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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 24 2013: It seems like a lot of people believe that nuclear power is the best next step for our major energy source. I think that the risks involved with it are too great to ignore and out weigh the benefits it would provide. There are just so many factors that we must take into account before making a decision on the best form of renewable energy. I have always been in favor for solar panels or solar energy. I did some research a couple years back to learn more about the negative sides to solar panels, and there are some. The materials that are used to make them are not cheap and some of the heavy metals and byproducts are dangerous to health of people and the environment. I remember reading about one type of solar panel that was made in China. One of the byproducts was able to be recycled but it would have to be heated to something like 2800 degrees F, which is expensive to do. So instead the waste was just dumped in outside a small village somewhere in China and the effects of this waste was that the soil became unable to sustain life. So nothing can grow in the area for years and years to come.

    I think that with some research and regulations on solar energy, it could develop into a very dependable and efficient energy source with a very low impact on our environment and biodiversity. There are definitely some improvements needed from what types of solar energy that are around today. Also, thought needs to be put into what happens to them, whether they are panels or some other form of solar energy capturing design, once they are no longer efficient and need to be replaced. Can they be recycled efficiently and cheaply with little to no harmful byproducts? I think that solar should be our next step in renewable energy and our focus and research should be towards that.
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      Apr 24 2013: That's a good point Breena.. even if an certain technology seemed like a good choice in theory, its a very different situation when we try to actually put it in practice! Theoretically the byproduct of that solar panel could be disposed of safely, but prohibitive costs change everything. We always need to keep in mind that whatever alternative energy sources we choose to exploit must be economically feasible, even for developing nations that may not have the resources or money to properly implement the necessary infrastructure or dispose of the waste. In the next few decades we will witness a substantial increase in energy consumption in parts of the world that have been historically underdeveloped, such as South East Asia. Many of these nations are currently dependent on coal, and have begun to turn toward nuclear as their economic development and population growth raise demands for electricity. If we want to truly move towards a more sustainable future, we'll need to place as much emphasis on economic realities as we do technological possibilities.

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