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Tue Jun 11, 2019, 09:46 PM

Green Groups Silent as Solar Company Plans Destruction of Mojave Wildlands

http://www.mojavedesertblog.com/2019/06/green-groups-silent-as-solar-company.html?m=1&fbclid=IwAR1Jhux8Rg4Rac0opy2UXm5fjmq-NG_UoH5P-IgzxfF64MUzJOTyKRlZMUQ

The Department of Interior in early June released its draft environmental review indicating that plans to replace 11 square miles of intact desert wildlands in southern Nevada with the Gemini Solar project would result in significant impacts on wildlife and outdoor recreation. The project proposed by Arevia Power would install photovoltaic solar panels on land that is currently home to rare plants, desert kit fox, tortoises and other wildlife. Photovoltaic solar panels are just as easily installed on rooftops, parking lot canopies, and on already-disturbed lands, calling in to question the need to sacrifice desert wildlands to generate electricity. (California has installed over 8,000 megawatts of distributed solar generation with relatively modest policy incentives.)

Arevia Power's plans to destroy these Mojave wildlands will displace or kill nearly at least 260 desert tortoises, and dozens of kit foxes and burrowing owls, according to the draft environmental impact statement. The area is also home to rare plants, including the beleaguered threecorner milkvetch. According to the Department of Interior report, "[m]itigating for threecorner milkvetch habitat loss is no longer possible. Habitat conservation is the method needed to ensure the long-term survival of this species. Threecorner milkvetch is currently state-listed as critically endangered." The project would also disrupt the Congressionally-designated Old Spanish National Historic Trail.

Despite Arevia Power's plans to destroy an area of wildlands half the size of Manhattan, environmental groups have largely been silent on the project. Clean energy is indeed the answer to cutting our dependency on fossil fuels, but many environmental organizations have yet to build the intellectual courage necessary to consistently inject nuance into national discourse on the deployment of renewable energy and define a sustainable path for our clean energy transition. Some major environmental organizations submitted scoping letters* to the Department of Interior earlier in the environmental review process, but none have come forward with public statements regarding the Gemini Solar project. Only in Nevada can you plan to mow down an area nearly twice the size of Yosemite Valley and fail to draw a public voice of dissent sufficient to fill a letter to the editor (although I concede that southern Nevada's largest newspaper is owned by a major donor to President Trump).

Clean energy may reduce carbon emissions, but it can still be disastrous for biodiversity; scientists have regularly identified habitat conservation as the key to preventing extinction and improving the resilience of species already under pressure by the effects of climate change. Famed scientist E.O. Wilson wrote in a 2016 New York Times editorial that:

"The disappearance of natural habitat is the primary cause of biological diversity loss at every level ó ecosystems, species and genes, all of them. Only by the preservation of much more natural habitat than previously envisioned can extinction be brought close to a sustainable level."

Compounding the problems surrounding Arevia Power's plans to destroy desert wildlands is that the Department of Interior decided not to update its Resource Management Plan in southern Nevada. The result is a relative free-for-all on public lands: the Federal stewards of our public lands have not decided through a recent public process what we as a society want to protect or exploit. This gives developers of all varieties an advantage because "multiple use" is the default on most public lands that are not protected. Multiple use, however, is a misnomer because once a developer builds an open-pit mine, solar power project, or natural gas well pad on public lands, it severely limits the number of species that can benefit from that land. The loss of that land to a developer also means that we humans cannot enjoy that land for a vast number of other uses, including camping, hiking, wildlife watching, etc.

By the end of this year, the Department of Interior could issue a final decision approving Arevia Power's plans to wipe out 11 square miles of wildlands, and that would only be the latest in the ever-exploding sprawl of southern Nevada. The public can submit comments on this project through the difficult-to-navigate Department of Interior website, but ultimately the silence of nature's advocates and local elected officials will determine whether this sacrifice is permitted or not. If it is built, we will be able to power our televisions and refrigerators with supposedly guilt-free clean energy, and some seemingly anonymous* investors will profit greatly. We will lose thousands of acres of Mojave plant life and critters that have survived for millennia on those lands. But we have only barely scratched the surface, right?

The loss of desert habitat has become unacceptable, I get really tired of the stupid comments like "its only empty desert".

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Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply Green Groups Silent as Solar Company Plans Destruction of Mojave Wildlands (Original post)
ripcord Jun 11 OP
Odoreida Jun 11 #1
msongs Jun 11 #2
Wounded Bear Jun 11 #4
saidsimplesimon Jun 11 #3
hunter Jun 12 #29
Kaleva Jun 11 #5
cagefreesoylentgreen Jun 12 #30
Kaleva Jun 12 #33
cagefreesoylentgreen Jun 13 #36
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #6
ripcord Jun 11 #8
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #9
Kaleva Jun 12 #34
hunter Jun 12 #35
mopinko Jun 11 #7
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #10
mopinko Jun 11 #15
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #16
mopinko Jun 11 #17
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #19
mopinko Jun 12 #26
denbot Jun 11 #11
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #13
denbot Jun 11 #18
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #20
denbot Jun 12 #21
GulfCoast66 Jun 12 #23
Doremus Jun 11 #12
GulfCoast66 Jun 11 #14
womanofthehills Jun 12 #22
hunter Jun 12 #32
HAB911 Jun 12 #24
Xolodno Jun 12 #25
SHRED Jun 12 #27
zipplewrath Jun 12 #28
hunter Jun 12 #31

Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 09:47 PM

1. Comes from tunnel vision. n/t

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 09:54 PM

2. roof top solar before corporate whores nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:06 PM

4. Yeah, I'm no fan of huge solar farms...

or wind farms, for that matter. We should stop building terrorist targets and move to point of use and local generation/capture of energy.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:03 PM

3. Next thing ya'know,

the Grand Canyon will be opened to commercial drilling interests.

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Response to saidsimplesimon (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 12:46 PM

29. Might as well add a few dams to the Grand Canyon as well.

Dams would be useless, of course, since they don't actually create water and the Colorado River rarely reaches the ocean, but dams!

And they should blast out a highway from they South Rim to the bottom so people don't have to walk, take rafts, or ride mules to admire it.









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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:09 PM

5. A similar solar project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation north of this site seems fine

"The Maopa Band of Paiutes is currently pursuing additional renewable energy opportunities, including development of the 300 MW Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm.[11][12]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moapa_Southern_Paiute_Solar_Project#Tribal_benefits_and_opportunities

I don't see an issue with this project.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 12:46 PM

30. There's a state park in the proposed site

This particular project would be at the primary gateway to the Valley of Fire State Park. Near the protected Muddy Mountains wilderness area.

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Response to cagefreesoylentgreen (Reply #30)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 01:13 PM

33. The state park is to the east of the proposed site

The Muddy Mountain wilderness area is to the south-southeast of the Valley of Fire State Park. Looking at Google Maps, there's some distance between the proposed site and the state park and wilderness area.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #33)

Thu Jun 13, 2019, 03:10 AM

36. This is the primary route in

Almost no one comes up through Overton to visit the Valley of Fire. Itís a big tourist destination and recreation area for visitors and locals alike. How should I feel about the first thing theyíll now see is a feel of industrial development instead of wilderness?

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:10 PM

6. This is the price of green energy. At least it will be...

So maybe this is not the best place for a solar farm. But if we are truly going to replace fissile fuels with solar and wind then we have to expect solar farms and turbines just about everywhere.

Too many people have the idea that green energy is environmentally neutral. It is not. And can you name a wild area or empty area in this country that has no value? I canít. I share John Muirís belief that nature has value outside of manís use for it.

Take Florida where I live. Perfect for solar. And our dry land is all disturbed and of marginal if not awful farm value due to the climate and sand soil. So solar farms are going up like crazy. Good, right? But what about the idea of replanting the Longleaf Pine and Wire Grass ecosystem Europeans found? That would be the environmental home run. But there are 20 million of us here. Even if every home had solar panels, which I support, there would still be the need for thousands if not hundreds of thousands of acres with solar panels. And wind is a non-starter in Florida. We just donít have enough.

That is why I still support Nuclear Energy. It has it drawbacks and risks. But seeing my state covered in solar panels, destroying hundreds of thousands of acres potentially native land is not just a risk, but an abomination.

This is not something many on the left like to talk about. But we need to realize where we are heading. And plan for.



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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:30 PM

8. There are square miles of parking areas in Los Angeles alone that could have solar canopies

We need this



Not this



Every single parking area canopied, required by law.

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Response to ripcord (Reply #8)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:38 PM

9. I don't disagree. In fact agree wholeheartedly. But that is not enough.

Not nearly enough to meet our energy needs.

If we were going to truly replace fossil fuelís with green energy, which pretty much means solar and wind, we should expect to see hundreds of thousands of acres covered with solar panels. This is not totally free energy. We deny the fact at our own political peril.

As a scientist Iím curious to see what new forms of life will evolve underneath all of this shaded area. And I do want to stop using fossil fuelís. But there is a cost. And it is not small.

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Response to ripcord (Reply #8)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 02:45 PM

34. They could put solar canopies over the interstates.

The govt. already has the right of way. Doing some really rough, back of the envelope calculations, if we put solar canopies over every two lane interstate highway, that' come out to about 900 square miles or 575,000 acres of solar panels. An area the size of Isle Royale National Park.

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Response to ripcord (Reply #8)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 02:53 PM

35. A few of the places I haunt have parking lot solar.

I like parking in the shade.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:29 PM

7. this is ridiculous. no pristine wildlife for power.

jeebus.
put them on brownfields, or spent farmland.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #7)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:47 PM

10. But spent farmland is renewed ecosystems in the making.

And as an agronomist, there really is no spent farmland. Only poorly managed land. Spent farmland is routinely made productive again with proper soil management.

If you believe John Muir, which I do, nature has value outside of man. Every acre we put solar panels on is spoiled land. I will never be able to regain the flora and fauna evolution gave it.

Not saying I disagree with it, but we need to realize green energy is not environmentally neutral. It totally removes huge swaths of land from ever being natural. But perhaps harvesting energy is as important as grain?

Pretend that going green has no cost will eventually kill us politically.

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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #10)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:23 PM

15. well, yeah, i agree w you there.

i had to build the soil on my urban farm from scratch. much can be done.
they tell me in e&e that soil building is impractical at the needed scale, but i contend that is totally false, and can even solve other environmental problems along the way. so....
but shitty farm land is still better than pristine wilderness.

there are also a lot of built spaces, like parking lots, where a solar roof is an asset. all industrial buildings should have solar on roof tops and parking lots.

and the brownfields. shit, we still have the u.s. steel southworks sitting idle here, because it needs so much remediation. 600 acres.
strip mine sites and flattened mountaintops.
abandoned mining areas.

c'mon people. we're supposed to be the smart ones.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #15)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:38 PM

16. Your missing my point. Even the worst damaged land has potential to be pristine.

I was in Iceland a while back. When a volcano sends out lava over a landscape anything we have done to the land pales in comparison. The land is desolate and useless. But in a couple of hundred years it is very fertile and good land.

Even mountain top mining given time can revert to a rich landscape. It what the earth and evolution does. And not hundreds of years.

We have to realize that solar farms remove that landscape as much as a parking lot. Well, at least the land still drains under panels.

I support green energy. But if you lived in Eastern Kentucky and the green hill that used to be a mountain, which has trees returning and wildlife reappearing suddenly turns into a silver covered mountain, you might not be happy.

And realize there are large parts of the country where solar is not a great deal. Like in Florida wind is a nonstarter.

Iím not against green energy. We have to do it. But it will have its own high cost. We need to be honest about it.






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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #16)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:40 PM

17. no, i get the point.

but you are assuming we have a hundred years.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #17)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:51 PM

19. Which means what?

All the areas you talked about putting solar panels will not happen without the support of the locals.

Itís just talk.

I agree we donít have hundreds of years. Not if we want to maintain society as we know it.

But there is time to do it right. And the only feasible alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear. It has huge risks. But is the only viable option we have. But not as big a risk as continuing to use fossil fuels. I was anti-nuke my whole life. But canít see a visible alternative in a Democratic society. People will not vote for a reduction in lifestyle. By the time they might it will be too late.

Your smart. Do the research on how many acres of solar panels we will need. I just canít see that happening. Wish I could.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. But I just donít see a achievable alternative.



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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #19)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 10:25 AM

26. well, lift your eyes.

maybe you are so pessimistic because you live in florida, where solar is penalized. got a couple of big sisters in the villages, and they are so pissed they cant get solar. both have money for their retirements, and would love to invest it in solar instead of wall st paper.

but germany has stopped burning coal some days. all days soon.
all the other signatories to the paris accords are making great strides.
solar is cheaper, better and safer than nukes.

wind may not work in fla, tho, srsly? w the ocean winds? it is getting more efficient, and adapted to lower speeds. you could power a lot of the state w small wind, i am willing to bet.
but it works really well in a lot of places. i could probably power myself w solar plus small wind. if the sun isnt shining, the wind is blowing. i do have lake michigan breezes, but there are a lot of windy spots in the country.
there is a walgreens near me that is trying to be net zero. i dont know how they are doing, but they have a couple vertical turbines on the street that seem to be spinning along most times that i go by. some of what they are harvesting are breezes from the cars zooming by.


anyway, something occurs to me in this discussion-

seems like we are only counting mostly 2D space here on the surface.
what if we looked at this allocation of space in 3D?
what if we counted the atmosphere, the depths of the oceans, the cubic miles of the dead zone in the gulf and elsewhere?

this would make us take the full extent of the stuff we are belching into the atmosphere, and dumping in the ocean.
then what would it look like? pollution isnt just ppb, it's a cloud around us.

i think nukes have a pretty damn huge cloud, from mining to decommissioning. (tho, this would be a lot less damaging if they started getting their fuels from the glowing fracking waste we are spreading through that space.)
there are better ways.
we know that.

and we havent even touched the subject of conservation.

out of the full, 3D environment that we are talking about, as redeemable as old farm land is, you have to rank it at the bottom of the "worth saving" inventory. ranking pristine wilderness above that is just a no brainer. sorry.
you are wrongly presuming that is an either/or since farmers are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the expansion of wind.
you cant take a drive to the country w/o seeing at least a couple of rows of dancing turbines.

i think you are making a binary out of something that is extremely complex.
it is not zero sum. at.all.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:50 PM

11. There are numerous "dry lake" basins in the area

They are mostly devoid of life, and rarely wet, even then for very short periods. There are better alternatives.

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Response to denbot (Reply #11)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:10 PM

13. Are they really?

The life that has evolved there will be destroyed. I am not willing to make a judgment about which life has the most value.

Of course, Iím employing hyperbole to make the point we all need to realize and be honest about. Putting up hundreds of thousands of acres of solar panels to eliminate fossil fuel will have a huge ecological cost.

Even here in Florida. None of our dry uplands, which we actually have, are pristine. All were farmed until our sandy soils and unfavorable climate made most agriculturally marginal. So now the mainly grow genetically engineered pine trees worth almost nothing or single family homes, worth a lot. But left alone and with a little help, the longleaf pine/wire grass ecosystem would rapidly recover along with all the species now endangered due to environmental degradation.

If we cover them with solar panels, the ecosystem will as unnatural as single family homes. But to supply 22 million people with power, even if every house had solar panels will take thousands of acres if not more. And wind power is not viable here

Iím not saying we should not do so. But there is a huge cost and we need to be honest about it. Already on my drive to work 300 acres that were pine trees and other plants are now covered with solar panels and devoid of a natural ecosystem. No more gopher tortoises, eastern diamond back rattlesnakes, burrowing owlets and indigo snakes. Again, I like seeing them. But realize they came with a cost.



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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #13)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:47 PM

18. There is little other than microbial life in the highly alkaline "flats".

Nothing is without a cost, and we can find acceptable solutions with or without hyperbole.

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Response to denbot (Reply #18)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:53 PM

20. Ok. I can deal with that.

Many canít admit there will be a cost for solar power. But those microbes would disagree!!

But I agree with you.

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Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #20)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 12:06 AM

21. Those microbes are among the most hardy life forms on the planet.

Just as you canít sterilize soil by digging, you canít kill the resident microbes by digging post holes.
Hell, some of the little buggers literally eat arsenic.

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Response to denbot (Reply #21)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 12:16 AM

23. As a scientist I can't disagree.

Thousands of years from now when the solar panels are rusted and falling apart, the microbes will be going strong. Hell, we came from them! And 200 years or 200,000 year from now, if we are gone they will remain. To start a new evolutionary journey.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 10:52 PM

12. God this pisses me off. Does EVERYTHING have to be sold to the fucking highest bidder???

Our kids and grandkids should revolt and throw us all in a dungeon. Maybe they could salvage a little bit of their future. Maybe.

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Response to Doremus (Reply #12)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 11:20 PM

14. I get the anger. But if we want green energy.

Hundreds of thousands of acres of land will need to be covered with solar panels. No getting around it.

Which ecosystem would you prefer being destroyed. Because green energy will not be environmentally neutral. We have to accept that fact.

Even if every home and office building is gathering solar energy we will still need huge swaths of solar farms. In my mind there is no worthless ecosystem. They all have value.

So something has to be ecologically taken out of the natural system. And ever area has its defenders.

I support green energy. But we must be honest about its cost.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 12:14 AM

22. Problem we are having out here in NM is MONSTER TRANSMISSION LINES for solar and wind

Like 150 ft tall and they want to go over peoples property with a 100 ft right of way.

I lived off grid for ten yrs and now have my solar panels connected to the grid - so I love solar energy, but....... we have these HUGE companies who want to make huge bucks and are messing with all the little people to totally devalue their land and health.

I have had to become a mega activist to try and keep this stuff off my little 40 acres. In one case I did not succeed and have two 90 ft towers going across my land - wind power from NM going to Arizona (not used locally). This time, our neighborhood succeeded in keeping the 150 ft towers towers out of our area, but now other neighborhoods are organizing to keep the new route out of theirs. We also had to fight Kinder Morgan when they wanted to send CO2 thru here. We have a neighborhood activist group, Resistiendo, ready to meet within hrs notice to fight all this shit. Country people all across the US are having this problem.

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Response to womanofthehills (Reply #22)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 12:56 PM

32. In most cases new power lines for wind and solar are bullshit.

The power companies profit most when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining and the lines are transmitting dirty fossil fuel energy, which is most of the time.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 08:28 AM

24. PRIME DIRECTIVE

MUST MAINTAIN MONOPOLY
MUST MAINTAIN MONOPOLY
MUST MAINTAIN MONOPOLY
MUST MAINTAIN MONOPOLY

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 10:13 AM

25. Opportunity Cost.

Continue to use fossil fuels, well probably decimate more of the planet.

Move to more wind and solar, probably decimate less of the planet.

Plus side, in California, they are shoving these things in on every roof they can find and over every parking lot as well.

But you will still see sections of desert still covered with Solar Panels. Where I'm at, they've been doing them in 2-5 acre lots. Our power demands are pretty high.

For example, at one town council in a rural suburb, a newly elected member brought forth the idea of putting in street lights. He was very surprised at the negative reaction that followed. Turns out, the small town doesn't like light pollution at night and enjoys seeing the stars.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 11:04 AM

27. Centralized energy is a beast

Rooftop solar is far far greener and less costly.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 11:57 AM

28. Hydroelectric

It is often overlooked just how much environmental impact our tendency for a while to dam off rivers and create huge lakes behind the dams. There was alot of wildlife driven off by those lakes, and it isn't clear that the local ecosystems really could make valuable use of those large lakes.

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Response to ripcord (Original post)

Wed Jun 12, 2019, 12:51 PM

31. They can go fuck themselves with a cholla cactus.

There are plenty of parking lots and roofs that don't have solar yet.

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