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The Energy Core: Working Energy for the System

The answers come up every morning.

A leading paradigm of wildlife management is that of energetics or energy budgeting. Animals can be analyzed as responding to the first laws of biology:

  1. collect energy;
  2. store energy;
  3. reproduce.
Food and habitat can be analyzed and energy used as the "currency" for modeling and decision making. Animals in harsh winter conditions need more energy from food sources; those with ample food need less cover or protection from the environment. Entire ecosystems operate on the fundamental energy concepts - only sources of energy are those of the sun; the system is always "running down"; there is always entropy. Animals have means to slow down energy loss. Humans who learn such lessons survive best.

There is ample evidence that fossil energy sources are limited. Energy costs increase; prices are unstable. U.S. energy use rates continue undiminished. Energy policy is difficult to discern. Complete exhaustion of the resource is anticipated, but the laws of supply and demand suggest prices will be higher; wars may be fought over limited supplies; avallability will be severely limited and unstable. Readily available supplies (for many reasons-- from cost to physical movement of oil and gas) are very likely to be very limited within 100 years. Most projections are for 60 years. The needs are to get ready; to advocate conservation; to demonstrate a belief in the projection; to demonstrate the principles that may assist future populations and their wildland; to prepare to stabilize the forests- the natural energy collectors that will be in high demand in the future.

We propose significant energy-based modeling in the manner of H.T. Odum and others. Valued energy that is stored or readily avallable or i6st most sldwly is one of the maln objective functions. The composite function grounded in the above laws--collection, storage, reproduction--are the fundamental needs. Once defined (e.g., the role of embodied energy), then creative work can begin to select the best choice from among thousands of alternatives.

We propose studies of the net energy to remove wood from each acre or alpha unit. One unit may be effective at collecting energy but if the cost of removing or processing it are excessive, the net amount may not be as great as that from another site.

We have already made significant gains in developing GIS map layers for solar radiation on surfaces and have produced large area radiation maps. The new maps needed are of solar radiation within the growing season of each alpha unit.Deer and other animals clearly respond to temperatures. We need to integrate the temperature in the animal zone, wind (convective heat losses), ground radiation (soil albedo), and other factors in the animal models so that we can see and understand the animals as energy budgeters. This knowledge will benefit domestic animal producers as well and wildlife science can feel proud of its contribution to much more than just to the good of the animals.

We need to explore and implement a set of energy conservation strategies. Substantial work has been done in developing such lists and strategies and a quickly achieved task will be to find this work that has been done, then fit it to the Ranch conditions for the future. Education for the skeptics will be needed but strongly held policy may suffice.

We need to create passive solar radiation structures, those that are easy (low energy cost) to build, easy to maintain, and are functional over the long term. The energy equations are grounded in energy costs to produce objects and concepts that work.. .and do so over the long run. The cost in energy per year of work is the criterion. A beautiful ancient vase is an example of a very functional object, working, beautiful, carefully maintalned because it was of great embodied energy and did needed work.

The managers may adopt the concept of attempting to gain space-heating/cooling energy self-sufficiency and achieving high levels of cost-effective energy conservation. This unit of Lasting Forests stays "up" on energy issues, develops strategic and tactical moves, and seeks to promote energy efficiency throughout the Forests. It provides consulting services. It uses existing energy models, seeks new ecosystem energy models, and develops strategies for obtaining maximum embodied energy within the system. It primarily works with and through System Central.

Alternative means for doing this are being attempted and others are under study. The sources include wood, water, wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, and others. The area has the potential to provide for some of these energy sources, most conspicuously solar and biomass (wood, etc.).

The managers of the area seeks to achieve capabilities for operation with minimum fossil fuel inputs so as to minimize any future disruption in achieving and maintaining the desired high-quality condition. Fossil energy shortages can endanger entire projects on the area. These in any way related to endangered species could be very serious and life-threatening for species.

The management has a general willingness to work with people seeking special use permits for areas to produce alternative energy. As always, compatibility with a stable or increasing R will be a major criterion. Costs will typically be borne by the applicant for a "special use" permit.

The key energy concepts fundamental to operation and activities of the environment of the area are:

Other related concepts are:

See solar water purification and collection potentials.Also wind and solar powered opportunities are pictured at another site.

Energy is so readily lost. There is ample evidence within biology that if life forms are to persist, they develop diverse strategies for energy capture and storage and behaviors to conserve energy already gained. Perhaps this is the most important message for people available from a study of biology. Therefore it may be useful to consider alternative forms of energy captive/storage and loss-reduction strategies (a list is available).

Estimated development costs.....$30,000

Estimated annual profit.......$5,000

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Last revision January 17, 2000.