It’s estimated that human activity currently uses energy at about 17 terawatts (trillions of watts) through the burning of fossil fuels.
Axel Kleidon of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry points to laws of thermodynamics, which say that if humans harvest more and more energy from the wind and ocean currents to replace the polluting technology, it could actually affect the climate as much as current greenhouse gas emissions.
“Large-scale exploitation of wind energy will inevitably leave an imprint in the atmosphere,” writes Kleidon in a paper to be published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
He says that while extracting large amounts of wind energy won’t significantly diminish the winds, it would change precipitation, turbulence and the amount of sun reaching the surface.
His model indicates that the more wind energy is harnessed, the expected gains from building new large turbine facilities just won’t be achieved.
Photo: Xcel Energy