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The key word in the debate about birds, wind, oil and energy is neither birds, wind, oil nor energy.

The key word is externalities, a technical but useful term from economics.

“An externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit,” as Wikipedia describes. A homeowner’s flower garden creates positive externalities — namely, good feelings among passersby and higher property values for the neighbors.

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