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SOME EXAMPLES FROM NATURE
THAT THE TIME FOR SOLAR ENERGY
IS NOW

As we look for different ways to overcome the energy crisis on this planet, hopefully as a society we will finally come to realize what most of us in the environmental field have known for some time- that a powerful source of clean energy is available to us and always has been.

That is, of course, solar energy derived from the sun. Tom Kay, the co founder of Eco-Mall, has been championing solar energy for many years, even before it was fashionable to do so. I remember Tom talking about solar energy as an important energy source over 20 years ago. I remember his quote; “Solar Energy will have its day soon! As the earth heats up, we should look up to the sun for the solution.”

Recently, with the new administration in Washington, more attention may finally be paid to this important source of energy that does not require digging up anything out of the ground or burning anything.

But since there are those who still challenge the logic of solar energy, I would like to offer two examples from nature that to me prove that the sun is a natural provider of energy.

The first example comes from the food chain in our oceans, as well as our bays and estuaries. That food chain generally begins when plankton, and specifically phyto plankton, ‘eats’ sunlight and converts it- transforms it- into energy.

This plankton is in turn eaten by other members of the food chain, such as shrimp and shellfish. The shrimp and shellfish are then eaten by larger members of the food chain such as fish. The point is that the food chain is fueled at the start by plankton which converts sunlight into energy. It all begins with the sun.

And if sunlight can fuel a food chain in our ocean, certainly it can be used as a source of energy for heating our homes, running our cars and maybe one day fueling our entire society.

If anyone needs another example from nature and science, we need only turn to the weather. Most storms are fueled by a powerful form of energy known as latent heat.

The weather on our planet Earth somewhat ‘begins’ when the sun sends its rays to us and they heat our planet. (If they can heat our planet why can't they heat our houses?)

Warm air rises, as most of us know. But when it rises over water and the molecules evaporate they also bring up to the atmosphere a powerful form of energy known as latent heat. Later on, when there is a sharp contrast between hot and cold and the atmosphere becomes what we call unstable, this powerful energy, this latent heat, is released into the atmosphere.

It is the release of this latent heat- a process which starts with the sun- that fuels storms and gives a hurricane the power to rip apart city. If latent heat is so that powerful that it can fuel a hurricane, can't it also be used for constructive purposes here at home? I believe it can. I’m also surprised that modern science hasn’t already paid more attention to this phenomenon.

I believe both examples- that of plankton converting sunlight into energy and latent heat fueling storms- are proof that the power and energy that we get from the sun, can, with the help of science can be utilized as energy source for pretty much running society.

Probably most of us reading this article are already aware of that. So how come solar energy isn’t more aggressively embraced by our government?

One explanation that I have heard is that because we have not yet built an infrastructure in our society to utilize solar energy, it is not currently cost effective to do so. (By infrastructure I mean the whole process of manufacturing, distributing and implementing the panels, materials, technology, etc. to make solar energy accessible and affordable throughout society.)

That shouldn’t be accepted as an excuse for rejecting solar energy; to the contrary, it should be the reason why we start building that infrastructure as soon as possible! The time for solar energy was actually yesterday. We shouldn’t have to wait for too many more tomorrows!

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Written by: Dave Street, Kids Eco Book- Kingdom of Clean


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