Conservation and Renewable Energy – A European Perspective

dead birds by turbineFrom The Ecologist.org, a very good article by ecologist writer Luke Dale-Harris on the EU’s Natura 2000 goals and the brewing conflict between conservation ideology and renewable energy development – once thought to be allies in the struggle to save the planet.  A very prescient analysis that applies to the US and its struggles with the same conflicts.  Can we make the claim that renewable energy encompasses modern values of conservation? Wind developers have used the claim of meeting the balance of providing for modern energy needs while also meeting the need to conserve the environment.  As time goes on and growing experience begins to tell us wind and hydro developers have under scrutiny shown their own conflicts with preserving biodiversity in our environment.

Also most troubling as this article points out through experience provided in Eastern European countries (many of which have only recently been freed from the yoke of dictatorial control), that these new “renewable” energy industries use the same imperialist, non-democratic and hierarchical strategies of their more destructive predecessors.  The exercise of sustainable practice must include involvement of all parties that make the earth their habitat, from humans to the natural environment that humans depend on.

The Hidden Conservation Costs of Renewable Energy

The birds that migrate freely across Europe are unaware of the invisible borders that lie below them. They follow the same routes that have carried them to warmth every year for an eternity, marked out by the indomitable features of the landscape – the coast of the Atlantic on one side and the curve of the Carpathian Mountains on the other. But it is what they miss that matters most; their future, along with that of the rest of us, is dictated by the political and economic tides that shift shape across the continent.

In this day, with growth and progress honoured above all else, the natural world is at the mercy of human endeavour. Allowed to run its course, the open market will drain the land of all life over and above what is fundamental for its own survival. The more fragile and economically superfluous species of the world – the lynxes and lesser spotted eagles, right down to the field cricket or river jelly lichen – remain only for as long as we consider their existence a moral imperative, and their extinction as a cause for shame. It is this that drives conservation.

To continue reading: The Hidden Conservation Costs of Renewable Energy

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