Well we can’t just wait around for them to move out of the way, can we?

Alternate title: are you sure they’re standing? Maybe they’re trying to make room, and it’s just taking them a while.

Headline: Rare Tortoises Could Stand in Way of California Solar-Energy Complex

LOS ANGELES — On a strip of California’s Mojave Desert, two dozen rare tortoises could stand in the way of a sprawling solar-energy complex in a case that highlights mounting tensions between wilderness conservation and the nation’s quest for cleaner power.

Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource Energy has been pushing for more than two years for permission to erect 400,000 mirrors on the site to gather the sun’s energy. It could become the first project of its kind on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property, leaving a footprint for others to follow on vast stretches of public land across the West.

The construction would come with a cost: Government scientists have concluded that more than 6 square miles of habitat for the federally threatened desert tortoise would be permanently lost.

The Sierra Club and other environmentalists want the complex relocated to preserve what they call a near-pristine home for rare plants and wildlife, including the protected tortoise, the Western burrowing owl and bighorn sheep.

“It’s actually a good project. It’s just located in the wrong place,” said Ileene Anderson of the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson, Ariz.-based environmental group.

Well, sure, what you want to do is send one of those solar-panel satellites up, have it collect the energy and then send it down via laser to a collection facility. Much less land needed that way.

Do we have the technology for that yet?

No? Well. Has anyone measured the carbon footprint of a desert tortoise? We might be doing the Earth a favor by destroying their habitat. Hey, they live in a desert, right? Where it’s hot? Well, how did it get so hot? Maybe…carbon emissions?

Don’t laugh: environmental scientists are spending a lot of time measuring the impact of animals on climate change.

Well, okay. Go ahead and laugh.

What the solar energy people should do is extrapolate the carbon footprint of building and running their new facility, minus that of the emissions they’ll prevent by using solar energy instead of oil or gas, and compare that to the carbon footprint of the wildlife they’re displacing. I’ll bet that if you go far enough into the future, you’ll eventually net a greener footprint. Especially if you take future technological advances into account.

(Posted by The TrogloPundit, a.k.a. Lance Burri)

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