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: Global warming, species loss and habitat loss have all resulted largely in part of human behavior. With all of our efforts to redo the damage we've created in some regions and populations I worry that within new pursuits of alternatives we will lend up doing harm for our future generation's environment. There are pro's and con's to almost every form of energy so as we inspect new forms of energy we need to consider what will do the least harm today, tomorrow, and in the future. Like anything it will be hard to "rank" the potential impact of these fuels on biodiversity if we don't understand the full spectrum of how they affect human health, microbial, land, and marine biodiversity and of course the environment. One interesting prospect is the use of a fungus called Ascocoryne sacroid that has shown to convert cellulose into potential biofuels. It has about 80 clusters of genes that can work on the cellulose of many different plants (since they have cellulose :)) to make potential energy. This fungus isn't alone, Gliocladium roseum, is a fungi that grows in South America that can produce hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. Essentially, it can produce " myco-diesel." These species can be added to a mixture of bio-waste such a plant waste from a farmland to breakdown the cellulose so that no additionally enzymes needed to be added. Is this a better option? I am not sure but its a start in the right direction.

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