TED Conversations

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: Krisztián, a word of advice. Be a little nicer, friend! The sun is not renewable. I think that's common sense. Distinctions are important here. In the context of Earth, it's fair to call solar energy renewable, because for at least a few more BILLION YEARS, the supply of solar energy flowing through the atmosphere WILL BE boundless. And humans can, with current technology, do nothing to stop this.

    I understand what you're saying, but you've got to remember what language is for. It's for helping others understand. I think when we talk about renewables vs. nonrenewables we're talking about a very important energy issue. And when you say the sun is nonrenewable, that's true. I would say that the sea is nonrenewable, too. We only have one sea. Yet it seems silly to call wavepower nonrenewable, and even sillier to say that about solar. You've made quite a hoity-toity, inconsequential, academic, devil's-advocate, smart alec sort of argument that is big on logic and small on humanity. I'd advise a revision of your attitude concerning debate.
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      Apr 23 2013: if we were talking about very important energy issues, we would have settled with nuclear already, with all its real and alleged dangers. but no, we are not talking about that at all. we are rich and careless enough to pursue the romantic vision of renewables.
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        Apr 23 2013: I'm sorry, but you're being quit childish. I understand you feel that you have much clout on this website, but that does not mean that you can make claims and have them be true. Here are some assertions you've just made. One is that we are NOT talking about important energy issues. That is beyond asinine. The US consumes 25% of the world's oil, and most of that is imported. The price of oil is rising. The price of coal has just about doubled. We may not be talking about your preferred solution, nuclear, but honestly, man, I'm sorry, but to say we're not talking about important energy issues is baseline stupid.

        Secondly, you presented your opinion on a longstanding energy debate as indisputable fact. You said, "Uuuh, yeah -- duh everyone -- nuclear's the way to go. Anyone SMART knows that." There are lots of problems with nuclear. I'm not going to rule it out, because only time will tell. This is a civilized debate. But Fukushima, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were all the result of operator error. In nuclear, the only way to reduce "operator error" is automation. And robots fail. The risks of nuclear energy are simply too high. Not to mention that there is no risk-free way to mine or store radioactive material. And the thing, for me, is the radioactivity itself. Exposure to radioactive materials is incredibly harmful.

        Third, you called our "vision of renewables" "romantic." Please, with the fossil fuel industry receiving $775 billion in subsidies, I'd love to see this "romantic vision" you speak of. Until markets internalize externalities, the world economy will remain in disarray.

        Lastly, you said, "we" are "rich and careless." Who is we? The US? The world? G20 nations? And who is rich? Who is careless?

        It's best to avoid generalizations in a debate like this.
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          Apr 24 2013: thank you for providing evidence for my position. your exposition here is in no way factual or about our energy problems. just skim through it again, and watch, sentence by sentence, when you are talking about energy and climate, and what parts are emotionally loaded. when you talk about nuclear, you simply list events that were or were presented as terrible accidents. (and in fact one of them actually was, the others were handled just fine.) without exploring into any details or statistics. by the same token i could argue against flight in general citing the hindenburg. later you talk about we need to support renewables because the fossil industry gets subsidies (!?). is this a reasonable argument? we could also support homeopathy because big pharmas get subsidy. of support prana eating because farmers gets subsidy.

          this is the debate you can have today. tribal thinking, romantic images of white, slowly turning wind turbines with smiling birds, plutonium clouds on the sky, and natural disasters wiping out mankind within ten years. how did you put it? asinine.

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