Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mirror Energy Project Reflects the Big Picture

Out of the California desert comes a renewable energy project that hopefully sets a precedent and encourages future projects.

Instead of solar voltaics, an array of hundreds of mirrors reflects sunlight to a central tower.  The concentrated sun at the tower turns water into steam, which then turns turbines to make electricity. 

The project is a lesson in clearing multiple hurdles, including piles of permitting, but also reflects a new environmentalism where, to a degree, one issue trumps all others.

This is the somewhat famous project (that brings polluters so much glee) where environmentalists concerned about the threatened desert tortoise butted heads with environmentalists seeking a clean energy future. 

But the new world order of environmentalism asks all those who care about life on Earth to see the bigger picture.  While it is important to protect habitat, all habitat is threatened by climate change.

"If you care about desert tortoises, you better care about climate change.  Without some large-scale renewable energy projects, we do not hit our climate goals. We do not replace fossil fuels with clean energy in this country," said Carl Zichella with the Natural Resources Defense Council in an NPR article.

It looks like the future of the desert is much like its opposite -- the oceans.  The oceans are steadily being divided up into marine preserves, which is good, but the larger picture cannot be missed. 

Climate change from burning fossil fuels threatens all habitat including the vast oceans.  No number of marine reserves is going to stop ocean acidification and ocean warming if we do not support clean energy.

image: thisiscolossal .com

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