More and more solar arrays are cropping up around the world, as countries move to replace oil and gas with sustainable energy sources. While the shift toward carbon-neutral power production has never been more crucial, few seem to recognize the counterproductive impact of building solar farms on previously forested land.
Take Rhode Island, for example, where loopholes in the state’s solar incentive programs allow developers to clear thousands of acres of forest in the name of green energy, even though experts like environmental scientist Scott Millar maintain that forests still do at least a 50 percent better job of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions than the solar panels that often replace them.
Merely 2.5 percent of U.S. solar power comes from urban areas, because it is so much cheaper to build on undeveloped land. Governments must offer proper incentive programs to protect the finite forested areas that remain, and instead direct green energy initiatives towards sites such as parking lots, airports, and previously polluted brownfields.