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Articles by Biodiversivist

My real name is Russ Finley. I also have my own blog called Biodiversivist, which contains articles in addition to those submitted to Grist. I live in Seattle, married with children. Suffice it to say that although I am trained and educated as an engineer, my passion is nature. I very much want my grandchildren to live on a planet where lions, tigers, and bears have not joined the long and growing list of creatures that used to be.

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The continued existence and expansion of human civilization is wholly dependent on affordable sources of energy. The latest study just released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (an organization that exists to study and promote the viability of renewable energy) suggests that it may be possible to get 80% or so of our electric power from renewable sources by 2050. The study also (inadvertently) provides evidence that renewable energy will be a minority player in humanity’s energy portfolio.

The results may disappoint my fellow solar enthusiasts because it suggests that only 13% of our electric energy will come from solar. Distributed solar enthusiasts (who favor photovoltaic solar panels on rooftops) will be further disappointed because half of that 13% will come from water-sucking centralized concentrated solar thermal power plants, many located in desert ecosystems, leaving only about 6% for solar panels on rooftops, of which many will probably not be on rooftops but in centralized power plants, probably displacing ecosystems or crops.

But electricity represents only 40% of our energy needs. If we hog up all renewable energy sources for el... Read more

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