Researcher Celebrates Biodiversity by Investing in Clean Energy
Solar Power | October 10, 2013 | Posted by Fred Greenhalgh
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In his work studying tropical bats for the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), Tim Divoll has traveled to some of the most biodiverse regions of the world. He has observed bats thriving in a diverse, natural environment, and he has also visited places impacted by human activity and seen first-hand the impacts of development on fragile species.
Divoll recently returned from a trip to Manu National Park in the Peruvian Amazon, where he worked with an MIT post-doc on a project investigating mercury contamination in bats. The project compares levels of mercury found in bats from undeveloped jungle areas to that of bats found in areas downstream of the Amazon gold mining rush. “When visiting a pristine location you see the astounding diversity of a pristine environment,” Divoll said. “A state of natural balance allows for great diversity of species in the ecosystem, with many different species of bats filling specific niches in the food chain.”
While known predominantly for their work with birds, BRI has been studying bats because they, like birds, accumulate high levels of mercury in their bloodstream. In gold mining, mercury is used to amalgamate the ore, and later released into the ecosystem. Once in the ecosystem, it moves into the food chain through insects and small fish, which are preyed upon by bats and birds, which is how the predators accumulate harmful levels of the toxin.
Making the Global Local
Though Tim’s work takes him far from home, when he bought a house in Naples, ME, he decided to see what steps he could take to support a healthy ecosystem. “With my house, I could make my own choices about the way I would like to live,” Tim says. “When I looked into renewable energy, I found that solar offered the option that was most affordable for a regular person like myself, offering solid environmental benefits while also saving my household money.”
Tim invested in a 2.5kw solar electric array, which is projected to produce around 3,175kWh of electricity each year. Tim also took the opportunity to replace an aging domestic water heater with a high-efficiency electric tank, which will be powered by some of his solar production.
“Working for a nonprofit, you get used to working because you love what you do and the motives behind it,” Tim says. “It’s great when you can feel the same way about the energy fueling your home. I feel that I’m doing my part to keeping a sustainable environment. If everyone does their part, it adds up.”
Information on Tim’s work throughout North, Central, and South America is available on his BRI profile page. BRI’s other reports and publications are available at:briloon.org/hgcenter/publications. Biodiversity Research Institute is also a member of ReVision’s “Pay it Forward” campaign. If you or a friend go solar, you can elect for a $250 donation to be sent to BRI. More details at: revisionenergy.com/brisolar