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: I don't believe there is a "silver bullet" for the problem of renewable/nonrenewable resources. My grandmother always said, "Moderation, moderation, moderation!" In order to reduce the amount of petroleum being drilled out of the Earth there will need to be a dramatic shift in how the masses think. And not all renewable energy sources are created equal. While solar could do really well in certain parts of the world it could fail in others. Same with geothermal, which is probably the most undervalued renewable resource we have. In Iceland almost 90% of their heat and hot water demand is supplied by geothermal heating. Here in Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls is run on geothermal power. I think that cutting out all oil will be nearly impossible, but changing our usage to include renewables is the way to go. If solar panels work in your area, build in solar, if wind turbines work better, put up some turbines. Maybe some farmers could lease out the land they are now being paid to grow corn on and grow energy with turbines and solar panels. This will not happen though until people start to realize how dependent we are on oil, and that they will need to change their daily habits to accommodate renewable resources.
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      Apr 24 2013: This is definitely a smart direction to head towards. Harvesting energy based on abundance and ease of access makes the most sense.
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      Apr 24 2013: That's why corn price went up! Many countries depend on corn to feed people due to its decent price. However, using corn for biofuel, massive demands, raises its price which result in hunger in many countries. It is ridiculous!
    • Apr 24 2013: geothermal can be made 100% underground and have 0 impact. Only reason it emits co2 is because we do not use a closed loop system. Geothermal is by far the best answer and if used properly could be used to improve nature not impact it ... the only question is what are we willing to pay for the right answer.. or how hard are we willing to work at it.. the reality is our children will pay either way it's weather they pay in hard work or a degraded environment period
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      Apr 24 2013: You brought up a good point about using the energy sources that are the most abundant in your area. There are renewable forms of energy all around us but we tend to use the more known and established energy sources like coal, gasoline, and other non-renewable hydrocarbons. By using the energy sources that are nearest to large populations the energy spent on transporting the established energy sources can be cut down dramatically. If we can use varying amounts of local renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal the environmental impact of transporting energy can be nearly cut out.

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