To say that humans benefit from solar energy is an understatement. It’s more cost effective and creates better jobs, sure. However, the most important benefit of solar energy is its contribution to our climate. Here, we look at the environmental benefits of solar energy. Learn how it fights deforestation and the increase of farmlands.
The Amazon Forest vs. the Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy
The Amazon is a vast forest on the northern side of South America. Wind carries phosphorous-rich dust from the Sahara Desert to settle there. Phosphorous is important for plant growth. As a result, 2,700,000 square miles of lush forest have been thriving there for tens of millions of years.
Esprit Smith, a member of NASA’s Earth Science News Team, explains why the Amazon is so important to our climate. “When healthy,” she says, “it absorbs billions of tons of carbon dioxide a year through photosynthesis. By removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the Amazon helps to keep temperatures down and regulate climate.” (See more about climate change below).
Carbon dioxide is the result of burning fossil fuels. Humans have relied on fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, for generations. Not only do fossil fuels create carbon dioxide, but their availability is also limited. Humans’ usage rate after 200 years has almost completely depleted them. In fact, if we don’t slow down, they will run out in 50 – 100 years.
The environmental benefits of solar energy address the same issue from another angle. Firstly, solar energy is limitless and reliable. In other words, sunlight will continue for many lifetimes to come. No human action can change that. Additionally, harnessing solar energy creates significantly less carbon dioxide than harnessing fossil fuels.
Humans are Harming Earth’s Climate
Human life is dependent on the Amazon Forest and other rainforests for climate change. Carbon dioxide absorbs and radiates heat. As a result, the more carbon dioxide in our climate, the warmer it gets. For the Earth to remain habitable, we need rainforests and other resources to protect our climate.
However, humans are destroying the largest rainforest on Earth through deforestation. “Cutting the forest is interfering with its carbon uptake; that’s a problem,” says the National Geographic. Humans aren’t the only problem.
Natural changes in the landscape “has increased emissions of these and other greenhouse gases,” according to National Geographic. For this reason, humans need to be especially sensitive to how their actions affect the Earth’s climates. The environmental benefits of solar energy reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
Furthermore, humans burnt down much of the Amazon Forest to make farmland. This farmland is more lucrative to some farmers than clean air and a habitable planet. However, this creates further problems for the rest of us. For example, cows naturally release methane gas, a fossil fuel. So, that part of land has no rainforest absorbing greenhouse gases. Instead, a farm generates even more greenhouse gases.
Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy
While the Amazon Forest has been particularly reliable in humanity’s fight against global warming, things have changed. The Amazon Forest is now emitting greenhouse gases of its own. Fossil fuels are a disaster for the climate. Regardless, they’re running low anyway.
That makes solar energy invaluable to life on Earth. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (OEE) lists additional environmental benefits of solar energy.
- Reduce Water Scarcity
Solar energy reduces water consumption in 36 states. That’s enough to hydrate 1.3 million households. Water isn’t a renewable resource, especially in the context of energy production.
- Improve Pollution
With more solar energy, less fossil fuel factories operate. Reducing the number of fossil fuel factories in operation reduces destruction to the environment. In fact, it could prevent $167 billion in health and environmental damages.
- Better Health Outcomes
Burning fossil fuels creates a domino effect of problems that result in health issues, as well as death for people around the world. A warmer climate is the cause of melting glaciers in Antarctica and the rising sea level.
Researchers conducted a study that lead them to estimate that 10.2 million people died in 2012 because of pollution. According to OEE, “Reducing pollutants can prevent unnecessary health care costs and save more than 25,000 lives [in America alone.]
How You Can Do Your Part
While every human has an interest in our climate, many aren’t aware of how dire the situation is. Educate yourself and others (pace yourself, don’t be too bothersome). Then contact local, state, and federal government and share your concerns.
Weatherize your home and use energy efficient appliances. Energy-efficient light bulbs go a long way too. Do everything in your power to stop “electricity leaks.” In other words, unplug appliances when not in use. For example, your desktop computer or exercise bike won’t lose any love for you if you unplug them between uses.
The easiest and most impactful way to do your part is to shift to solar energy. It’s practically maintenance free. It basically has a “set it and forget it” quality, and you don’t have to pay high prices for fossil fuel energy. Most importantly, the environmental benefits of solar energy allow you to leave a cleaner, healthier planet for future generations.