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Clean Power Storks & solar panels.
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Published on March 16th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

5

SPIEGEL — Wrong Again

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March 16th, 2013 by  

Reposted from Lenz Blog (image added):

Storks & solar panels. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Storks & solar panels.
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Anybody paying attention to renewable energy issues in Germany knows that SPIEGEL magazine is the enemy. They publish one anti-renewable propaganda piece after the next.

Their latest talking point comes in this article published on Tuesday. Since I happen to have read Joe Romm’s book on language intelligence, I am not going to repeat their talking point. Instead I will just confirm the common sense knowledge that renewable energy is necessary to protect the environment.

You would not know it from reading that SPIEGEL article, but we have an environmental crisis of historic proportions at our hands. Global warming needs to be stopped, and it needs to be stopped quickly. This is not the time to put the brakes on renewable energy deployment by publishing this kind of article.

As I know from a source I can’t tell you about right now, if CO2 emissions don’t peak until July 17th, 2023, the planet will pass the final tipping point and be doomed to a runaway global meltdown feedback loop.

If you use wood pellets for heating, that reduces CO2 emissions in comparison to burning oil or coal. That of course has the effect that wood prices go up, and more trees are coming down to provide the wood. That is something that can’t be avoided if you use wood pellets in the first place.

If one builds a lot of solar and wind, that needs area. Some of the area will come from forests or other environmentally valuable places. That can’t be helped. Those solar panels and wind turbines need to go somewhere. If you object to some project because it might be inconvenient for some bird or other, keep in mind that without going ahead full speed with deployment those birds probably will go extinct anyway.

This reminds me of environmentalists in the United States who object to desert solar projects because they are concerned for desert turtles. And Mark Lynas’ strange idea that protection of biodiversity should take priority over stopping global warming.

It would be nice if one could displace fossil fuel without changing the environment at all. That is impossible. Wind and solar do have a large footprint. If you object to nuclear energy, like just about anybody in Germany, you just don’t have the luxury any more to object in any way to renewable energy, and you certainly won’t be able to displace fossil fuel by putting the brakes on because you want priority for birds or turtles.

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  • beernotwar

    The best point in this article is that species loss from global warming will be orders of magnitude worse than anything solar or wind power installations. And if those concerns aren’t overblown I’d be surprised.

    I’m actually curious if large solar installations can change a desert environment for the better from a species-diversity perspective. Would it be possible for a very large solar installation to reduce the average daily temperatures in its local area? Could this slow evaporation and improve plant growth in the surrounding area? Could shade provided by an installation help some species…for example those that need to hide from avian predators?

    On a much larger scale I wonder how much solar we’d need to install to counter the lost albedo effect of the ice caps melting. I’m assuming the answer is “a ridiculous amount” but I’d like to know how ridiculous, exactly.

  • anderlan

    The power usage of humanity in 2008 is equivalent to the power generated if only HALF of human structures were covered with solar panels. So there, the “solar land use” problem is BS. Like there’s not deserts covering half the non-ice land surface of the earth? Replacing a solar array’s concrete ground contact points with wheels, and you could even use fallow agricultural land year after year.

    Bottom line, this is, as you point out, propaganda: SOLAR REQUIRES NO FOREST DESTRUCTION. And, by the way, solar and other renewables are inherently about a hundred times better than biomass because they convert solar energy about 100 times more efficiently. Biomass will always ALWAYS ALWAYS account for a tiny sliver energy use of our current age. DON’T FORGET THAT.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks :D

  • sault

    This is a classic canard that can easily fool people who don’t know any better. If anyone has seen the massive Tar Sand extraction operations in northeast Alberta (even just on Google Maps), or the thousands of square miles pockmarked by fracking well fields in the USA, or the horrors of mountain top removal mining, then they would know that clean energy is a MUCH better option. Or just look at the offshore rigs, the oil pipelines and the oil spills that accompany them. Heck, I’ve even seen a SINGLE coal power plant fill an entire rural valley with brown cloud smog like it was LA or something. Yeah, Spiegel is just parroting a bunch of dog-bites-dog nonsense with this story.

  • globi

    Actually, coal and nuclear power plants have a large footprint because they require large mining areas and as opposed to PV cannot be placed on existing roofs.

    Also, a wind-farm can still be used for agricultural purposes. An uranium mine on the other hand cannot. And offshore wind-farms don’t have a foot-print and in fact protect marine life from trawlers.

    Needless to say that wind-farms and PV are built much faster than new nuclear.

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