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Ducks and Energy

Development of new energy sources could have significant impacts on North America’s waterfowl.
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By Jim Ringelman, Ph.D.

How quickly things change. A year ago, gasoline prices were soaring and corn ethanol plants were the darling of many investors. Today, fuel prices are among the least of our financial concerns, and some investors are beginning to avoid ethanol plants like mallards flaring from a bad decoy spread. But taking the long view, these swings in energy-related consumer prices and business investments are just distractions from the constant, inexorable increase in the world’s hunger for energy. Between now and 2030, world energy demand is projected to increase by 45 percent. What will be the implications for ducks?

It’s a complex question dependent on a host of political and economic factors. Yet some things seem clear. Energy demand will continue to grow. The United States will move toward greater energy independence. Technological breakthroughs will create new energy sources or make current sources more economically viable. And last but not least, there will be a more complete accounting of the environmental costs of energy generation and use, which will create new challenges and opportunities for waterfowl conservationists.

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