The Sun’s heat makes liquid water on our planet possible. And all life that we know of needs liquid water to survive.
Changes in the Sun’s brightness can change global temperatures. Luckily, the Sun, like most middle-aged stars, shines steadily and reliably.
Almost all living things rely on the steady light and heat of the Sun.
Aside from its heat and visible light, the Sun also shines in ultraviolet (UV) light. Ozone in Earth’s upper atmosphere blocks much of the UV. However, pollution can weaken the ozone shield. Then the Sun’s UV light can harm living things on the ground and in the top layers of the oceans. Even when the ozone shield is strong, the UV that gets through help form smog from car exhausts and other pollution.
The heat and light of the Sun can be harnessed to generate electricity in the form of solar energy, which is becoming cheaper and more widespread, allowing us to burn less fossil fuels like coal or oil, as the burning of these fuels causes global warming by emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps the Sun’s heat.
Top Four Ways Solar Positively Impacts the Environment
- Going solar will reduce greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions: The average home consumes just under 13,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Even a modestly-sized solar energy system can easily reduce that number by 80%, while many can even approach 100%. Even at these levels, the environmental impact of solar is substantial. Over twenty years, producing just 80% of the average home’s annual energy requirements, a solar energy system will offset the equivalent CO2 emissions from over 150,000 pounds of coal burned, or the greenhouse gas emissions from 45 tons of landfill waste!
- Add an electric vehicle (EV) and drive on sunshine: It’s pretty obvious that driving an electric car means fewer, if any, visits to the petrol station. Opting for an EV also means offsetting 100% of a traditional car’s harmful C02 emissions.
- Solar reduces water pollution: This one is a little less obvious, but certainly one of the biggest environmental advantages of solar. While all manufacturing processes require some water, including those used to make solar panels, the total amount of water needed to generate solar electricity is dramatically less than more traditional electricity sources. Older technologies such as nuclear, natural gas and coal-fired facilities, all require massive amounts of water for cooling purposes. With solar energy, there’s almost no risk to local water resources, nor does their operation strain local supplies by competing with agriculture, drinking systems, and other vital water needs.
- Solar reduces strain on finite resources: Global population will continue to grow, but our Earth only has a finite amount of oil, coal and natural gas to give up. The sun is Earth’s most abundant energy source, producing a staggering 173,000 terawatts of solar energy every second! That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total combined energy use, and it’s available again and again. In contrast, fossil fuels are dirty and totally non-renewable. At some point, they will simply be gone, or the cost of finding and extracting them will be way too expensive for our strained population. If we don’t change, the resulting damage to our environment and strain to our financial infrastructure may simply be unrepairable. Going solar is the best way to hedge against the reality of dwindling resources.