Sustainable Ways to Keep The Lights On

Energy: the driving force of all life. Whether that be kinetic energy that moves our muscles or electricity that powers our homes (and essentially everything else nowadays), it is something that we have come to rely upon. The energy production we currently rely on has proven to not be sustainable and productive to the health of our planet. Sustainable energy, defined as energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, is the reality that we should be striving for. The technology to do this has dramatically expanded in recent years. Sustainable energy has the potential to be integrated into nearly every aspect of our lives seamlessly and efficiently. While it may not be publicly broadcasted, the goal of this post is to draw attention to the common (or seemingly outlandish) proposals to seamlessly introduce sustainable energy into our everyday lives.

Sunset behind a wind farm on the water.
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

At the moment there is a lot of active discussion as to what should be done in the revolution for a more sustainable future. Proposed plans like the Green New Deal are bold and a step in the right direction. However, to make real change, broad policies need to be combined with small, actionable steps that can have a large impact when done by millions of people.

There are many incredible ideas in the broad category on sustainable energy, but if I personally had to break it down, I would do so into four categories:

1. home

2. car/ transportation

3. business/ government

4. asst. (ideas not defined by other categories)

Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list of all renewable and sustainable energy sources in use (there are way too many proposals out there) but instead I hope to display the potential to transition into a majority sustainable energy situation worldwide. As Al Gore has proposed since his run for president, we need to find the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. [1]

I would also like to note that to live sustainably as a collective, there needs to be a combination of many industries; including energy, agriculture, food sourcing, infrastructure, and climate control, that need to be altered. Arguably, energy is the largest and easiest category to shift so I have decided to begin there. This may end up turning into an entire series on sustainability changes… but for now, let’s get into the categories!

1. It starts at home…

I would argue that the home is probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to lean towards renewable energy. Tesla, mostly known for their electric cars (we’ll get back to that in a minute), has also come through on something that I think is absolutely genius. Solar roof tiles. [2] Traditional solar panels have trended to be unappealing when compared to a blank roof.

In reality, solar is the most straightforward solution to the personal responsibility of energy consumption. Solar energy is arguably the least expensive and the easiest to incorporate into your home or business building, or any building for that matter. The fact that more states are giving subsidies and tax credits to those who install solar is a great way to encourage it. [3] Solar subsidies that pay homes back when they produce excess power that is sent to the grid is a great alternative and encouragement to install these panels into every new, or existing, building.

2. You need to get there somehow…

Planes (not yet), trains (sure), and automobiles (absolutely). The things we typically think about when the word transportation comes up (or maybe boats too if you live on the coast like me). The discussion around the benefits and costs of hybrid vs. electric vs. gasoline cars is a topic so expansive I could write an entirely separate article. Nevertheless, the crux of this issue comes to asking what kind of impact the emissions have on our environment. In total, the transportation industry accounted for 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. [4]

For a moment, consider how cool it would be if you could drive home in your electric car and then plug that car into a charging station that is powered by the solar panels in your home. Your life could literally be powered by the sun. Many companies are working on electric or hybrid vehicles and I cannot choose one to be the most outstanding in that field.

No matter what your thoughts, there are benefits to having fewer emissions coming from your car. The next steps in this bracket will be working to transition more gas-guzzling modes of transportation like planes and shipping vessels that carry regularly large loads into greener alternatives.

If you were really invested… “Flying cars could save us from climate change.” [5]

3. Who runs the world? Government…

The world is run by policy. Big government policies are often influenced by big interest lobbyists. Hopefully, I think as more people are becoming aware of this corrupt system, more corporations will begin to change.

This is an issue where the installation of wind or solar farms, or the transition of some power to hydroelectric, is something that could be done if government politicians weren’t in the pockets of big oil or gas industries. When politicians take their money, they are obligated to push for their interests instead of the interests of the American people.

Of course, I don’t want people who work in those industries to lose their jobs, but as a society, we need to transition into a realistic understanding that the carrying capacity of our planet is dangerously teetering on the edge of existence. If the energy powering “the grid” transitions to become primarily clean, it benefits everyone.

4. Bonus round…

This is probably my favorite one to discuss because it has the most potential… because how cool is this fabric that transfers energy from the sun and kinetic movement? [6] Or this walkway system that also transfers energy from the kinetic energy of steps. [7]

So cool!

And something that, if widely implemented, let’s say for example on sporting fields and busy walkways to start, it would easily pay for itself without ever changing a significant aspect of our lives.

The future

So with this in mind, let us dive into the real question: Why even bother with switching to sustainable energy? We get enough energy through coal, natural gas, and nuclear power right? If it costs more money, looks bad, and won’t provide us with enough energy to power the States, what’s the point?

Well, sure, that is something you could argue. However, I would argue that you are wrong.

Energy sources such as coal or nuclear power are not sustainable. If we want ourselves and our future grandchildren to live healthy lives, we need to do something to clean up the atmosphere ( aka. emit fewer carbon compounds over time) and learn to treat the Earth more like a beloved sports car and less like a junky trailer.

At the end of the day, I believe climate change is affecting every human on Earth. Yes, you read that correctly. Every. Human. On. Earth. Whether you see it or not, the world is changing around us and we need to do something about it. Now.

🌎✌🏻

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Analysis and musings on the systems of our planet.

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breaking my boredom by writing about big things — embrace intersectionality in the everyday

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