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 24 2013: When looking at renewable forms of energy we have to realize that they're all going to have some negative effects. With Solar energy, manufacturing plants are producing extremely toxic silicon tetrachloride which makes the soil too acidic for plants, causes severe irritation to living tissues, and is highly toxic when ingested or inhaled. With wind you have habitat destruction from setting them up. They also kill lots of birds. Bio-fuels still have carbon emissions and they destroy habitats to create agricultural areas to grow bio-fields. Tidal generators initially destroy habitats. Each one will have some kind negative effect and so, what it really comes down to is what things are we willing to sacrifice or give up. Different people are going to rank certain things more important than others. Some people want to save the birds, others the fish etc. So yes, we can try to rank renewable forms of energy and their potential impacts but who gets to ultimately decide what is most important and most reasonable to sacrifice?

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