Yardley Voice – Going Green Solar Column – November 2013
by Mark Bortman
Time to sit back and remind ourselves that we should be thankful for all the things we take for granted. One of these is our electric system. Without a second thought, we know that every time we flip the switch, the lights go on.
Over a billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – live without access to electricity. This means limited light at night, no refrigeration, no communication. When we lose power for just a few hours, it seems that a huge wrench has been thrown into our works.
I was speaking with the manager of the UN’s Green Economy Team. He said that, without a doubt, lack of access to reliable energy is the main cause for poverty around the world.
Solar energy can help alleviate this problem.
There are some great non-profit organizations that are working to get low-cost solar lamps to people in rural villages. Without solar lights, these people have to use kerosene lanterns to see after the sun goes down. Not only is the dark smoke from these lanterns a health hazard, but the fuel is very expensive. The cost of the fuel traps many families in poverty.
The fuel for the solar lamps, on the other hand, is free! This means that the money normally spent on kerosene can go to nutrition, education or other important areas.
In addition, solar lamps give off no harmful smoke or pollution. Not only does this improve the health of the people using the lamps, it also helps to fight climate change.
It is estimated that the soot emitted by the kerosene lanterns contribute more to climate change than all the carbon dioxide release in Britain in a year. Not many times do you hear about a win-win-win scenario. But again, with solar, we have one.
And that is something for which we can all be thankful.