Solar Power Fights Climate Change, Poverty, and Lung Cancer

Sat, 2013-09-28 07:00Don Lieber
Don Lieber's picture

Solar Power Fights Climate Change, Poverty, and Lung Cancer

My writing for DeSmog, and other blogs, has focused on the problems related to climate change.  The burning of fossil fuels is at the root of these problems. 

The fossil fuel industries (oil, coal, gas) spend millions of dollars in PR campaigns and political contributions to downplay the consequences of their continued monopoly on world energy while portraying non-fossil fuel alternatives, like solar power, as impractical and too expensive to meet the energy needs of the world.   

The large oil, coal and gas companies don’t want us to be aware, for example, that renewables already account for up to 20% of total global electricity production, according to one French-based study.  A recent report in Scientific American states that renewables (solar, wind, hydro, together) will soon become the ‘second most important’ global energy source’ (after coal) and are “becoming cost competitive with fossil fuels”.    

While governments have been slow to support the widespread introduction of renewables (despite the scientific necessity), awareness of private and non-governmental programs, such as that of the WakaWaka Foundation, helps provide the public more confidence in the inevitable, necessary shift toward solar, wind and other non-fossil fuel sources which don’t wreck our climate.   

Take the example of one new solar manufacturer.  WakaWaka, a Netherlands-based NGO, provides solar products to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. WakaWaka runs several programs which combat extreme poverty AND promotes the use of solar power.  The foundation develops climate education kits for local communities and schools; provides micro-enterprise support  for start-up solar power entrepreneurs (including the provision of micro-community loans as necessary); and, donates solar products directly to some of the most isolated, poorest people on Earth, including those in humanitarian crisis zones.   Current programs are in Haiti, Africa and South America; they recently began a program serving a Syrian refugee community.

Their focus is on ‘‘off the grid” communities who otherwise depend on indoor kerosene – a potent greenhouse gas emitter which is also highly toxic to human health (particularly to the lungs).  According to the WakaWaka website:

There are an estimated 1.5 billion people, around the world, who are dependent on portable kerosene lamps for their sole nighttime lighting.  In addition to being a potent greenhouse gas source, the toxins emitted by Kerosene combustion, according to Waka, is profoundly damaging to the lungs, comparable “…to the dangers of smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.…. these people should not wait for the arrival of old-fashioned, large scale energy grids which largely run on fossil energy.”

The flagship program is the provision of small solar powered lamps.  In some cases they are provided at low cost to international NGOs who then distribute them locally – in other cases they are donated directly to communities in need (over 12,000 in Haiti, for example).  

These lamps are small (I have one), provide excellent bedside lighting (very bright, and can adjust for dimmer preferences) and last approximately 24 hours on a full charge.   (It takes 4 to 6 hours in sunlight to get full charge - about half that if you plug it into your computer or wall socket FYI).   



(photos: Don Lieber)

This is but one example of how solar power is becoming – slowly but surely – more prevalent as a power source, even in some of the most remote areas.   

So spread the word about WakaWaka - and the progress of other solar programs (and other non-fossil fuel renewables like wind and offshore ocean turbines, while you are at it).  

If you are so inclined, WakaWaka is offering special holiday solar-power gift ideas (including the bedside reading lamp as pictured).  FYI:  Alll funds from sales support their solar-power assistance programs.   

Supporting solar power (and and other renewable sources) now will help quicken the necessary transition away from non-fossil fuel sources.    And, as I reported on DeSmog earlier this month, there is no time to waste in making that transition: climate change due to runaway greenhouse gas emissions is occurring 10 times faster than at any time in the past 65 million years.  

  
Children in Syrian refugee camp (left) and Kenya, with solar powered lamps.  Below: Schoolteacher in Kenya.  Photos courtesy WakaWaka Foundation.  


Below: Author’s cat with the WakaWaka solar power reading lamp.   


Previous Comments

Thanks, Don-    Great to see there's Iight at the end of the proverbiaI tunneI           Finding info Iike this [[particuIarIy success stories,eg one-fifth of the worId's eIectricity = aready being produced via renewabes !–& Love the soIar powered Iamps]] is a boost of additionaI motivation for so many of us for whom the seemingIy overwheIming infuence of the oiIest among us can be a reaI weight       –B/C these are proof that we are N0T wasting our time & energy, these things are not ony doabIe, they're being done where depraved indifference doesn't have such a viceIike grip as it does here       In this spirit, Iike-minded foIks Iike me renew determination to, say, be a presence at our IocaI ”GIobaI Frackdown” 0ctober 19                                SoIutions! –Sherrie, New York                                         

  

From the pie chart on page 6 of the report you linked to, if you take out fossil fuels, nuclear and hydraulic, you are left with 4.1% of world electricity production. What a joke! 

Maybe you meant to reply to the original article and not my post.  Umm… So you're saying that its bad if renewable energy sources are gaining a foot hold? If you look at the graph on page 10, you'll see pretty much what the American Utilities are afraid of;

http://www.energies-renouvelables.org/observ-er/html/inventaire/pdf/14e-...

Solar Photovoltaic has gone from 1.4 to 61.6 TWh in 10 years which is a 4400% increase.  Clearly solar is not just for science fairs anymore. Not that I expect the trend to hold, but its clear that solar will have a radical impact on the global power grid in 10 to 20 years.

Now the reason the utilities are worried is that increased use of solar absolutely kills their business model.  Solar panels put out power when the grid needs it most during the day.  Its well known that the grid is built to supply for the very few peak days that happen during the year.  (In the UK, the post royal wedding power spike was 2.4 GigaWatts, or about 5 standard coal power plants.)

Even if the power plants aren't active and in use, they must be staffed and kept running as back ups. And that costs money, which results in increased energy bills.  Which results in more solar deployment… Which… is a vicious circle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicious_circle

From the first pie chart:  total world solar electricity is 0.3%!

From the second pie chart:  total world solar electricity from renewables is 1.4%!

Solar is a minor annoyance to fossil electricity, which will have to be there at night. Nuclear, with its impressive third place 11.7% in the top pie chart, can actually replace some of those fossil fuel plants.

Check out Ozzie Zehner on solar:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ9-jYfpwfw

Solar works at night.  Everyone knows that.  To use solar at night, we use these things called 'batteries'.  Batteries store electricity we then use that electricity to run things.

I spoke with a bed and breakfast who had their power cut when the floods hit Calgary (utilities do that).  This place was unaffected because it used solar.  It was running day AND night.  The guys next door had to leave town because they relied on the power grid.

You're quoting some sort of anti-green-propagandist.  Wow… “solar cells are as dangerous to the environment as nuclear waste.”  He sounds like a Lomborg apologist.

A real scientist would do a comparison study on toxins.  Have you really looked at what goes into a car?  Or a power grid?  Or a power plant?  Did you know that the natural gas industry legally pumps H2S into your home?  Do you know why we have regulations on how much heavy metals can be in your food?  In Alberta, we dump fracking fluids on farmer's fields.  Its the same everywhere there is industry near farms.  (You use natural gas don't you Canman?  And you like eating heavy metals?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide#Toxicity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sludge

Listening to that guy was like an anti-climate science gish galop.  I already knew pretty much everything he was talking about from cost to toxicity, to natural air conditioning. (My house has 2 huge spruces out front… cold in winter, and cool in summer.) You'd be surprised to learn how they cool their homes in Africa.  (Hint, its free!)  He's wrong on all points across the board.  I'd be happy to explain anything you don't understand Canman.

Here's something Ozzy didn't cover… A coal plant tailings pond rupture;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_Fossil_Plant_coal_fly_ash_slurry_s...

Does this sound safe to you?

On January 1, 2009 the first independent test results, conducted at the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry laboratories at Appalachian State University, showed significantly elevated levels of toxic metals (including arsenic, copper, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, and thallium) in samples of slurry and river water.

Anyways, I'm quoting a conservative utility think tank. These guys are paid by the utilities to help them identify and plan their future.  I don't think that they would claim that they will be suffering from a disruptive event as some sort of joke.

Sorry about the misattribution of the link. Got confused by the word solar in your first link (http://grist.org/climate-energy/solar-panels-could-destroy-u-s-utilities...).

Here's solar costs for Canada so that you can work it out yourself;

http://www.appropedia.org/Review_of_solar_levelized_cost

 

The fact that he only has a high school education and a drug addiction problem is also food for thought.

Global warming has continued absolutely unabated.  If you can read, you know this.

I recomend that anyone who agrees with Chas, should probably start by you know, reading something on it.  Here's the IPCC web page.  The oceans section is pretty interesting on how many exajoules of energy are being stored there right now.

http://www.ipcc.ch/

Here's the ocean section so Chas can read for the very first time tonight;

http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5_WGI-12Doc2b_FinalDraft_Chapter03.pdf

How about that Arctic ice melt Chas?  Did you know that water stores a lot of heat?  Is Rush trying to pioneer the colder water melts ice theory? He might think that.  Afterall he only has a high school diploma.  And we all know how smart highschoolers are.  I mean, they know everything!

Oilman, despite all your hand waving and lengthy sermonizing on the subject, most people see the idea that “All the extra heat is going to the deep oceans” as a AGW equivalent to the old excuse of “The dog ate my homework”.

In other words, it's such a reach that most folks aren't buying it, sorry.

And please, no more preaching, thank you! Most here have read as much or more than you on this subject. Just watch the continued lack of movement on the issue as we approach the yearly “Climate conferences” come and go without an agreement being reached (again!) as proof that nobody cares.

It seems that the publication of a definitive and honest report on climate science (AR5) seems to be responsible for an outbreak of Dunning Kruger Syndrome.

Luckily there is a simple and quick cure, go to the nearest library and read up on science and ethics since most AGW deniers like LJ lack this attribute too.

Ian,

Worse still would be the “paradigm paralysis” going on at all levels of the CAGW groups.

IPCC diagnosis: paradigm paralysis, caused by motivated reasoning, oversimplification, and consensus seeking; worsened and made permanent by a vicious positive feedback effect at the climate science-policy interface.”

http://judithcurry.com/2013/09/28/ipcc-diagnosis-permanent-paradigm-para...

True believers apparently can't see the forrest for the trees while it is quite plain to see by 'oustsiders' who were never swept away by the hype.

As the wise man once said, “whatever floats your boat”.

What is this movement you keep talking about?  There is no movement.  I didn't get a badge or anything.  I'm motivated by clear obvious lies and false hoods spread by by people like you, and nothing else.  You should be ashamed of yourself Lara.  Really, you should.

Do you guys feel a particular need to lash out and Troll Desmogblog lately?  Are you hoping this article will get more attention somehow?  (I'd have picked a different article if I was you.) Did you notice that Chas Rasper voted down an article linking to conservative material?  That's how off base you guys really are.  You guys are afraid of the truth.

Anyways, there is nothing to back what you say.  Your statements are backed by high schoolers and wishful thinking of all things. In short its backed by feelings;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjD0e1d6GgQ

An interesting carp about heat an oceans but its not new to anyone but you, personally.  If you had read FAR (1990), the first IPCC report you'd have noticed that they were very concerned about the effects of heat in the oceans.  Naturally that is why the world scientific community decided to build buoys to get more detailed measurements (than the navy already had) of what was going on with the oceans.

The fact that this same data is accurate, and is used to directly track enemy submarines with sonar by US war heros is kinda going over your head. (I bet if you look hard enough, you'll find military funding for that data.)  Hmmm… I wonder if the ocean dead zones have less back ground noise.

Now since you are cherry picking short term data sets to back what you say, then I think its important for you to include short term weather effects in your statements. 

Global surface air temperatures are strongly affected by short term weather events such as El Nino (heating), and La Nina (cooling) which dramatically affect global surface temperature readings.  Here's Hansen 2012;
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2013/20130115_Temperature2012.pdf

Since I know you won't read it, I'll leave you with this useful quote.
Indeed, the current stand-still of the 5-year running mean global temperature may be largely a consequence of the fact that the first half of the past 10 years had predominately El Nino conditions, while the second half had predominately La Nina conditions (Nino index in Fig. 1).

But all this is a waste of time.  As usual, we're talking about short term cherry picked events as we go up the global warming escalator.

From “The Ecologist”

The forgotten crisis: Why is no one in Britain debating climate change?

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2101019/the_forgotten_crisis_why_is_no_one_in_britain_debating_climate_change.html

Its a fact.  The world is heating up, we're the cause, its a serious concern, we can solve it, and its not too late.

Here's how Denial works;

  1. Deny the problem exists
  2. Deny we're the cause (the consensus is us)
  3. Deny it is even a problem
  4. Deny we can solve it
  5. Claim its too late to anything about it.

Britain already has been making a concerted effort to clean up their CO2 emissions.  At least that's what Trolls at other newspaper websites keep throwing at me.

Your article was by Alex Stevenson, a political pundit.  Not a source of information or news.  Every single political pundit in the last Alberta election was wrong.  They had no idea about what was going on.  The fact that Alex's article is full of the usual Gish Gallop misinformation doesn't bode well.

[x]

Many states are already on track to meet or beat the renewable energy targets laid out for them by the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, according to a new report from Earthjustice, which is calling on the agency to strengthen the plan in order to promote more ambitious renewable energy growth.

The Clean Power Plan sets out different emissions reduction...

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