Environmental Conservation | VOL. 13
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Energy and Arid Lands: Potential Impacts of Intensive Energy Deployment in Desert Regions of Southern California

Publication Date Jan 1, 1986

Abstract

Desert regions are increasingly being put into use for a variety of purposes. The California Desert may be subjected to a number of energy technologies—particularly those related to harnessing solar energy—in the near future. In conjunction with past or other current disturbances, the fragmentation and pollution impacts of energy development could pose serious threats to the desert's fragile ecosystems.Land-intensive energy technologies, such as solar receivers and biomass crops, will mainly result in changes that disrupt natural habitats. If all feasible energy schemes came to fruition, we estimate that one-half of the California Desert's area would be devoted to energy production. Even for much lower estimates of energy development, most of the Desert's natural habitat would be fragmented in park areas. Based upon island geographic principles and conservation biology, loss of species would be inevitable. Some species are already threatened with extinction.Research is required to determine ways in which the Desert's natural resources—solitude, scenic vistas, wildlife, and insolation—can best be used to meet energy, recreation, and conservation, needs. In particular, research is required to estimate how successive small habitat losses would stress desert ecosystems.

Concepts
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Scenic Vistas
California Desert
Current Disturbances
Solar Receivers
Arid Lands
Park Areas
Biomass Crops
Desert's Area
Conservation Biology
Energy Technologies

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