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Been reading this article which was in the Salon of today. I don't know why it ticks me off so much.

The solar power compromise: Sacrificing desert to save the Earth - Page 2 - latimes.com

Larry LaPre, the Bureau of Land Management's wildlife biologist for much of the Mojave, said some aspects of the project have been carefully considered and painstakingly done. Other approaches, however, are "complete nonsense," among them BrightSource's experimental approach of shearing the tops of desert plants so they fit under elevated solar mirrors. The company calls it "gentle mowing."

"To get another barrel cactus, even a small one, takes 100 years," he said, driving around the Ivanpah construction site. LaPre peered through the windshield and ticked off what living things might be left after the developers complete their work.

"The birds are already gone. They're outta there," he said. The site "will have plants, short plants, and it will have mice and kangaroo rats and some lizards. That's it. Maybe some more common birds. The insects are an unknown, because you could have massive losses of pollinators because you have all these insects getting burned in the mirrors."

Jeffrey Lovich studies desert tortoises for the U.S. Geological Survey. In preparing a recent paper, he and a colleague scoured published research analyzing impacts from large solar farms on wildlife. They found one paper. Essentially, Lovich said, no one knows what will happen to wildlife in the Mojave.

"This is an experiment on a grand scale," Lovich said. "Science is racing to catch up."

I don't know whether it is the incompetent but predictable subsidy loopholes which allowed businesses to make profit without doing anything, or the tone of the article, or the scientists expressing worries above. And although it's not mentioned, part of this project was initiated because of the nationalistic hoopla about energy independence.

I guess the upshot is: something has got to give if we want to decarbonise the economy. But we keep pretending it doesn't. Next stop: Lalala-land.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 6th, 2012 at 01:01:10 PM EST

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