The earth is a system as a whole. After an evolution of millions of years it developed a fine tuned balance. With life, ours too, depending on that. Now these last decades we are discovering we can and do use so much energy that this balance is threatened. And ultimately this will destroy life, especially our offspring. Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute is the first to do the math on this. And is findings are very unwellcome information...
WITNESS a howling gale or an ocean storm, and it's hard to believe that humans could make a dent in the awesome natural forces that created them. Yet that is the provocative suggestion of one physicist who has done the sums. He concludes that it is a mistake to assume that energy sources like wind and waves are truly renewable. Build enough wind farms to replace fossil fuels, he says, and we could seriously deplete the energy available in the atmosphere, with consequences as dire as severe climate change. Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, says that efforts to satisfy a large proportion of our energy needs from the wind and waves will sap a significant proportion of the usable energy available from the sun. In effect, he says, we will be depleting green energy sources. His logic rests on the laws of thermodynamics, which point inescapably to the fact that only a fraction of the solar energy reaching Earth can be exploited to generate energy we can use.
Wind and wave farms could affect Earth's energy balance
This article has elicited a considerable amount of interest, and some criticism.
The idea that we can draw endless supplies of clean energy from the wind and waves just doesn't add upRead more at www.newscientist.com