Airlines), when one of the flight attendants paused in his meandering. He looked down, noticed my stylish Kokoda shirt and asked if I had indeed walked the famous Track. Smiling shyly I acknowledged that I had. He beamed and said that his home village of Alola was one of the ones on the Track.

Then he leaned closer and whispered conspiratorially that he was unable to return to Alola because his fellow villagers were jealous of his success and would kill him if he so much as set foot in the place. But they would not do it by machete, popular though they were. They would do it by magic!

Concerned, I asked about the welfare of his family. He smiled and told me not to worry as they were protected by magical guardians. Leaning still closer he then told me that, if things got really bad, he would turn invisible and kill his family’s enemies. Apparently this was something he had done in the past and could do again if the occasion demanded.

He then proceeded to tell me of one of his relatives who broke a leg. It was too far to get them to the city and too expensive to have the leg fixed, so the village shaman took care of it. Another villager was cursed by a rival shaman. This curse fractured their spine in two places. They were given four days to live. Fortunately the local shaman came to the rescue with a counter spell that restored their spine and all but brought them back from the dead.

There are several disturbing plaques on the Kokoda Track dedicated to people who have died trying to walk it. All are dated between 2006 and 2009. I was told that these deaths were not the result of heart attacks or dehydration, as was the official claim. That was just a cover up. They were all killed by magic. While walking the Track it is important never to be the last in the group. Always make sure there is at least one indigenous person behind you or you could also be magically murdered. I told him I was always up near the front of the group, which seemed to reassure him.

At this point one of the other flight attendants dropped by and suggested, in no uncertain terms, that he get back to work. I did see him again as we filed out of the plane. He smiled and assured me that I would be safe. I felt relieved but was that because he appeared to have cast a good spell on me or because the plane was back on the ground?

Dr. F. Bunny

As a footnote, when we approached Port Moresby a week earlier a definite smell of burning electrical circuitry could be detected wafting through the cabin. The pilot then proceeded to not so much land the plane as drop it like a rock onto the runway. That was when I could really have used a benevolent spell.


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