Today is Earth Day! Let's Reflect on the Work We Do to Help the Planet!
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
Every year, over 1 billion people in more than 193 different countries around the world come together to observe Earth Day on April 22. This holiday was originally held in 1970, and every year there are different themes and activities related to ecological stewardship for people to participate in. This year, the main theme of Earth Day is climate action, and the Biden Administration has actually planned a global climate summit to occur on this day! EARTHDAY.ORG, the official Earth Day organization, has also split the holiday into three distinct events across three days: April 20th was the Global Youth Summit’s appeal to world leaders, April 21st is the Hip Hop Caucus’s event for environmental justice, and April 22nd will be Teach for the Planet event where educators advocate for quality climate science education in curricula around the world.
To contribute some of our own ideas and reflections to the global conversation on Earth Day, we wanted to follow up on the community cleanup efforts our team has been up to over the past month. Last month, we implemented the #SWETrashTag Challenge, encouraging people to get out in their communities and clean up litter and debris. Not only does this kind of volunteer work help beautify our local environment and keep wildlife safe, it also helps improve property values and boost curb appeal, and gives neighbors an opportunity to spend some time and get to know each other in a productive, socially-distanced manner.
Recently, our CEO and President Taylor Bennett and our Director of Operations Mary Starr worked together to participate in the #SWETrashTag Challenge on our property. Given that our headquarters is on a busy highway between a number of large businesses, we get a fair share of litter building up in our green spaces. When Taylor and Mary had a few free moments in their extremely demanding schedules, they took it outside to clean up litter and care for the biome we all share!
Outside of our community engagement challenge, we also want to talk a little more about how the solar industry continues to take action for climate every day. We try to promote education on the benefits of renewables whenever we can, so let’s dive into some details on how solar energy directly mitigates environmental destruction. Solar power helps reduce water and air pollution, and the more solar we add to the grid, the more we can prevent future damage to these natural resources.
The mining and development of fossil fuels requires large amounts of water to harvest usable fuel, and waste water from these processes can threaten public health. The main culprits of fossil-fuel related water pollution come from coal mining and fracking. Both of these industries utilize massive quantities of water which can result in acid runoff in waterways and water tables, threatening wildlife and citizens. Oil production also threatens our water resources, especially our oceans: oil spills during the extraction or transportation of fuel can result in billions of dollars in damages, impact coastal economies, and seriously harm aquatic ecosystems.
In terms of air pollution, beyond the carbon-dioxide emissions that environmental advocates are most vocal about, coal-fired power plants contribute to 42% of mercury emissions, and ? of total sulfur dioxide emissions in the United States! Burning fossil fuels in our automobiles, trains, planes, and boats produces large quantities of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, which can cause respiratory complications in people, and result in unsightly smog pollution hanging over communities. There is a real need to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels - not just for the planet but for people’s health and livelihoods!
Of course, covering every home in America with solar panels won’t stop us from needing to use fossil fuels for some necessities, but the more solar we add to the grid, the more we reduce the demand for fossil fuels to support our nation’s electricity needs. The sun is the most abundant energy source known to man, producing 173,000 terawatts of solar energy per second. In fact, if we could harness all of the sun’s energy for just one hour, we could power the entire planet for a whole year!
This Earth Day, we encourage you to tap into your local ecosystem. If you can, get outside with family or friends and do your part to clean up litter in your community. Not only will it look great, it will make you feel great too! If you’re feeling motivated after that, you could participate in EARTHDAY.ORG’s virtual climate activism opportunities… Or you could call up Solar Wolf Energy to find out how eliminating your electricity expenses can also offset pollution! Happy Earth Day, from the Wolf Pack to you!