post that neatly summarizes the dilemma often faced by those with a social conscience, EcoGeek's Hank Green asked the poignant question if whether the aggressive push toward renewable energy championed by the current administration might have the unintended consequence of threatening conservation efforts.
Although I don't see the issue in quite as stark, zero-sum terms as Mr. Green, it does highlight the often unintended consequences of well-intentioned policies. One example that comes to mind is the corn ethanol subsidy a few years ago that raised the price of corn, and by extension, livestock and a number of other commodities that are linked to corn production.
The example brought up in EcoGeek's blog post is the use of public land for concentrated solar, and other real-estate intensive renewable power sources. Add to that the infrastructure needed to transport the power from often remote areas to urban centers.
The fact of the matter is, there's no "perfect" answer that makes everyone happy. Hydroelectric, wind, and yes, even solar, all have an impact on the environment. Some of the comments on the blog advocate distributed (localized) solar, but aside from the lease option offered by some companies, the upfront cost is often beyond the means of average homeowners.
If I had to throw my hat on one side of this issue or the other, I'd say we need to intensely focus on long-term energy independence (as opposed to the "drill here, drill now" mantra parroted by the red kool-aid drinkers, which at best, may provide 50 more years of fuel). If a few field mice or silver minnows are endangered in the process, as cruel and callous as this may sound to some, it's a small price to pay to avoid the consequences of dependence on foreign energy, or continued dependence on outdated and polluting sources of energy.
Where do you fall on this issue? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.