How Do Solar Panels Help The Environment?
Everyone knows that switching to solar energy is an environmentally beneficial way to reduce or even completely eliminate your monthly electric bill. But you may be surprised to learn just how environmentally friendly going solar turns out to be.
Saving The Air We BreatheThe most obvious benefit of generating your own power from sunlight is the reduction in greenhouse gases and other pollutants that conventional power plants relentlessly spew into our air.
Not just burning, but even mining fossil fuels is an inherently destructive process that releases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane into the earth’s atmosphere. Besides contributing to climate change, when we disrupt and poison the balance of gases nature intended us to breathe, we pay the price by suffering more respiratory illnesses, like asthma and even cancer.
Generating solar energy, on the other hand, is purely productive. It emits no harmful gases to disrupt the atmosphere’s natural equilibrium or harm our children’s still developing lungs.
Saving The Water We DrinkOne of the Power Plant Industry’s best kept, dirty, not so little, secrets is that, besides the toxins and greenhouses gases emitted into our air, they’re also the biggest polluters of our water supply as well.
A 2013 study by the EPA found that power plants dump more toxins like mercury, arsenic, and lead into our waterways than all of the next nine industries combined! These heavy metals act like neurotoxins. They can disrupt normal development in children, harm babies in the womb, damage everyone’s internal organs, and even cause cancer.
The worst part is that, instead of degrading, heavy metals accumulate. So, we can’t keep using power sources that dump them into the earth’s water supply indefinitely without eventually dumping them into our own. Even for the limited time we can keep them out of our drinking water, they still wind up impacting us by traveling up the food chain and accumulating in our bodies.
Solar panels, on the other hand, generate electricity without using water at all. You don’t have to pollute the earth’s water with dangerous toxins whenever you make a smoothie or turn on a light.
Saving Our LandBut industrial power plants don’t just pollute our air and water. They’re a triple threat – emphasis on threat.
Coal-fired plants produce millions of tons of solid toxic waste every year as well. It gets quietly dumped into abandoned mines, landfills, and other places where it destroys fragile ecosystems and can be hazardous to nearby residents.
There’s only a finite amount of space on the planet. If we don’t switch to renewable energy sources like solar, eventually the toxic sludge produced by power plants is going to wind up in all our backyards.
Saving The Planet’s Natural ResourcesBecause industrial power plants produce energy through essentially destructive processes, they aren’t renewable sources of energy. Elements gradually formed in the earth’s crust over the course of its four and a half billion-year life are, in an instant, irrevocably destroyed. The productive nature of solar power, on the other hand, makes it not just a clean energy source, but a 100% renewable one as well.
Saving Our ClimateThe U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2018 electrical power plants produced 1,763 million metric tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. That accounts for a staggering 33% of total U.S. emissions!
That’s why a recent study from scientists at the University of California published in Nature concluded that keeping global warming out of catastrophic range will require, not just building no new power plants, but also shutting down old ones.
If we want to preserve the planet for future generations and keep present ones healthy, weaning ourselves from toxic and destructive non-renewable energy sources will be crucial. Switching to solar energy is a way each one of us can make our own contribution.