It Isn’t Easy Being Green

When I hear people going on about the horrors of our carbon-fueled civilization, I’m willing to acknowledge that our current energy sources are imperfect, but I’d like to hear what alternatives my friends have in mind. Solar, of course, is the typical favorite; if I had a nickel for every bumper sticker or Facebook post telling me that a solar energy spill is what we typically call a nice day, I’d have quite a few nickels.

But solar has its flaws as well. There’s the whole energy density issue, for one — barring a spectacular increase in efficiency, it just isn’t sufficient. But as the AP’s Ellen Knickmeyer and John Locher report, there are other, less expected, drawbacks:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

[…] Federal wildlife officials said Ivanpah might act as a “mega-trap” for wildlife, with the bright light of the plant attracting insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds that fly to their death in the intensely focused light rays.

Suddenly, I’m in the mood for chicken — extra-crispy.


On second thought, maybe a burger.

A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to Tony Schreck, via Facebook.


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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2 Responses to It Isn’t Easy Being Green

  1. Jerome Scott says:

    The evolution of technology is a gradual process. I would drive a Tesla right now!

  2. jeff1947 says:

    Peter Huber discussed energy density in his book Hard Green and summarizes his ideas in this short lecture:

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