Annual Report 2002 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

17 Calling for energy conservation

David Pimentel, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and graduate students analyzed the future energy needs of the U.S. They found that renewable energy resources, even if implemented maximally, would replace only about half of the U.S. consumption of oil, natural gas, and coal. Alternative energy systems, such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power, and biofuels, if fully developed, would take up 17 percent of America's land area. The leading problem is the U.S. rate of energy consumption needed to maintain the current standard of living. Energy conservation is the only proven alternative. The researchers cited two of the 10 alternative energy sources reviewed—geothermal systems and the biofuels, ethanol, methanol, and vegetable oils—as not renewable and sustainable. The researchers recommended a conservation program—for individuals, communities, and industries—that conserves fossil fuel resources by using renewable resources and by reducing consumption. Pimentel's group states that other developed countries have proven that high productivity and high standards of living can be achieved with half of the energy expenditure of the U.S.

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