Monday, November 26, 2012


Help for Chicago’s high fliers

A Northern Flicker, dead as a result of running into the window of a Chicago skyscraper. [Image credit: Annette Prince, Director of Chicago Collision Monitors]

A Generalist Investigation


Lots of birds die every year – most from natural causes. Lots of birds are killed by hunters, large numbers by cats. But I was unaware that, after habitat destruction, the biggest number of bird deaths are caused by plate glass and reflective windows – the full story of which follows.

As well as Window Kills, I have investigated bird deaths involved with power lines and the even more controversial subject of bird deaths caused by wind farms in subsequent posts.

Birds collide with lots of different kinds of man-made objects and below you will see some comparative figures from the US which gives annual death rates from these various causes and others. The figures differ in each case.

  The American Bird Conservancy published the chart below comparing US bird collision deaths from a number of causes. Data date with low and high estimates:

Wind turbines: 100,000 (2010) - 440,000 (2009)

Communication Towers: 2008                               4,000,000-50,000,000

Power lines: 2001  10,000,000-154,000,000

Roads/vehicles: 2005  10,700,000-380,000,000

Urban light: 2009  31,158,000

Glass: 2006 100,000,000 - 1,000,000,000

According to the Migratory Bird Mortality Fact Sheet produced by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

‘Building window strikes may account for 96 to 976 million bird deaths each year.

Communication towers conservatively kill 4 to 5 million birds annually (probably closer to 40 to 50 million; a nationwide cumulative impacts study should help resolve this question).

Strikes at high tension transmission and distribution power lines very conservatively kill tens of thousands of birds annually. Taking into account the millions of miles of bulk transmission and distribution line in the US, and extrapolating from European studies, actual mortality could be as high as 174 million deaths annually. Electrocutions probably kill tens of thousands of birds but the problem is barely monitored.

Cars may kill 60 million birds or more each year, private and commercial aircraft far fewer

Wind turbines kill an estimated 33,000 birds annually.’

SEE ALSO: ‘Avian mortality from wind power, fossil fuel and nuclear electricity’ by Benjamin K. Sovacool (2009)

This contains the following chart, reproduced in the Wikipedia entry on the Environmental Impact of Wind Power which includes a broader range of causes of avian mortality.

Causes of avian mortality in the United States. Estimated mortality (in thousands)

Wind turbines 440

Aircraft 80

Nuclear power plants 330

Large Communications Towers (over 180', North America) 6,800

Communication towers (cellular, radio, microwave) 4,000 – 50,000

Fossil fuel power plants 14,000

Cars & trucks 50,000 – 100,000

Agriculture 67,000

Pesticide use 72,000

Building windows 97,000 – 976,000

Domestic cats 100,000

Hunting 100,000

Feral cats 110,000

Transmission Lines (conventional power plants) 175,000


Hawk eye

Hawkeye by Steve Jurvetson

Its worth asking why do birds collide with things. This is the subject of a fascinating paper which you can read here: ‘Scientists find bird-centric solutions to avian collisions’

'From a human perspective it appears very odd that birds so often collide with large objects as if they don't see them,' commented Professor Graham Martin from Birmingham University in the UK. He said that it is widely held that flight in birds is controlled primarily by vision, an idea captured by the phrase 'a bird is a wing guided by an eye,' but he pointed out that 'birds live in a different visual world to humans'.

       See also: ‘Why Birds Crash’ on The Naked Scientist


flap threats

A small fraction of the tragic death of migratory birds from building collisions. (Photo: Jim Robertson). SOURCE: FLAP

This is the essence of a story in the New York Times which shocked and intrigued The Generalist.

Up to nine million birds a year are killed in Toronto by crashing into glass-fronted skyscrapers. The city, on the shore of Lake Ontario is in the path of several major bird migration routes. The glass facades reflect the sky or the surrounding trees, disorientating the birds who head for this mirage at high speed and end up maimed or dead on the pavement below.

So many birds – mainly songbirds - die in this way that volunteers from the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), founded in 1993, mount daily patrols to collect dead and injured birds in the city’s financial district. FLAP’s founder Michael Mesure once collected 500 dead birds in a single day.


Birds collected after colliding with buildings, Toronto 2009, by Kenneth Herdy, FLAP

Birds collected after colliding with buildings, Toronto 2009, by Kenneth Herdy, Source: FLAP

There have been developments since this story was published on Nov 11th. NYT’s reporter Ian Austen wrote that FLAP was involved in two legal cases to try and prosecute building owners using legislation to protect migratory birds. A judgment one one of them was reported on Nov 14th in The Record where you can find the complete story.

In brief, the owners of a cluster of high-rise towers, considered the deadliest building complex in the city for bird strikes, were defending themselves against three charges brought under two piece of animal protection legislation  in a test case. The judge dismissed the case but the two-year legal battle ironically achieved one of its main objectives. When hearing began in 2011, the building owners began working with FLAP to try and deal with the problem by retrofitting the towers with ‘an outer-layer film designed to steer birds away’ . They also ‘established “bird action stations” to assist FLAP volunteers in their efforts to collect and tag bird strike victims,’ As a result of the film, FLAP reports that deaths had dropped to 200 or so in 2011. [Incidentally, The Record reports that Mesure’s estimate of bird deaths in Toronto as one million a year – still a lot of birds.]



Photo by Carl Vomberg of 206 birds collected at 49 sites in Manhattan (2th April-24th Nov 2002), a fraction of the birds killed in the borough during that period. Source: Window Pain - David Sibley (Birders World Dec 2008)

Find out what is happening in Chicago with the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors who, since 2003 have been working with others to persuade building owners to voluntarily reduce lighting during the spring and fall bird migration seasons.

A detailed account of their activities is carried in an excellent article in Audubon magazine  - ‘Pain In The Glass by Julie Leibach   - which raises some very interesting issues:

  • Most people simply aren’t aware of the problem:

‘ Birds that hit buildings at night or during the early morning hours often go unseen, scavenged from the ground by resident predators lurking nearby such as gulls and crows, swept up by sanitation crews, or power-washed out of sight.’

  • Sustainable buildings

‘a growing trend toward environmentally responsible building holds promise, as bird advocates, conservationists, and architects tout what they consider a vital sustainable design concept: bird safety—which, in a cruel twist, could be undermined by a building’s other environmental attributes, such as rooftop gardens and energy-efficient windows with reflective coatings. “[Architects and their clients] can use all the recycled material they want, they can save all the energy they want,” says Daniel Klem Jr., an ornithologist who has devoted his career to studying bird collisions. “But if their building is still killing birds, it’s not green to me.”


More information at Birds and Buildings  who advise: ‘If your creating “visual noise” on or around a window, be sure that the openings are no larger than a handprint.’



A Northern Cardinal and the reflection that killed it. Source: Birds and Windows

One of the world’s experts on this largely unrecognised problem is Prof Daniel Klem Jr, an ornithologist at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, who has been studying the issue for many years. According to a 2004 interview plate glass, reflective or not, is the biggest killer of birds after habitat destruction. Suburban buildings are as much of a problem as skyscrapers. Klem estimates that collisions with glass kill an estimated 98 million to 976 million birds a year in the US alone.

According to his 1990 paper BIRD INJURIES, CAUSE OF DEATH, AND RECUPERATION FROM COLLISIONS WITH WINDOWS this represents  0.5 to 5.0% of the 20 billion birds estimated to compose the continental U.S. bird population after the breeding season each year. By comparison, approximately 3.5 million (2.0%) bird fatalities are due to pollution and poisoning, 57 million (29.2%) result from road collisions and 120.5 million (61.5%) from hunting. He writes: ‘I suspect that additional study will reveal glass panes to exact the highest toll of any human-related avian mortality.’

‘My experimental results have revealed varied and effective methods of preventing bird strikes….Glass panes must be completely covered if collisions are to be eliminated. Covering windows with netting is most effective when cost and aesthetic appearance are acceptable. Alternatively, glass panes must be transformed into obstacles that birds can recognize and avoid… windows must be uniformly covered with objects on or near the glass surface and separated by 5 to 10 cm. I found 2.5 cm cloth strips oriented vertically and separated by 10 cm [to be most effective]….For new or remodelled buildings, architects and designers are encouraged to install windows at an angle such that the pane reflects the ground instead of the surrounding habitat and sky…Single objects such as falcon silhouettes or owl decals, large eye patterns, various other pattern designs, and decoys did not reduce strike rates… they fail to prevent most strikes because they cover only part of the glass and are not applied in sufficient numbers to alert the birds to the glass barrier. Glass surfaces must be uniformly covered with objects or patterns, separated by 5 to 10 cm, to effectively prevent bird strikes at windows.’

See also: Make Your Windows Safer for Birds [Cornell Lab of Ornithology] and The Bird Screen Company


Reflections in a glass office building confuse birds and can be fatal. Photo by Microsoft

Composite photo of birds killed at buildings in Baltimore, by Daniel Lebbin, ABC. This photo come from the site of the American Bird Conservancy.


Source: Birdlife (c) MME/ BirdLife Hungary, accompanying an article concerning the Budapest Declaration on bird protection and power lines. Adopted by the Conference “Power lines and bird mortality in Europe” (Budapest, Hungary, 13 April, 2011)  


In November 2011, two reports - The Review of the Conflict Between Migratory Birds and Electricity Power Grids in the African-Eurasian Region and the Guidelines on How to Avoid or Mitigate the Impact of Electricity Power Grids on Migratory Birds in the African-Eurasian Region were reviewed at a UN wildlife conference in Norway. These were some of their findings:

Power lines constitute one of the major causes of unnatural death for birds both through electrocution and fatal collisions. At end of 2010 there were 70.5 million kilometers of power lines throughout the world, constructed with minimal consideration of their environmental impact. This is expected to increase to 76.2 million kilometers by the end of 2015.

The review shows that in the African-Eurasian region alone, hundreds of thousands of birds die annually from electrocution and tens of millions of birds from collision with power lines. In general, large birds seem to be more affected.

For some large, slow reproducing bird species which migrate across this region, such as pelicans, storks, flamingos, birds of prey, cranes, bustards and owls, the death toll could possibly lead to population declines or local or regional extinction.

A Blue Crane killed after colliding with electricity power grid

In South Africa, for example, 12% of Blue Cranes, South Africa's national bird, and 11-15% of Ludwig's Bustards are dying annually in collisions with a growing number of power lines.

According to the review, hotspots for electrocution are especially found in open habitats lacking natural perches or nesting trees for the birds, such as steppes, deserts and wetlands.

"The international guidelines present a number of appropriate legislative and policy actions and some creative technical measures on how to mitigate and reduce the vast number of unnatural bird mortalities caused by electricity power grids," said CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema.

While the scope of the study was to review the situation across Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the measures highlighted in the guidelines can be applied globally.

In northern Europe, for example, all low and medium voltage distribution lines have been placed underground in the Netherlands and similar measures are also being carried out in parts of Belgium, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany and Norway.

"Our experience from Norway is that there are various measures that can reduce the risks of collision and electrocution, such as the use of underground cables, removal of the top line and route selection, and that they are working," said Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development of Norway.

Other less expensive measures include the insulation of dangerous electric parts of the lines, the installation of bird-friendly perching and nesting devices as well as the installation of markers or bird flight diverters in overhead wires.

The relative lack of electrical infrastructure across the African continent to date provides an opportunity to avoid the mistakes made elsewhere when new infrastructure is constructed.’

Source: UNEP news centre


Source: Green Guide Spain

The Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) is a long-lived resident tree-nesting raptor endemic of the Iberian Peninsula. With an estimated population of 250 pairs (National Working Group, unpublished data 2008), it has been considered one of the most endangered raptors in the world

Electrocution on power lines has been reported to be the main known cause of death for the species, accounting for 60% of mortality cases with a strong sex-biased distribution towards female birds.

In late 80's and early 90's, several studies highlighted the risk of electrocution to population persistence of the Spanish imperial eagle  and mitigation measures were instigated accordingly. As a consequence, electrocution rates have changed from accounting for nearly 60% of total mortality events to 39.87%.   

the reduction in electrocution fatalities has been accompanied by a general increase in the population, and demonstrates that at least some large scale conservation problems can be resolved. However, the question remains as to the total cost of fixing the problem, and whether that cost is affordable.

Conservation and the preservation of biodiversity require financial investment from both the public and private sector budget. In our case, nearly €2.6 million have been spent on mitigation of bird electrocution during 1992–2009, which equals an investment of €154,352.94 per year. The Spanish imperial eagle population in Andalucía has increased from 31 to 60 pairs in the same period. Taking into account the high budgets assigned to the construction of new power lines and alternative power sources (e.g. wind farms, solar panel arrays), our results demonstrate that solving bird electrocution is an affordable problem if political interest is shown and financial investment is made.’

Extracts from: Solving Man-Induced Large-Scale Conservation Problems: The Spanish Imperial Eagle and Power Lines by Lopez-Lopez et al. (2011) Source:


Death by electrocution is the primary cause of death of the Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata). (Credit: Universidad de Barcelona)

A study published in the American Journal of Wildlife Management  in 2010 was produced by the University of Barcelona's Conservation Biology Group, directed by Joan Real of the Department of Animal Biology. It focused on preventing bird electrocution through the identification and correction of high-risk pylons.

‘In Catalonia, electrocution is the primary cause of death of the Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata), and across the rest of the Iberian Peninsula it affects particularly large numbers of the endangered Iberian Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) and many other ecologically valuable species.

‘Electrocution occurs when a bird comes into contact with two wires or when it perches on a conductive pylon (for example, a metal structure) and comes into simultaneous contact with a wire. In Catalonia, there are more than 1000 different models of electricity pylons, which pose different levels of threat to birds.’

According to Joan Real, applying correction measures "to only 6% of the most dangerous pylons could reduce bird mortality by up to 70%."

Source: Science Daily


The golden eagle is one of five "Birds of Prey" now depicted on U.S. postage stamps (2012). Source: Outdoors blog

‘The birds that are most affected by unshielded electrical equipment are raptors such as eagles and hawks, and these raptors tend to seek high perches on which to sit and survey the scene, searching for prey.‘

‘The data are scattered, incomplete, and in some cases old, but one study published in 1995 is suggestive: in a survey of some 4,300 cases of eagle mortality around the United States from 1960 to 1990, electrocution was the second most common cause of death, after accidental trauma and far ahead of gunshot or poisoning. Golden eagles were more susceptible than bald eagles to electrocution, precisely because they favor treeless habitats in which power lines provide the only perches.

Similar conditions obtain in the steppes and deserts of Russia, Central Asia, China, and Africa. The documentation from such places is even scarcer, but a recent German study of a nature reserve on Lake Tengiz, in Kazakhstan, reports that ‘numerous birds, including 200 Kestrels, 48 Steppe Eagles, two Spanish Imperial Eagles, one White-tailed Eagle and one Black Vulture were recorded killed by electrocution along an eleven-kilometer medium voltage overhead power line for the month of October 2000 only.’

Source: ‘Bird on a Wire: The Electrocution of Wild Birds’ by Gregory McNamee on


Eagles nest on power poles

Eagles and power poles

Two solutions developed by conservationist Morian Nelson to protect eagles from electrocution in the US. See full story here: One More Hero by Allan Gates.


UPDATED: November 27th 2012

Bird deaths caused by wind farms is a very controversial subject which one must tread carefully in reporting. There’s a lot of loose talk out there and many vested interests. The Generalist hope this post will provide a useful and independent view. I am broadly enthusiastic about wind energy development. Greater public awareness of this issue should help to ensure that known solutions to bird collision death problems are properly addressed. The industry can help themselves by being more open about the problem and about what they are doing about it.

Wind energy is the fastest growing source of power worldwide according to the World Bank. China plans a 60% increase in the next three years and the US a six-fold jump by 2030. The EU aims to produce 20% of its energy through renewables by 2020 - much it this from wind. Will this huge expansion of wind farms have a serious impact on bird life?




These three maps make this global expansion easier to visualise. The data is from 2009.  (Top): Existing wind farms (Centre): Wind farms under construction; (Bottom) Wind farms planned for future development. Data from 2009. Source:


Migratory flyways of wild bird populations. A world map with the main general migratory flyways of wild bird populations is shown (adapted from information collected and analyzed by Wetlands International). Source: Science/21st April 2006  [ignore the dots]


This map illustrates the four major migration flyways of North America; developers are hard-pressed to site wind projects in areas with little effect on birds.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This map illustrates the four major migration flyways of North America; developers are hard-pressed to site wind projects in areas with little effect on birds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) estimates that 440,000 birds are killed in collisions with wind turbines each year; without stronger regulation, says the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the annual toll will exceed one million by 2030. To address this issue, the U.S. Department of the Interior has released voluntary guidelines to help developers minimize the impact of wind energy projects on bird habitat and migration. Developed over five years with an advisory committee that included government agencies, the wind energy industry, and some conservation organizations, the guidelines are intended to ensure compliance with federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act—although the rules allowing them to do so are controversial.

Source: ‘Mixed News For Birds, Wind Farms and Buildings’ by Erin Weaver /GreenSource/April 30 2012


The modern wind industry really began in the early1980s. According to The Economist: ‘Even though the technology was in its early stages, California installed more than 1.2GW of wind power, then almost 90% of global capacity, in the first half of the 1980s—an era that has come to be known as the great “wind rush”. The rush was driven by a combination of federal tax credits and generous state incentives for wind power. Previously, wind turbines had been installed as single machines or in small clusters. But during the boom, turbines began to be installed in large arrays, or “wind farms”.’

Panorama. Photo by Steve Deutsch, 2003. Source:

The most notorious of these was at Altamont Pass north of San Francisco – notorious because it became a graveyard for birds.

The Altamont Pass wind farm, one of the earliest built in the US – the first rotors were installed in 1981 -  is still the largest concentration of wind turbines in the world, composed of 5,200 small wind turbines of various types, sited in a 62 sq ml area of land, operated by some dozen companies.  When construction started no thought had been given to its effect on wildlife, particularly birds.

More than 4,700 birds are killed here each year, including 1300 birds of prey –rare burrowing owls, red-tailed hawks and golden eagles. In fact Altamont Pass is the world’s densest nesting area for golden eagles, a federally protected species. Seventy to eighty eagles are killed each year by the wind turbines. 

According to Popular Mechanics (2007): "A lot of adults come here looking for territory," says ecologist Shawn Smallwood, who has studied the pass extensively, "and very few make it out." By checking 600 of these turbines every day (and many more on other companies’ sites), Smallwood was able to identify the deadliest offenders.’

This excellent video (from 2007) ‘Fatal Attraction: Birds and Wind Turbines’ tells the story.of Altamont Pass and the battle to get the companies involved to replace dangerous turbines. Some progress has been made.

According to Wikipedia: ‘As of 2010, a settlement has been reached between the Audubon Society, Californians for Renewable Energy and NextEra Energy Resources (who operate some 5,000 turbines in the area). Nearly half of the smaller turbines will be replaced by newer, more bird-friendly models. The project is expected to be complete by 2015 and includes $2.5 million for raptor habitat restoration.’



In  Common concerns about Wind Power  a 2012 report from the Centre of Sustainable Energy in Bristol, it says that ‘these unfortunate events form the basis of the misconception that new wind farms will cause dis-proportionate harm to bird populations.’

It also says that ‘Considerable variation exists in the number of birds killed annually across different wind farms worldwide’ although no data is given.

Also that ‘the industry now undertakes extensive surveying of avian populations and migratory routes to further minimise any detrimental effects before commercial turbines are sited.

‘Modern, large-scale megawatt turbines in use for the past
ten years have been found to result in a significantly lower
rate of fatalities in most areas where they have been
subsequently introduced.’

[On this last point: At Altamont Pass, for example, 250 of the smaller turbines were replaced with 80 new ones, twice as tall, producing comparable power. The new height has helped cut eagle deaths but increased red-tailed hawk deaths which fly at a higher altitude).


It is certainly true that, at present, the number of bird deaths caused by wind turbines are much lower than other causes of bird mortality – two of which we have looked at in the Previous Posts. 

But according to  Meera Subramanian in an article The Trouble With Turbines: An Ill Wind [Nature/June 2012]. turbines disproportionally ‘ threaten species that are already struggling, such as bats, which in North America have been hit hard by white-nose fungus…. and raptors, which are slow to reproduce and favour the wind corridors that energy companies covet.

“There are species of birds that are getting killed by wind turbines that do not get killed by autos, windows or buildings,” says Shawn Smallwood,

‘Other species at risk include the critically endangered California condors (Gymnogyps californicus) — which number only 226 in the wild — and the few hundred remaining whooping cranes (Grus americanus), concentrated in the central United States.

‘Biologists can't say whether the increase in wind farms will cause the collapse of these or other bird species, which already face many threats. But waiting for an answer is not an option, says Smallwood. “By the time we do understand the population-level impacts, we might be in a place we don't want to be.”


Above picture courtesy of the Colectivo Ornitológico Cigüeña Negra (COCN), Cadiz. Source Save The Eagles International

Subramanian also reports that the Spanish Ornithological Society in Madrid estimates that Spain's 18,000 wind turbines may be killing 6 million to 18 million birds and bats annually. [Figures announced at the First Scientific Congress on Wind Energy and Wildlife Conservation in Jerez de la Frontera, [12th Jan 2012]

Griffon vultures and other raptors flying across the Strait of Gibraltar have to negotiate 13 wind farms in Cadiz province. US biologist Marc Bechard was hired to help solve the problems.

‘The early signs’, writes Subramanian ‘are that with targeted efforts, wind power and wildlife can cautiously coexist. Bechard and his colleagues, for example, lowered mortality at the Cádiz wind farms by 50%, with only a 0.07% loss in energy production Others are finding that minor changes in the design or operation of wind farms can bring major reductions in animal deaths.’

See Video; ‘Strait of Gibraltar: over 100 Griffon vultures die yearly’





‘Bird Sensitivity Map to provide locational guidance for onshore wind farms in Scotland’. RSPB Report:June 2006

In 2008, the Scottish government rejected plans for a 181 turbine wind farm on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides on the grounds that it ‘would have had "significant adverse impacts" on rare and endangered birds living on the peatlands – a breach of European habitats legislation.’


Building the turbines and the power distribution infrastructure may be a greater problem for many bird species due to disruption or loss of habitat, according to scientists with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK. Their findings were published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.’ and published on the BBC News website (12th April 2012 under the heading: ‘Wind Farms: ‘Not Major Bird Mincers’.

UPDATE: The Generalist spoke with Graham Meade, one of the RSBP press officers today about wind farms and other bird collision issues. He told me the RSPB are pro renewable energy (they are having a wind turbine installed to power their HQ) but they do watch and assess proposed wind energy projects carefully to determine the potential impact of the development on bird populations and their habitat.

He estimates that they oppose some 6% of the plans. He said they now discuss issues with wind developers at a much earlier stage in the planning process. In fact, when I spoke to him, he was at a conference where they had just been looking at satellite images showing the migration of gannets in connection with a discussion about the siting of wind farms in the North Sea.


The dead adult female on this picture was No. 7 killed in the Smøla wind-farm. Photo © Espen Lie Dahl. Source:


* The wind farm on the Smola islands off the Norwegian coast in Norway consist of 68 wind turbine making it one of the largest wind projects in Europe.

On the 23rd June 2006, the BBC reported that, according to the RSPB, nine white-tailed eagles have been killed on the Smola islands off the Norwegian coast in 10 months, including all of last year's chicks. Chick numbers at the species' former stronghold have plummeted since the wind farm was built, with breeding pairs at the site down from 19 to one.

White-Tailed Eagles are Europe's largest bird of prey. The Smola islands were designated an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International in 1989 because it had one of the highest densities of white-tailed eagles in the world.

The BBC story says that: ‘Norwegian Institute for Nature Research has launched a four-year study at the site to assess the impact of the turbines on various species of birds and the ability of white tailed eagles to adapt to them. Meanwhile, Statkraft, which operates the Smola site, says it is doing everything it can to find a solution to the problem.’

In a 2011 interview with Norwegian ornithologist Alv Ottar Folkestad on the European Raptors Biology and Cionservation website.

Markus Jais: What other threats to White-tailed Eagles do exist in Norway?

Alv Ottar Folkestad: …what to me is a really scaring prospective is the way wind power development has been introduced in this country. The first wind power plant of significant size in Norway, on Smøla, is localized into the most spectacular performance of nesting concentration of White-tailed Eagles ever known. There are plans for making wind power into huge dimensions, and most of them localized in the most pristine coastal landscape of the most important areas of the White-tailed Eagle. During the last five and a half years, the wind power plant on Smøla has been killing 40 white-tailed eagles, 27 of them adult or sub adult birds, and 11 of them during 2010. There are no mitigating measures taken so far, and hardly any to think of, and there is no indication of adaptation among the eagles to such constructions.’

Statkraft claim that the number of birds and the breeding rates on the Smola islands are increasing. See: Sea eagle research at Smøla wind farm (17-6-2010)’

‘Last year, the population was estimated at 65 to 70 pairs, as well as some individual birds, or about 150 sea eagles in total.

“The Smøla sea eagle population has grown steadily since 1997. Last summer, we registered activity in 61 sea eagle territories on the main island and adjacent islets. This is the highest number on record. There is very little nesting inside the actual wind farm area, but the sea eagle reproduction on Smøla is generally increasing,” says senior researcher Kjetil Bevanger at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA).



Bulgaria: Environment Minister Stops 2 Wind Farm Projects in NE Bulgaria
Bulgaria's Minister of Environment and Water has revoked two environmental impact assessments (EIA) issued by a regional inspectorate in the Black Sea city of Varna for the construction of two large wind farms in Dobrudzha.

The decision issued by Nona Karadzhova was triggered by signals of the environmental organizations Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and the Green Balkans, which warned about the dangers resulting from the positioning of the wind farm propellers on bird migration routes.

The stopped investment projects envisage the construction of 150 wind turbines by the General Toshevo company and 95 other wind turbines by the Smin company.

The facilities were to be built in one of the busiest sections of the Via Pontica migration flyway and were dangerously close to protected areas under Natura 2000, according to the environmentalists.

The land plot borders on the Durankulashko Ezero protected site, a natural landmark of European and global importance.

Representatives of environmental organizations insist that the Director of the Varna Regional Inspectorate for Environment Protection made the decision to approve the construction of the wind parks on the basis of misleadingly presented and falsely interpreted biological and ornithological data.

Experts from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) have also opposed the wind park projects.




Wind Energy: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for 1,000 MW wind farms

‘Migratory birds on collision course with wind parks’ by Cam McGrath [Egyptian Independent/29th Dec 2011]

‘Egypt hopes to harness the wind to help meet its soaring demand for energy, but plans to build a network of wind farms near Gebel al-Zeit on the Red Sea coast have rankled avian conservationists. They fear wind turbines positioned at this geographical choke point could injure or kill untold numbers of migratory birds.

“It’s unfortunate, but the area in Egypt with the highest wind speed is also a bottleneck in one of the world’s biggest bird migration routes,” says environmental consultant Mindy Baha al-Din. “If they create a ‘great wall’ of wind turbines near Gebel al-Zeit, as they did at Zafarana further north, thousands of birds could be killed every year.”

The proposed site is ‘a major bottleneck for birds migrating between their breeding grounds in Europe and West Asia and wintering areas in East Africa. More than 1.5 million migratory birds, including several globally threatened species, travel through the area every year. Among them are White Storks, European Honey Buzzards, Lesser Kestrels, Steppe Eagles, and the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis.’

Earlier this year, the paper also reported on a visit to Egypt’s largest wind farm in Zaafarana and Elsewedy Towers, the first wind turbine tower construction site in the Middle East and North Africa. Also on the start of the construction of Africa’s biggest wind farm in northern Kenya on the shores of Lake Turkana.



Two different views over the impact of this wind farm on the endangered Californian condor.

The image shows a history of condor sightings in the habitat occupied by the Tehachapi Pass Wind farm in California. Map courtesy Jim Wiegand . Source; The Examiner

California condors, wind farms on collision course          [The Examiner/30 August 2009]

Condors versus Wind Turbines [Infrascape Design/5 Jan 2012]


Sunday, November 25, 2012


Image of Belly Button

‘Belly Button Beauty Cues Potential Mates’ by Jessica Marshall Source: Discovery News

Rob Dunn and the team at Your Wild Life run a science initiative that explores the biodiversity that lives on us, in us and around us. Their latest project is the Belly Button Initiative to try and discover the microscopic life that lives within our belly buttons.

They began two years ago with 500 volunteers who agreed to twirl a cotton swab in their belly buttons. They published the findings from their first set of analyses based on 60 of these samples.

microscopic photograph of Enterococcus mundtiThey found over 2,300+ species of microbes, the vast majority of which are rare and some completely new to science.

This included one species Rob Dunn found on his own body  called Enterococcus mundti which, says Dunn "is found on me, soybeans, and silk moths. Go figure.’

One participant who said he had not washed in years was one of just two people on which they found not only bacteria but also two species of Archaea

The average belly button hosted 50 or so species but they quickly found that peoples’ belly buttons differed more than they expected in terms of which species live in them. Only eight species – termed ‘oligarchs’ - out of the total so far discovered were present in more than 70% of individuals. As the number of the samples they took increased, they also found conversely that the most infrequent species tended to always be infrequent.

The most frequent species also tended to be the most abundant, accounting for the vast majority of the occurrences and abundance of bacteria in their study. They also tended to come from fewer evolutionary lines.

Rob Dun writes: ‘Overall the species that can be found in our navels seem to come from all over the evolutionary tree of microbes, whereas those that are abundant and frequent are from a narrower subset of lineages, the clans with specific adaptations for the dry, nutrient poor desert that is your body.’


Portraits of belly button oligarchs. Clockwise from top left: Micrococcus, Clostridia, Bacillus, Staphylococcus [Photo by Neil McCoy]

To try and understand why the life in people’s belly buttons differ so much they intend to examine other differences in people’s lives

‘One can imagine many factors that influence which bacteria are on your skin; whether you were born c-section or vaginally, gender, age, weight, whether you are an innie or an outie, whether you live in a city or the country, what climate you live in, whether or not you have a dog, and maybe even where you grew up or where your mother lived when she was pregnant with you.’

Another intriguing aspect of their research came when they discovered that individuals could be grouped into clusters according to the composition of their belly button bacteria. So far none of the variables they have considered  - age, gender, ethnicity etc - explain these groups.

There is still much to discover about belly button life. Rob Dunn believes that ‘the composition of our bacteria may even influence how we date and mate’. 

He also also points out that ‘the same mysteries lurk in ears, noses, eyebrows, toenails and especially armpits.’


‘After 2 years Scientists Still Can’t Solve Belly Button Mystery, Continue Navel-Gazing’ by Rob Dunn. [Scientific American 7th Nov 2012)

Exposing Our Belly Buttons in the Name of Public Science [Your Wild Life]

What’s In Your Belly Button? on

Rob Dunn is the author of ‘The Wild Life of Our Bodies’ and ‘Every Living Thing’

SEE ALSO; Wikipedia entry on the NAVEL

Monday, November 19, 2012



 Ian Sansom © Granta

This is writer Ian Sansom and this is a review of his recently published book ‘Paper:An Elegy’ [Fourth Estate].

By way of introduction, Sansom  has also written a book on babies and the Mobile Library Mystery series, four books so far, featuring Israel Armstrong, a Jewish vegetarian from England who runs a mobile library in Northern Ireland.

In a great essay on Northern Irish writing, he says: ‘I didn’t have the foresight actually to be born in Northern Ireland, [Ed: he was born in Essex] but I have had the good sense to come and live here: love and marriage can take a person to all sorts of unexpected places.’ He studied at both Oxford and Cambridge, currently teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University in Belfast and writes for The Guardian and the London Review of Books. 

His website captures delightfully the spirit of the man: a lover of curiosities, a keen observer of the intricacies and absurdities of everyday life, a great storyteller, a natural humorist and poet. A man whose easy-going self-effacing style masks his deep erudition and his feelings of despair.

The biographical sketch on his website begins: ‘It’s embarrassing, of course, to talk or write about oneself, to show off, to presume that other people might be interested in one’s own sad and wasted life, when clearly other people have sad and wasted lives of their own to be getting on with.


‘Paper: An Elegy’ is a welcome and timely book that is effortlessly intriguing, packed as it is with strange facts, curious stories and unlikely people.The book covers, amongst other things chapters on the history of paper-making, trees, maps, bibliomania, bank notes, advertisement labels, paper and architecture, artists and paper, paper toys, origami, the military and bureaucratic use of paper, and a final chapter that jams together information on paper in film and photography, toilet paper, paper clothes, cigarette papers, paper boats and much more. Its a highly invigorating brew, studded with the author’s personal memories and digressions.


Paper dog by James Vance. Source: Rochembeau blog

Fascinating as all that is, the book covers two themes that are of even greater interest to The Generalist – paper in the digital age and the environmental issues connected with paper production – both of which have been the subject of Previous Posts (see below).

I am old enough to remember the notion of the ‘paperless office’ back in the 1970s alongside the then-discussed topic of the ‘information explosion’.

The current debate is about the ’death of paper' - the death of newspapers and books, the threats to libraries and independent bookshops, the rise of electronic readers and so on.

This book is a useful corrective to some of these notions. As Sansom clearly point out: ‘We live in a paper world. Without paper our lives would be unimaginable…Imagine for a moment that paper were to disappear. Would everything be lost? Everything would be lost.'

‘Paper’, he writes ‘is the ultimate man-made material. It’s cheap, light durable, and be folded and cut and bent and twisted and lacquered and woven and waterproofed so that it can be used in almost every way and for anything.’

The ubiquitousness of paper in all its forms and our addiction to ‘the white stuff’ shows little sign of abating. The average American, for instance, consumes 750lbs of paper every year

In our new digital world we may appear to be moving away from paper but, in fact, our use of these new technologies has increased office paper consumption. According to The Myth of the Paperless Office by Sellen and Harper ‘technological change has not replaced paper use but rather has shifted the point at which paper is used.’ In other words, says Sansom, ‘we distribute and print, rather than print and distribute.’ The average office employee in the West now uses over 10,000 sheets of paper per year he informs us.

[There’s a useful pdf here  of Sellen & Harper’s book which gives a summary and overview of its contents. It says: ‘The phrase ‘paperless office’ is traced to Xerox PARC, although they trace the idea of replacing paper-based methods of working all the way back to the 1800s with Samual Morse’s idea of electronic mail.’ ]

Interestingly Sansom tells us that  Pixar Animation Studios, one of the most advanced digital production studios in the world, still uses paper storyboards and employs 5-15 full-time artists to produce them. They also hold daily life-drawing classes open to all. For the 2005 movie Finding Nemo for example, 45,536 storyboard drawings were produced in total. We also learn that storyboards were first developed by Walt Disney studios in the early 1930s and first used for a live-action film on Gone With the Wind.

Sansom documents the amount and kinds of paper he use in constructing his book, which he tells us, is printed on 100gsm Ferigoni Edizioni Cream, composed of a mix of  hardwood and softwood fibres from eucalyptus, pine and Fagus sylvatica, grown in Austria, France and Brazil and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as being from responsible sources.

A ream of paper is roughly equivalent to 5 per cent of a tree which means, Sansom calculates, that just the notes for the book  consumed one entire tree ‘though that’s not including all the paper books that were read and consumed in its production, nor the paper used for its own printing and publication.’ The gross product cost was ‘probably at least a small copse.’

The environmental cost of paper production is immense. ‘Today’, writes Sansom, ‘almost half of all industrially felled wood is pulped for paper, and according to green campaigners our uncontrollable  appetite for the white stuff has become a threat to the entire blue planet.’

He quotes writer/activist Mandy Haggith: ‘Making a single sheet of A4 paper not only causes as much greenhouse gas emissions as burning a light bulb for an hour, it also uses a mugful of water.’

The paper industry, dominated by a few giant conglomerates – International Paper, Georgia-Pacific, Weyhaeuser and Kimberley-Clark – stands accused of destroying ancient forests and replacing them with monoculture plantations, sustained by chemical fertilisers. Industrial paper making not only consumes trees but also finite resources of water, minerals, metals and fuels.

The cover of Sansom’s thought-provoking book carries an IMPORTANT MESSAGE: ‘Paper is the technology through which and with which we have made sense of the world. The making of paper and the manifold uses of paper have made our civilisation what it is.’ The other important message is that our love of paper products in their multitudinous forms has come at a very high cost.


‘Can Paper Survive the Digital Age?’ is an article Sansom wrote for The Guardian about his book

Sansom’s book reviewed alongside ‘The Missing Ink’ by Philip Hensher – a book on the decline of handwriting – in The Telegraph.



THE END OF PAPER ? [9 Sept 2008]




E.BOOKS1: MICHAEL S. HART [29 Oct 2011]



Paper cutting artists at Manchester Art Gallery: The Judge, Justine Smith

‘Judgement’ by Justine Smith. A pistol constructed of dollar bills

Rob Ryan, Map Of My Entire Life, detail

The Map of My Entire Life by Rob Ryan

THE FIRST CUT is an exhibition of 31 paper cutting artists, which is on show at Manchester Art Gallery until January.

See also:



Ingrid Siliakus is a Dutch paper architect. Paper Architecture is the art of creating an object out of a single piece of paper. She discovered this art by seeing the work of Prof. Masahiro Chatani, a Japanese architect and professor that developed Paper Architecture in the early 1980′s. See more at Dsignarium



Castle on the Ocean was created by Wataru Ito, an origami artist from Japan, who spent four years creating it. This model city is 2.4 meter by 1.8 meter by 1 meter high. It was displayed in 2009 at an exhibition on the artificial island of Umihotaru, near Tokyo. Japan. News reports of the time said that Ito was planning to set fire to it when the exhibition was over. See other extraordinary paper creations on



Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect most famous for his innovative work with paper particularly recycled cardboard paper tubes used to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims.


This community center was built by church volunteers whose house of worship was destroyed by Kobe earthquake in 1995. Materials were donated by a number of companies, and construction was completed in only five weeks by the 160 volunteers. This church was disassembled in June 2005 and all the materials were sent to a city in Taiwan.


This is an artist’s impression of the cardboard cathedral that Shigeru Ban plans to build in Christchurch, New Zealand to replace temporarily the Cathedral which was severely damaged in the 2011 earthquake and is being controversially demolished. It would hold 700 people and was due for completion by February 2013.

Latest news, courtesy of is that ‘Funding for a planned cardboard cathedral could be in jeopardy after a judge ruled that Christ Church Cathedral insurance money could not be used for the project. Anglican leaders had planned to use NZ $4 million of insurance money from Christ Church Cathedral to fund the NZ $5.3m transitional project. But Justice Chisholm ruled on Thursday that the insurance money could be used only for a project on the original Cathedral Square site.

See more of Shigoru Ban’s Paper Tube structures here

See also: ‘Are Cardboard Buildings The Future’ by Steve Rose



Swiss Topographical  map of Grindelwald from the 1930s.

‘When was the last time you held a paper map? I don’t just mean a map printed on paper, I mean one that was designed to be viewed on paper in the first place. The London A to Z would count, so would those in a printed atlas or obtained from a tourist office to navigate an unfamiliar city. Of the hundreds of maps I see each year, I would guess that less than 10% have been designed for printing. This to me is a great shame for a few reasons. Firstly, paper is just better in many circumstances. It is by far the most reliable means of storing navigation information: it doesn’t need batteries or an internet connection (you could say the maps are pre-cached) and you can drop it in a puddle and it will still work. It also offers a nice sized and efficient visual interface- street corners seem to be increasingly populated with those squinting into their phone. If you spot someone with an A-Z they tend to have a quick look at the map and then start looking around to get their bearings.’ See full story at Spatial Analysis.




The Paper Industry and Endangered Forests:  Forests of the world where the paper industry threatens endangered forests and high conservation value ecosystems

This map shows the world’s forests.The circles indicate regions of high paper production from natural forests or controversial plantations (Borealis). Green areas are intact forests;yellow areas indicate other forest areas that contain endangered forests.

A: Finnish and northeast Russian old-growth forests,Sami people’s forests; B: Siberian and Russian Far East; C: Indonesian rainforest; D: Tasmanian temperate rainforest; E: Chilean temperate rain-forests; F: Industrial plantations,southern and eastern Brazil,Uruguay and northern Argentina; G: Southern United States native hardwood forests; H: Canadian boreal forest; I: U.S.and Canadian inland temperate rainforest and coastal rainforest.


Source: The State of the Paper Industry/Environmental Paper Network (2007)


In 2009, China surpassed North America in total paper consumption for the first time.

Between 2002 and 2009, exports of recovered paper from the U.S to China have tripled, making waste paper one of the largest US exports.

The average North American consumed 154 lbs (70 kgs) less paper in 2009 than in 2005, an amount equal to 15,000 sheets of copy paper, or a stack almost six and a half feet high.

The annual volume of paper trashed in U.S. landfills decreased by 16 million tons from 2005 to a new total of 26 million tons in 2009.  

STATE OF THE PAPER INDUSTRY: TOP TEN INDICATORS {2011] / Environmental Paper Network


Eucalyptus forest in Thailand, plats for paper industry Stock Photo - 13940614

Plantation forest in Thailand for paper production. Source:


Founded in 2001, Green Press Initiative (GPI) is a non-profit program which takes a collaborative approach towards working with publishers, printers, paper manufacturers and others in the book and newspaper industries to minimize social and environmental impacts, including impacts on endangered forests, impacts on climate change, and impacts on communities where paper fiber is sourced.

What are the impacts of the paper industry and books/newspapers?
The entire paper industry, when accounting for forest carbon loss, emits nearly 750 million tons of C02 equivalent annually – nearly 10% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of over 136 million cars. The U.S. book and newspaper industries combined require the harvest of 125 million trees each year and emit over 40 million metric tons of CO2 annually; equivalent to the annual CO2 emmissions of 7.3 million cars.

Impacts on Endangered Forests:
Each year the U.S book industry uses approximately 30 million trees, and the U.S. newspaper industry consumes 95 million trees. Many of these trees are from old growth and endangered forests, and the demand for paper is encouraging the practice of converting natural forests into single species tree plantations that support only a fraction of the biodiversity.

Impacts on Climate Change
The paper industry is the fourth largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and books and newspapers release greenhouse gases thought their lifecycles. Globally, scientist estimate that deforestation is responsible for 25%  of human caused greenhouse gases.

When trees are cut to make paper, not only do they cease to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, but greenhouse gases are released to the atmosphere when plant material not used makes paper decays or is burned as a source of power at the mill. As a result of these emissions and those associated with soil disturbances at the site of harvest, even if  trees are replanted, it can take up to 25 years for a newly planted forest to stop being a net emitter of greenhouse gases, and hundreds of years before they store the same amount of carbon as an undisturbed forest.

GPI worked to complete the first ever Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts report for the U.S. book industry. It was the first comprehensive carbon footprint analysis of a publishing sector and is being used as a model in other paper sectors.  This assessment found that the entire book industry, through all steps of production, retail, and publishing activities, emits a net 8.85 pounds per book.

Impacts on Communities
In Canada, Indonesia, Brazil and many other countries throughout the world, people who rely on forests for their livelihood have been severely impacted by the paper industry.  From the destruction of forests needed to survive to some being forced from their land, the paper industry has disrupted the way of life for these communities.

What is the Book Industry Treatise on Environmentally Responsible Publishing?
The Book Industry Treatise on Environmentally Responsible Publishing is an industry-developed declaration of meaningful environmental goals and timelines for industry transformation. It spurred the adoption of environmental paper policies with nearly 200 publishers and printers, following the guidelines in the Treatise

What are the benefits of recycled paper?
Each ton of recycled fiber that replaces a ton of virgin fiber saves 17-24 mature trees and up to 7.5 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. 
Also, recycling keeps paper out of landfills, which at current levels makes up 26% of landfills. The degradation produces methane a greenhouse gas with 23 times the heat trapping capacity of carbon dioxide and landfills are the source of 34% of methane releases—the single largest source in the U.S.

What are the benefits of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified papers?
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper ensures that the fiber to make paper does not originate from Endangered Forests or areas of social conflict. They work to keep natural and biodiverse forests from being converted to single-species tree farms after harvest and integrate the concerns of indigenous and local communities into forest plans and assessments.

What progress has been achieved in recent years?
GPI’s consistent education and advocacy work have also spurred the development of environmental paper policies from over 180 book publishers – approximately 42% of market-share in the U.S. book sector. This has resulted in a six fold increase in recycled fiber use-- representative of a reduction of over approximately 1.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to over 250,000 cars/yr) and nearly 3 million trees per year
We’ve helped to advance the development of nearly 30 new eco-paper grades, including recycled, postconsumer recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) fiber content and supported a cut in price premiums by 50%, and there are now 31 U.S. and Canadian printers serving U.S. publishers are now stocking environmental grades in-house.



Source: Paper Industry Technical Association


Historically pulp and paper production has ranked among the most resource-intensive and highly polluting of all manufacturing industries. Besides fibre, the primary inputs into the paper making process are water, energy and chemicals.

In the United States, the paper industry is the largest user per tonne of product of industrial process water (U.S. EPA 2002) and the third largest industrial consumer of energy (U.S. DOE). Also, papermaking is a very chemically intensive process. The pulp and paper industry ranks fourth among industrial sectors in emissions of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals to water, and third in such releases to air.

Paper’s impact on the environment continues even after it has been thrown away. As at early 2008 in the United States, paper and paperboard accounted for the largest portion (34 percent) of the municipal waste stream, and 25 percent of landfill waste after recovery of materials for recycling and composting.

Once in a landfill, paper has the potential to decompose and produce methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide (UNEP).

Finally, transportation throughout the system also has significant environmental impacts. Harvested trees or recovered paper are transported to pulp mills, rolls of paper are transported to converters, and finished paper products are transported to wholesale distributors and then on to their retail point of sale. Transportation at each of these stages consumes energy and results in greenhouse gas emissions.

SOURCE: ‘The role of e-billing in reducing the environmental impacts of paper consumption’ Planet Ark Report. 2008.





Close-up of an "unphotocopied" sheet of paper A close-up image of a sheet of "unphotocopied" paper reveals most of the toner has been removed.  

MARCH 2012: A process to "unphotocopy" toner ink from paper has been developed by engineers at the University of Cambridge. The process involves using short laser pulses to erase words and images by heating the printed material to the point that they vaporise. The researchers say it works with commonly used papers and toner inks and is more eco-friendly than recycling. See full story here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012



It gives me great pleasure to announce that I’m promoting a rare gig by one of the cult bands of the 1960s – The Deviants, led by Mick Farren – novelist, NME music journalist and a leading figure in the British Underground with the White Panthers and as one-time editor of International Times.

The current five- piece line-up features original members Duncan ‘Sandy’ Sanderson (bass) and Russell Hunter (drums) – who also played with the Pink Fairies – with long-time collaborator Andy Colquhoun (guitar) and Jaki Windmill (percussion). Support is provided by my band BOHO + special guests + light show + DJ. Here’s a chance to dust off your 60’s wardrobe and party like its 1969.


Mick is as busy as ever and when I saw him a week or so back he gave me his two latest publications:

‘Black Dogs Circled’ is a book of poems and short fiction published by Sea Urchin Editions in Rotterdam. Love Mick’s author photo (left) and short bio:

‘Mick Farren  was born on a wet night at the end of World War II and has been complaining ever since. His life has been divided between music, literature, psychedelic agitprop and staying out of jail. He still fronts the anarchic pre-punk Deviants and his lyrics have been recorded by Metallica, Motorhead, Hawkwind, Brother Wayne Kramer, and the Pink Fairies. He has published twenty-two novels from the psychedelic fantasy of The DNA Cowboy Trilogy, to the neo-gothic Renquist Quartet. His non-fiction work music, drugs, conspiracy theories and include The Black Leather Jacket, The CIA Files, and the autobiographic Give The Anarchist A Cigarette.’


Road Movie (published by Penny-Ante Editions in Los Angeles is an anthology of short and short short fictive stories and dialogues which provides a good showcase of the various worlds Mick’s imagination inhabits - places where bad things generally happen, places where characters like Huxley Hahn and Lucinda Laveau tangle with bad characters in bad bars. Where mugworms lurk and strange pharmaceuticals are ingested in cork-lined rooms. Violence and death are constant companions in these frontier lands in our own and other universes. The dialogue is hard-boiled and the women wear leather and fur. What’s not to like!

Coming in the spring is what sounds like a great anthology of Mick’s journalism from HeadPress + other stuff.



A review of Speed-Speed-Speedfreak: A Fast History of Amphetamine

The Underground Press Gazette




Mick’s excellent autobiography [Pimlico] and Keep It Together -Rich Deakin’s history of the Deviants & Pink Fairies [HeadPress]


Mick Farren and The Deviants on Alive Records

Mick’s blog: DOC 40

Mick’s website: Funtopia