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Noel Laporte

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What form of renewable energy has or will have the lowest impact on biodiversity?

Climate change, air pollution, rising sea levels and species extinction can all be attributed to the increasing usage of non-renewable energy in the world today. Non-renewable energy reserves are diminishing and finite with an ever-increasing demand from countries around the world. Coal, natural gas and oil all have detrimental effects on the environment. These effects are both local and global, harming species throughout the world. As we consider different renewable forms of energy, can we rank their potential impacts on biodiversity?


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  • Apr 23 2013: Thorium isn't renewable. But yes, something like a sub critical traveling wave reactor is ideal and can be made from existing radioactive waste.
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      Apr 23 2013: guess what, the sun is not renewable either.
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        Apr 23 2013: We do not consume the sun the same way we consume oil. When the sun burns out, life on Earth may very well cease. This inevitability, to you, is what? Some sort of axiom that says, "Since the sun's not renewable, RENEWABLE ENERGY IS DUMB!" The sun is not renewable. You are right there. And when it burns out, we will die (if we're still on Earth, that is.) What are your suggested implications?
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          Apr 23 2013: so this is what they call moving goalpost? so we are talking about what is renewable and what is not. i claim that nothing is. then you say but it is not important what is renewable. i agree, it is not important. that is my point. his point was that is something important. i tried to draw attention to the fact that it is totally meaningless concept. renewable or not bears the same relevance as starting with letter T or not. it is the same buzzword as "organic" for food. it is pure marketing, and you guys fell for it.
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          Apr 23 2013: We aren't worried about the sun going out, because our species will likely be extinct by that point in time. The sun is likely to go out in about 5 billion years and it doesn't put CO2 into our atmosphere, so we needn't worry about it. Fossil fuels are dumping CO2 into our atmosphere and it isn't like to stop anytime soon, unless we find a source that doesn't. We look to "renewable sources" because we need a source that has a long shelf life, like fossil fuels have had.
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        Apr 23 2013: Sure it is, God just has to make another one! :-) he looks after us every day, why not do this too?

        God bless

        - Todd C.
      • Apr 23 2013: Krisztian, would assigning a different name to extraterrestrial energy sources make you happier? Something less marketable perhaps?
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          Apr 23 2013: assigning names never make me happier. i'm an engineer. i'm interested in concepts, and how they work. for all i care, a resource that runs out 1000 years from now is just as good as a resource that runs out a billion years from now. we have plenty of time to find a replacement.
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        Apr 24 2013: Thorium is not "renewable" but is 4 times more abundant on the surface of the earth than Uranium and over 550 times more abundant than the U-235 currently used.

      • Apr 24 2013: Ah! I took you for a pessimist for a moment there. I do think a 1000 years is a bit too optimistic though. We are so reliant on fossil fuels not just for energy but for many essential modern materials too, that we are likely to encounter serious ecological, economic and political problems because of depleting oil reserves long before oil actually runs out. I'm a physicist and I think the time really is now. I am very optimistic about technological solutions to oil problem but I have no illusions about continuing with business as usual even if we were to replace every Joule of energy we use now with new, renewable or clean sources. I don't even think that technology is our greatest challenge in that respect. Changing cultures and mentalities away from consumerism and growth on a global scale will be the highest hurdle. As far as I know we haven't even scratched the surface in that filed despite many valiant efforts. How do you curb economic growth while at the same time ensure and accelerate technological progress?? Redefine growth? That's going to be a tough sell to the overwhelming majority.
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          Apr 24 2013: and who talks about fossils? this thread is about thorium. i personally want "consumerism" and i want to base it on some abundant and cheap energy. like nuclear. but anything goes really, if it is cheap, abundant and does not destroy us as fossils inevitably do sooner or later.
      • Apr 24 2013: Nope, this thread is about which form of RENEWABLE energy will have the lowest impact on biodiversity. The problem is that, irrelevant of what the energy source is, unless curbed humanity will continue to grow and to consume ever larger portions of the ecosystem and in doing so wiping out biodiversity as it goes. Energy source is not the problem, humanity's growth psychosis is. But I see this isn't really your thing.

        Good luck mate.

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          Apr 24 2013: yep, this thread is about thorium, you can check it yourself by re-reading jason hihn's original statement.

          your prediction about how mankind will progress is ... arbitrary at least. it is very much possible to grow and leave the ecosystem alive.

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