Beyond environmental trade-offs

Several articles have been gnawing at my subconscious this winter that illustrate the environmental trade-offs needed to move beyond carbon. First up, the NYTimes reported on the failure of IPCC conference in Durban to result in a new green house gas treaty after 17 such annual conferences.

But maybe the task is too tall. The issues on the table are far broader than atmospheric carbon levels or forestry practices or how to devise a fund to compensate those most affected by global warming.

Effectively addressing climate change will require over the coming decades a fundamental remaking of energy production, transportation and agriculture around the world — the sinews of modern life. It is simply too big a job for those who have gathered for these talks under the 1992 United Nations treaty that began this grinding process.

So a different approach is needed then a top-down political process. The solution perhaps is a mix of market driven solutions, local governmental action, and grass-roots individual actions such as those promoted by the Transition Town movement. The market based solutions are the next round of articles that I want to share.

The LATimes has an on going series about trade-offs of the solar energy projects and how we may need to sacrifice large swaths of the mojave deserts for solar. Next up was this article about the the latest snag in the construction of Genesis Solar Energy Project – a new archeological find and stubborn desert kit foxes that won’t relocate after months of ‘passive hazing’.

The latest is a report about the possible real estate bubble for solar land ending on a sub-bubble for desert tortoise relocation habitat. A slideshow is here. [Update 3/25- The travails of relocating Desert Tortoises are covered here].

Solar power is heavy industry (which the public is just beginning to realize), but compared to mountain top removal or deep water horizon – the impacts are several orders of magnitude less and even more critically, the impacts are mostly reversible.

1. Solar Millennium Ridgecrest
250 megawatts
2. Beacon Solar Energy
250 megawatts
3. Abengoa Mojave Solar 1
250 megawatts
4. Hidden Hills Solar
500 megawatts
5. Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
370 megawatts
6. Calico Solar
664 megawatts
7. City of Palmdale Hybrid Gas-Solar
570 megawatts (520 MW natural gas, 50 MW solar)
8. Victorville 2 Hybrid Power
563 megawatts (513 MW natural gas, 50 MW solar)
9. Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
550 megawatts
10. Desert Harvest
150 megawatts
11. Rice Solar Energy
150 megawatts
12. Solar Millennium Palen
484 megawatts
13. Genesis Solar Energy
250 megawatts
14. McCoy Solar
750 megawatts
15. Solar Millennium Blythe
1,000 megawatts
16. Rio Mesa Solar
750 megawatts
17. Imperial Valley Solar
709 megawatts
18. C Solar West
250 megawatts
19. C Solar South
200 megawatts
20. Mt. Signal Solar Farm No. 1
600 megawatts
21. Centinela Solar Energy
275 megawatts
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