This is causing some confusion:
It denies that there is a conflict between meeting renewables targets and protecting wildlife. But this conflict keeps on happening. The biggest single source of renewable power in the UK would be the tidal barrage that is proposed across the Severn estuary – it could potentially generate 5% of the country\’s entire supply. But building it would have severe ecological consequences on the tidal mudflats, which host a panoply of aquatic life and
wading birds – and once again, the RSPB, this time supported by Friends of the Earth (FoE), is strongly in the anti camp. FoE has proposed an alternative system of tidal lagoons, but these would generate less power and might not be economically feasible. Jonathon Porritt\’s Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) last year proposed building the barrage but ensuring that compensatory habitats were established elsewhere for displaced wildlife – especially if these new habitats could help birds and other species adapt to rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change.
What is clear is that all energy-generation technologies have an impact on the environment – and environmentalists are going to have to think more deeply about what their hierarchy of priorities is. For example, nuclear and hydro power were both anathema to environmentalists for decades but are slowly and reluctantly being accepted back into the fold due to their perceived potential for producing low-carbon energy. The nuclear option was recently considered by the SDC – and although it was still ruled out on cost and proliferation grounds, its report did have to concede that "nuclear is a low carbon technology", which "could generate large quantities of electricity, contribute to stabilising CO2 emissions and add to the diversity of the UK\’s energy supply". This is a world away from Greenpeace\’s flat refusal to even consider moving away from its outright and long-standing rejection of nuclear power. Similarly on biofuels, even as environmental campaign groups lobby against the new government-sponsored biofuels mandate (a reversal from their favourable position a few years ago), the Royal Society still insists that biofuels "have a potentially useful role in tackling the issues of climate change and energy supply".
Shock, Horror! There is no such thing as a free lunch!
Actions have consequences, you can\’t have everything, choices must be made!
Sheesh, we\’ve been trying to tell the greens this for decades.
OK, so now that the lesson is beginning to sink in, let\’s actually expand the question shall we? Should we mitigate? Or adapt? What combination of the two should we try for? What will it cost to do one or the other?
Now that we\’ve actually got everyone agreeing that there are both costs and benefits to any course of action, can we start calculating them correctly so that we can make informed decisions?