As global climate change awareness continues to grow, change in our daily activities is required if we want future generations to experience what we get to today. One significant change that can greatly benefit our environment is choosing a renewable energy source to power your home. There are a couple of different renewable energy sources to choose from; for example solar energy.
First off let’s address climate change. You may be wondering “what is climate change?”. According to NASA, “Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates (1)”. Research has found that the earth’s climate has changed tremendously since the early 20th century due to human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels has increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations which trap the heat reflecting off of Earth’s surface and thereby increases the earth’s average surface temperature, as seen in the graph below. The increase in the earth’s temperature has many consequences for our planet including, but not limited to, global land and ocean temperature increase, rising sea levels, ice loss at the poles and mountain glaciers, changes in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, cloud and vegetation cover, ocean acidification, increased occurrence of disease, food scarcity, and large-scale loss of biodiversity (1). As these changes occur, it becomes imperative to come up with solutions.
This graph shows the increase in temperature from 1951-1980 (Credit: Climate.nasa.gov) (1)
Solar energy is one of the many solutions to help mitigate climate change. Solar energy has many environmental benefits that could help slow down global climate change. A major benefit is the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) (2). Solar energy utilizes the sun’s energy to generate electricity without any harmful byproducts being emitted into our atmosphere. In addition to reducing pollutants into our atmosphere, it will also prevent health issues. By decreasing greenhouse gas pollutants, we are able to prevent $167 billion in health and environmental damages (3). Health related air pollutants such as nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other particulate matter can be decreased with solar energy. This can prevent cases of chronic bronchitis, respiratory and cardiovascular issues (2).
By switching to solar energy, you are also reducing the strain on finite resources like oil, coal and natural gas (4). These resources have an expiration date compared to solar energy which will never run out. As our population grows, our dependency on resources also grows leading to overexploitation of fossil fuels to the point where it will just be too expensive to extract. The extraction of these resources is detrimental to the environment as large amounts of pollution are released during the process. Additionally, it requires a vast amount of water. In contrast, solar energy significantly reduces the amount of environmental impacts of this extraction process compared to fossil fuels.
Lastly, solar energy also reduces water pollution and scarcity. Fossil fuels use a large amount of water in almost every step; from extraction to electrical generation. The overuse of water during the process calls for great concern of water scarcity. By switching over to solar, water consumption will drop in 36 states which would be enough to hydrate 1.3 million households (3). Additionally, because solar requires no water during generation, it reduces competition for agricultural business that heavily depends on water. Energy generated from fossil fuels also heavily pollute water, about 72% pollution comes from coal fired power plants (5). Power plants dump toxic metals into our water every day such as mercury, lead, and arsenic which has been linked to cancer, neurological disorders, and other negative environmental impacts.
Solar energy has a number of benefits to our environment and our health making it a great solution to combat global climate change. If you want to find out how you can make a difference with your very own solar system call 361-360-1800 to schedule your FREE energy consultant. We will tell you exactly how much your system will reduce your carbon footprint!