Renewable energy is most definitely not my area of expertise. Nor is conservation planning for that matter. But recent news, developments and blog posts by colleagues who know more have me thinking.

The issue is how to make room for all the new renewable energy we will need to move to a low-carbon economy, in a way that doesn’t destroy the biodiversity and natural areas that conservationists and many others have worked tirelessly to protect.

The Washington Post headline was “Renewable Energy’s Environmental Paradox.” Rob McDonald, one of our experts and bloggers in this area, says:

It is not a paradox, just a trade-off.

But I don’t want to take that trade-off, or accept that paradox. I want my open spaces and my alternative energy, too.

(Well, it’s really the reduced emissions that I want, but that’s the icing on my alternative energy cake. Other people might want alternative energy because it reduces dependence on foreign oil, or provides energy security).

So where does that leave me? I guess it means I better step up and cut back on my own personal energy use.

I know there’s lots of talk about not having to change our lifestyles while we stop global warming. But if it means that places like Wyoming, New Mexico the Mojave desert or Nantucket Sound will be smattered with solar panels, power lines, windmills, biofuel plantations and the like, then maybe using a little less energy won’t be so bad after all.

(Image: solar panels. Source: Dirvish through a Creative Commons license.)

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