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Is Renewable Energy the Biggest Threat to Land Conservation?

renewableconservationI'm a conservationist. I was a conservationist before I was an EcoGeek. There is very little land on earth left in a sem-natural state, and I believe that we should keep as much of that land as natural as possible forever. Unfortunately, that belief does sometimes collide with my belief that we need to increase renewable energy production as fast as possible. The Nature Conservancy estimates that renewable energy will occupy some 73,000 square miles of land by 2030, meaning that renewable energy could be the biggest threat to land conservation in America. The only thing that comes even close is real estate development.

Renewable energy has a leg up on real estate though, because renewable energy projects can be sourced on public lands fairly easily. And these public lands are the very lands that are the only untouched areas of canada meds America we have left.

And, of course, this discussion ranges beyond individual projects. A wind power project might be built in the middle of a corn field, but in order to get the power form the corn field to a big city, transmission lines have to be built, and often built through prime wildlife habitat. It's starting to seem like land conservation is the cialis fedex overnight shipping biggest threat to renewable energy as well as vice versa.

So where do we come down?

Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the 40 year old NEPA process provides a structure for determining the environmental impact of a project on public lands, taking public comments on those projects, and determining whether the project should go forward. Despite some outcry, this process has served America surprisingly well over the last 40 years.

The bad news is that the NEPA process is not what you would call perfect. It can be an extremely long, drawn out process, and if there are significant concerns, it can be held up in court for years. Additionally, as the number of renewable energy projects increase, the staff working these environmental assessments (already strained) will start backlogging projects as we've already seen in many areas of the country.

Renewable energy and conservation both require vast areas of land to be effective, so they are always going to viagra sale fast shipping be somewhat at odds. There is no way to avoid this conflict or claim that one always needs to take precedence over the other. It's going to be frustrating to have to watch pristine land get developed, and renewable energy projects get cancelled, but through my experiences in the environmental field, I actually believe we're going to handle this fairly well. Let's hope I'm right.

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Not really
written by Bonzi, October 05, 2009
Have you seen the buy tramadol ultram devastation that coal mining has done? If you haven't then you are really uninformed. Entire mountain tops have been lopped off, leaving streams and lakes filled with mercury and poisons.

Is that better than having some mirrors or panels sitting out?

The thing is, most people could satisfy their electric needs with panels on their roofs. You don't need acres of land to produce it. I live in a cold northern city and I have panels on my house. It's adequate.

So no, renewable energy is not a bigger threat than coal or oil.
solar energy will cause global warming, Low-rated comment [Show]
Solar Energy WIll Not Cause Global Warming
written by hank, October 05, 2009
@John - I'm sure that was a fun comment to write, but I just want to make it clear that there's no truth in what you're saying. Global warming is an atmospheric effect, you're talking about albedo, which is a much less significant (and in the quantities that we're talking about with solar farms entirely insignificant) addition to the heat for our planet, which is a much MUCH larger system than you seem to think it is.
Coal Mining vs. Solar
written by hank, October 05, 2009
Yes...a coal mine is a bigger environmental threat than a solar power plant of the same size. Solar panels can be removed, MTR mining is forever.

But we're not talking about switching one for the other. If we were, absolutely, I'd say screw the high planes and desert scrub. But we're not, we're saying "in addition to MTR mining, there is another threat to conservation."

You can't just say "It's not as bad as..." and call your argument done...if that were the case, I could kill songbirds for fun because it's "not as bad as" killing people.
Problem Solver
written by Ryan, October 05, 2009
Lets just build these large solar arrays on top of large are houses or any house. Let you home be its own power plant. Save nature and the atmosphere.
written by Anthony, October 05, 2009
I think that we all need to be more open to solar energy. Go Green!!
Distributed Solar vs. solar 'farms'
written by Solar Guy, October 05, 2009
Distributed solar power is the way to go. We lose anywhere up to 50% of the energy produced just getting it from the site of buy real levitra online without prescription production to the point of use.

Solar on the soft cialis tablets rooftop delivers close to 100% of the generated energy (our 3.42kW system yesterday was outputting 3.5 kW of electricity as it was a COLD clear day.) Even with line losses and click here cialis samples in canada inverter inefficiency figured in, you deliver 95% of the power. Solar farms will be owned by the utilities who just LOVE having you addicted to their monthly billings. Solar on your own home/business/school/factory or property are owned and controlled by YOU. At the same time as you deliver more power to your home, you also REDUCE the load on the national grid system, saving billions on infrastructure costs. Energy conservation & efficiency combined with local (distributed) solar and wind are much better answers IMHO.
written by steve, October 06, 2009
Well Todd you are a lot more optimistic about everyone getting this worked out than I am. Until we truly start making people responsible for frivolous lawsuits it is pretty easy to basically make a project too expensive to build.
Ok I have no idea of where the 73,000 sq miles comes from but I would guess that there is not a snowballs chance in you know what of that happening. A company called Ausra figured it could supply the whole United States, day and night, with less than 10,000 sq miles of solar thermal. They may be a little optimistic here but we will not be entirely running our nation with renewable in 20 years. In wind projects at least not all of the land is destroyed for wildlife. Putting solar on rooftops is great but until we come up with large scale energy storage it will only ever be a tiny part of the total. Same goes for wind or Stirling Dishes.
Now one of my pet peeves is the use of the word "pristine" to describe the desert. It seems to be every environmental writer’s catch phrase right now. I have spent a lot of time in the desert. I operated two of the largest solar plants for over five years. Very little of it is actually "pristine" and there is a huge amount of it out there. We are not going to glass over the desert. I had to laugh at one of the websites I was looking at the other day. It was trying to stop Brightsource’s project near Primm Nevada. It was talking about all the "pristine" land it was going to take up and even had photos. The problem is you could see they had to go out of their way to not show the getting cialis from canada large golf course right next to the project, the large casinos just right down the road, the large power plant that is close or the large power lines running nearby.
Really there are a lot of problems facing renewables right now but land use ought to be one of the more minor ones.
Conserve energy as well as land
written by Mike, October 06, 2009
Hank, I'm with you. Conserve the land. Also, conserve the energy. People need to reduce their energy footprints more than we need new power generation. The need for more power generation and land is fueled by population growth, so unless we stem that, we're going to be SOL sooner or later anyway.

Until we discover working fusion reactors and space travel, that is.
Bear in mind that for long haul ...
written by BruceMcF, October 06, 2009
... HVDC point-to-point transmission to connect electricity surplus grids to electricity consuming grids, transmission losses are low enough per mile to permit strategies like running in the airspace of rail corridors.

The point made here would seem to be yet another reason to support the STRACNET Electrification project with long haul electrical transmission integrated into the project design, where the ability to share infrastructure offsets the buy cheap online levitra slightly longer transmission paths.
Most land is still in a "semi-natural" state.
written by Preston L. Bannister, October 06, 2009
Populations all over the world live in great clumps. Pull up Google Maps and purchase of indian fda levitra click on a random bit of viagra store land. Zoom down to a square mile. Most of the time, there is no one there. Even densely populated China has vast wastes where humans are scarce.

Finding space for solar farms (and the like) is not a problem. With a little care, the impact of the small portion used can be minimal.

No reason for solar or wind farms to be a "threat".
written by Crimson Conservative, October 06, 2009
Hank, excellent, thoughtful post. I actually used it in a link in one of my own posts. I don't think conservation or renewable energy is necessarily a zero-sum equation. Like so many other propositions in this life, it's a balancing act. I absolutely believe conservation, and a greater focus on efficiency, both in our lifestyles, as well as manufacturing and product usage, is essential. But it won't be an overnight transformation. Hopefully we can start moving in that direction, step-by-step.
written by bill, October 06, 2009
Having spent hours and hours driving through these areas in the Southwestern United States there is no chance in hell solar panels will ever cover more than a small percentage of this vast area.
Nuclear and hot rock geothermal is the way to go
written by Wyatt, October 06, 2009
Nuclear power generation makes more sense than a massive proliferation of solar collectors, wind farms etc.

If every man and his dog is going to have solar collectors on their roofs then we are looking at significant environmental damage in their manufacture. Silicon refining and doping is not a clean process.

Nuclear energy is highly concentrated is thermodynamically efficient and has a small environmental footprint.

Nuclear waste can be managed, but it must not be allowed to be managed by commercial enterprise because commercial enterprises are not intrinsically trustworthy because a corporation is ultimately responsible to its shareholders.

this is so depressing
written by Jay Tee, October 06, 2009
Liberals: creating new headaches every day......
written by Bucket Truck, October 06, 2009
If we just sit and do nothing then there will be no landsmilies/angry.gif
Energy Conservation
written by Patrick, October 06, 2009
This is a difficult topic to discuss because both renewable energy and maintaining our precious lands are important to us. For us as energy consumers, it's important that we reduce our consumption of energy to reduce it's demand. That means less energy is required and less land affected by being built upon.
written by Niall, October 06, 2009
I think you need to ask yourself what good are all the pristine lands in the world if you have not the means(fuel) to get there nor the energy to beam these images into your tv. Human emotion is overtaking the survival instinct as we have had it too good for too long.
Hank - solar will not contribute to global warming
written by john, October 07, 2009
that would seem very odd since our secretary of energy seems to think that white roofs would help alleviate global warming. solar at the scale needed to power our country and the world would indeed add to global warming in a material and significant way.

not to mention the damn things require enormous subsidies and are uneconomical. go wind, geothermal, or some other more economical source...
government in energy
written by john, October 07, 2009
live by the sword, die by the sword. solar wouldn't exist without massive government subsidies. low and behold, stupid government regulation prevents solar from happening on a large scale. government IS the problem. let the free market reign....

go read Atlas Shrugged....
written by Peter, October 07, 2009
How about using "low quality" lands, such as abandoned/unused farmland?.. like what E-solar has done.
written by someone, October 08, 2009
I'm not sure about what the impact of the production of solar panels is but I'm a believer in the "every man for himself" strategy. The more homes that throw solar panels on their roofs will help the how to get cialis in canada grid for sure. And why not add to schools? Their not in use 3 months out of the year for the most part! I wonder what would happen if all the police stations, fire stations and hospitals (leave room for the heli-pad of price levitra course) put some panels on their roofs. And as for covering too much land. I've spent quite a bit of time in the Las Vegas area. Sure the city is huge, but go ten miles out during the day and it's just haze and online viagra purchasing weeds. I think it's beautiful but there's a LOT of it. Plus most of it is government owned anyway and off limits. Why not put that land to some use besides teasing the UFO watchers? And just like everything else, when the consumers buy massive amounts of product then the producers will find ways to make the consumer happy. More R&D for consumers based solar/eco friendly energy is bound to be an affect. I think the online viagra fast only losers here are the energy companies. The old men at PG&E probably have nightmares about every home in California being it's own energy provider!
written by steve, October 09, 2009
I am a believer in the every man for himself strategy too but this is far from it. Yes solar panels do help the grid somewhat because they do tend to produce the most power during the day when it is needed most. They do have a small problem that they start to rapidly lose production about the same time in the summer when everyone is coming home and turning on the AC. The problem is for the system to work you need that big bad electric utility to supply you electricity at night or on cloudy days. You also need the rest of us who do not own solar to help pay your costs to make it cost effective. Not only to help pay for the panels but to maintain the grid. I think most people forget that electricity is not stored. There may be a few off grid systems that use batteries but they are very expensive and in the minority. Believe me PG&E is not worried about all of this.
Immigration drives the increase in population.
written by Delmar Jackson, October 09, 2009
Immigration drives the increase in population. The increase in population drives the ever growing need for more of everything.
The Sierra Club got paid 100 million dollars via a donation that stipulated they no longer talk about population growth.
In the last 40 years our country grew from 200 to 300 million, mostly via immigration. How much carbon emmission is made by 100 million Americans? We will grow to 500 million in a few decades.

No one talks about it, but less immigration and a serious debate on the challenges and benefits of having a stable population would benefit Americans. The ones that don't want the debate are those that benefit from massive immigration and prefer the status quo of smearing all those ethat want less immigration.

If there are benefits from massive immigration and the diversity and Multiculturalism that comes with it, are there side effects and tramadol mail are we allowed to talk about them?
@Delmar - Population growth
written by Fogor, October 10, 2009
Delmar, you are on the money when bringing up the issue of just try! how to get levitra overpopulation.

The Chinese people know this, and that is why they are working on genetic biological controls right now. The Chinese are believed to have perfected a bio-control which targets the unique genetic signature of Caucasians, in order to deliver a fast acting humanicide.

It is widely believed that by removing 70% of the Caucasians from the planet, global warming and other environmental problems can be reversed quickly enough to save the planet.
written by Alex, October 12, 2009
"The Chinese people know this, and that is why they are working on genetic biological controls right now. The Chinese are believed to have perfected a bio-control which targets the unique genetic signature of Caucasians, in order to deliver a fast acting humanicide."

-Source? I'd really like to know where you got that information from.
written by Margaret Greene, October 15, 2009
This is a thought-provoking topic. Hopefully we will develop increasingly efficient energy materials and also become much more aware of our passive consumption of energy so that we can limit our usage. One point about both transmissions and land is that energy developed at the site of use reduces transmission loss and generation requirements. And frankly we are avoiding the biggest wild card of all: human reproduction. Population will become increasingly critical as biological advances prolong life expectancy. On one hand long life permits greater expertise and on the other hand, it prolongs mental bias that can delay advancement. Nothing is easy.
human reproduction
written by someone, October 15, 2009
Ahh another topic stemming from this one. The scary thing is that every time when there is overpopulation in society, something happens. Hell in the 1600's it happened twice. First the Plague hit Europe taking out 3/4 of the population and then the most populated city, London, burned almost to the grown in 1666. Whether it's plauges or wars (see the 100 years war in the 1500's for the Germanic areas), the above mentioned plague outbreak, the pandemic of 1918 and the wars in the early 20th century. I'm not saying that nature is out to get us with plagues or it's God, but it seems like whenever there is overpopulation that either man acts stupid (wars for more land and how to obtain viagra samples such) or the disease that rises from too many people in small places. Just a thought.
Keep local, keep efficient
written by keith, October 21, 2009
I have to agree with some of the previous comments; large remote solar power generation facilities is not really going to make that much of a difference. In my mind we need to be attacking this problem on several fronts in order.

First: Find ways to reduce the viagra brand 'gross' power consumption. Established techniques like Passive Solar, Thermal Mass, etc do work at reducing the heating/cooling costs for homes and businesses. Takes a bit of design (or rather some think common sense) but once done it works. Also look at solar water heating, insulation, etc.

Second: Find ways to reduce the 'base' power consumption. More efficient appliances, phantom power, etc.

Then once you have done this, then look at alternative power generation and start at home - i.e. solar panels on your roof. But be very aware the current generation of cells max out at around 19% efficiency I think - so room for improvement.

Basically the maximum environmental benefit to be gained is to not consume the power in the first place.

BTW I have several articles on energy efficiency and how to do it on .
Reply Baily
written by someone, October 26, 2009
Dude I've picked that up from many sources. The 100 years wars in Germany ravaged the entire of buy fioricet middle Europe and displaced millions. I say displaced because I'm not sure how many were killed but I know that entire cities were slaughtered. It's common knowledge about the Plauge that devastated all of Europe and then the fire hit London in 1666. Because of that fire the city had to be largly rebuilt using new materials. I read somewhere that some people beleive that the fire helped the i recommend buy levitra 50 mg health of the city by burning away some of the filth . . . I'll have to look for that source again but with as much as I read it might take forever lol. The pandemic of 1918 is easy to find now that H1N1 has hit. It took out more people than WWI did and was spread in the war itself.
written by Mark, November 02, 2009
Finally, someone else has noticed that these renewable energy mega-projects will have huge impacts. The city perception is that remote desert sites are expendable wastelands but they just don't understand- deserts are dynamic but delicate functioning ecosystems just as valuable for life as rainforests or coral reefs. I face this all the time in central australia- city people all either want to 'green the desert' with our non-renewable underground fossil water supply (which always leads to salty soils in these climates) or they want to cover the outback in solar panels. Why can't they just deal with their own mess in their own backyards?!?
Owner / Manager
written by SEO Company in Joplin, MO, February 08, 2011
Cool article. I don't necessarily agree that renewable energy is legitimate threat to land conservation. Eventually, we will build a much more efficient way of harnessing energy (either solar, wind, or water). Although with growing demands for energy, technology will have to adapt quickly... I will grant you that much.
written by used bucket trucks, November 10, 2011
Rarely do I ever think that renewable energy would be a threat to anything but there HAS to be a drawback. Yes, renewable energy methods of modern times can pose a threat to land conservation but think about how big of a threat non-renewable energy poses to land conservation. There will be no humans without a concerted effort toward alternative/renewable energy... maybe that would be a good thing, as a human, I don't think it is.

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