Some of us actually believe that people don’t change. I certainly believed that in the past. But when I see the capacity to change in myself, my mind has reconsidered in this matter. While change can be made, I do believe that it is sometimes difficult for us to get there.
And while we are not ready for change, change is all around us. Day changes into night. Summer changes into Autumn. The climate is changing.
When things do change, it is not always for the better.
How is climate changing?
It is changing when long-term weather patterns are altered by human activities in the world.
It has something to do with the over-consumption of… food. Intensive farming destroys the natural habitat while producing maximum yield. The soil erodes if not managed properly. The land degrades into dry regions with no bodies of water, vegetation and wildlife.
It has something to do with the over-consumption of… material goods. Our culture of consumerism has encouraged us to purchase more goods than we need. It has led to globalization, producing more industrial pollution and car exhaust.
It has something to do with the over-consumption of… natural resources. Deforestation gives us trees to be used as fuel or timber. Without trees, carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere, producing a blanket that traps the radiation from the sun.
It has something to do with the over-consumption of… fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. The burning of fossil fuels gives us electricity. But, it also produces man-made carbon dioxide. And it is not very clean.
All this over-consumption has warmed the planet. The rise in average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans is called… global warming.
Then we have immense changes like glacial retreats, sea level rise, extreme events…
The list of environmental issues we face goes on and on…
So how are we going to change?
Change happens when we alter our mindset and thinking.
This happens when we realize that centralized governments have limitations in making change happen. We begin to recognize that as individuals we have the power to overcome these limitations.
We come to see that the planet’s life support system is deteriorating. This is happening at a rate where we are being called to create rapid change. We then discover that the tools we have to change are slow in the response rate…
Tools like the passing of laws and the adjustment of policies.
According to the World Resource Institute earlier this year, the U.S. will not be able to achieve a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The U.S. made a pledge at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference that it would raise its climate change policy to a new political level.
The government has made a commitment it cannot keep. Its tools are not effective to make the emissions standards stricter.
Change happens when we are able to see that government alone can no longer be the solution to our problems. We must be creative thinkers in order to solve our own environmental problems.
One solution is to lay down solar panels onto our national roads.
The idea comes from a creative thinker – an electrical engineer who has been putting this idea to work.
Scott Brusaw of Sagle, Idaho–based Solar Roadways Inc. is currently at work building a solar parking lot with the help of a small business contract from the Federal Highway Administration. Having built a solar road panel prototype successfully, he has the opportunity to bring his compelling vision into being.
His vision is that we can build solar panels we can drive on.
If we replace our asphalt with a solar technology, it may be used to power our nation’s grid. It can power our grid of traffic lights, signals, etc.
The grid as we know it can be decentralized. Homes can get their electricity locally. Instead of current flowing through long-distance transmission lines to our homes, the current can come from solar panels on the road just a short ride away.
We can avoid the 10% loss of power to heat when electricity is moved through long distance transmission lines made from copper cables.
We can forget about the 60% of energy lost through heat at coal-fired generation plants.
You think that’s unbelievable? Think about this percentage…
Some of us are reporting that more than 90% of energy going into electricity production does not even light a room or run a motor in the end.
That is shocking. No pun intended.
If we use solar panels on our roads, we eliminate energy losses. We also reduce our carbon footprint when we reduce the amount of coal-fired generating plants in our country. We prevent the loss of power when transformers and transmission line fail.
The impact of terrorist attacks on the grid will no longer be on our minds. By decentralizing, we create a resilient system of micro-grids that can act autonomously when shutdowns occur elsewhere.
The grid we created in the past is not the grid we need for the 21st century.
The current grid is outdated and it cannot distribute the kinds of power that we are developing today. Local power generation from renewable sources gives us the self-sustaining infrastructure we need to ensure reliability and efficiency in the future.
It’s great to see the Federal Highway Administration working with Solar Roadways. I believe we will have to work together at all levels to make change for the better.
It’s not that easy.
The electricity industry has to be open to new ways of thinking. Government must have the vision to champion new ideas. There will be times when we cannot wait for the government to lead the way for us.
If those in power are impotent in the ways of solving our problems, “we the people” must find ways to get things done.