Friday, December 30, 2005

2005 wins for science

A Concerned Scientist looks back at some wins for science and and conservation in the assult by ID activists, and big oil's search for big deposits. Sustainable Energy 2005 Round-up:
2005 saw it's drastic ups and downs in gas and energy prices, with the threat of Peak Oil to our economy looming, our energy infrastructure remaining a troublesome national security issue, and evidence abounding for the acceleration of global warming and climate change. But renewable energy has seen great progress this last year as well, with numerous local and state initiatives proposed and implemented (even if Bush continues to stand in the way), further R on improving energy and transportation technologies, and a nascent community of private companies taking steps towards a sustainable future (e.g. GE, BP).

At the top of the list are Governor Schwarzenegger's (R-CA) Million Solar Roofs Initiative, the Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and a series of other regional projects encouraging Kyoto-like emissions reduction targets. Given the threat posed by a collapse following contraction of our petroleum-based economy, expanding alternative fuels and energies is a must. Significant obstacles remain, however: most solar panels still require expensive highly purified silicon; wind farms are objected to as unsightly and threaten migratory birds/bats; biofuels would take more energy to produce than they would supply and don't represent a permanent solution to carbon emissions; hydrogen fuel cells still require expensive platinum and other components, and hydrogen production/distribution schemes remain unsatisfactory; nuclear power has gotten safer in the last 30 years, but still has questions of waste disposal that need addressing; and coal does nothing to address carbon emissions, although mercury and other pollutants have been cleaned up substantially.

Still, we must laud the initiatives and projects that've seen notable progress this year, as we head towards Peak Oil.
I would add the growing realisation that GM seeds have lower yields than unmodified seeds to be a win. Modifying seeds genetically so they can help sell more chemical fertiliser (at the expense of the environment) does not deserve to be a sustainable business.

It's biodiversity, or bust baby!

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1 comment:

Daniel said...

GM crops are one area of science that I haven't been following, really (there's so much to cover), so I wasn't aware of the yield differences - very interesting to know.

I'm sure that there's a GMO out there somewhere that has positive benefits, but you're right, genetic modification for chemical treatment purposes ain't kosher.