Ladies and Gentlemen, the Mojave Desert.
This wonderfully dense piece by Alexis Madrigal captures the dawn of a new solar era, fraught with the moral struggle over the lost habitat of the desert tortoise. Except the choice isn’t turtle/no turtle, it’s turtle/thousands of other species including humans. Solar power is one of the few reliable, renewable energy sources that can replace the vile filth in our skies and mercury in our food chain caused by coal power. Solar power can never flood the environment and our cities with radiation like nuclear power. Any environmentalist worth their salt should understand that this isn’t a clear choice, it’s a dilemma, and the only thing that is clear is that fossil fuels must go. I would want BrightSource to do whatever it can to help the desert tortoise survive, but by bringing clean, neverending power to the US (yes, solar could power the entire country by 2050 especially combined with wind) they benefit all life.
In the long run, the argument is moot. Oil won’t be here. Coal will even disappear in time. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I don’t think in such terms. Maybe it will be five hundred, or a thousand years from now when we have no more fossil fuels, and then what? How about five thousand years? One day, if it isn’t renewable it won’t be a possibility. Yet will we have recovered from the damage that all those fossil fuels wrought?