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Just 11 years to avert disaster

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1801 (Published 16 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1801

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Re: Just 11 years to avert disaster

I wonder why, when advocacy of solar farms figures so prominently in the effort to reduce carbon (dioxide) emissions, no one ever considers the enormous net carbon footprint of a field in which green plants are replaced by photovoltaic cells? Every photon captured by a photovoltaic cell is of course unavailable to a chloroplast, for a plant to use the energy to fix a molecule of carbon dioxide. Also, given the relatively low efficiency of photovoltaic cells, it is likely that solar farms actually increase--rather than reduce-- the net levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In other words, the use of massive solar farms to produce electricity essentially does the same thing as massive deforestation, making the situation even worse.

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 April 2019
Joel Brind
Professor
Baruch College, City University of NY
1 Bernard Baruch Way, New York, NY 10010