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The Alphabet Series 2000: E is for Energy
Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
April 12, 2000
"Here comes the sun. And I say. It's alright" — George Harrison, 1969
Here on planet Earth, April has been distinguished as Earth Month, to honor the beginning of the global environmental movement on April 22nd,1970. Organized as a teach-in, the first Earth Day has now evolved into something much bigger. This year's theme is New Energy for a New Era, in honor of the start of the 21st century. Technically speaking when it comes to solar energy, New Energy is an Oxymoron.
If there are two things that San Diego has a great deal of, it is Sunlight and transportation needs. In respect to the growing environmental crisis, I think it is time that the two are no longer mutually exclusive. As far fetched as solar powered transportation may seem, the growing cost of fossil fuel makes alternative energies more likely than ever.
There is absolutely no reason why this region can not adopt a solar energy agenda with the aim of reducing fuel costs and environmental pollution. The mere idea of energy self sufficiency should have us all exploring ways of incorporating solar solutions into our life. Keeping in mind that we use the ample amount of sunlight available to us to generate tourist dollars, why is it we are slow to use clean energy to generate a healthier living environment.
Living in Leucadia, the nearest gas stations are affiliated with multinational corporations that have done nothing but profit from the slow affixation of our biotic systems. Chevron, Texaco, and Shell are all guilty of environmental crimes, yet continue on as if their dirty business isn't threatening the health of every California resident. Now that we know that clean renewable energy resources are available to us, it is our moral and ethical responsibility, as sentient citizens of planet earth, to embrace these new solar technologies as the sensible solutions they are.
First on our new solar agenda should be the planning and implementation of a maglev system that will once and for all solve traffic congestion as we know it. Imagine the amount of developable space that can be freed up if we were to slowly evolve beyond the automobile. All the cities now faced with an affordable housing shortage can convert parking lots into housing units along the rail corridors. No longer will municipalities be force to waste prime real estate on polluting businesses such as Car Country Carlsbad. Clean water issues and beach closures will become increasingly rare as solar electric trains reduce the amount of run-off due to impermeable roadways and oily built up on those roads become a thing of the past.
If SANDAG was really interested in Smart Growth they would begin to build a solar infrastructure now. As the coaster ridership begins to grow, revenues can be funneled towards the acquisition of emerging technologies, and the expansion of existing mass transit infrastructure. Also, builders should be required to install a residential rooftop solar electric system in every new home and commercial development.
Unlike the solar hot water systems frequently seen on the rooftops of California homes, solar electric systems convert sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic technology. Photovoltaic technology has been used on satellites for over 40 years and has only recently become affordable to homeowners. Solar photovoltaic panels are thinner a than those used for the heating of water and they are usually mounted flush on rooftops or on the ground.
Coastal Southern California can no longer afford to ignore the renewable resource that greets us every morning. To make the switch easier, and sensing enormous potential from inexhaustible resource, two companies have opened a San Diego office to market their packaged solar electric systems. Here is a chance for homeowners to set an example and show their elected officials that doing things the old way will only acerbate our current dependency on failed technologies, and unstable governments.
In the next few years, the call for environmentally sustainability will only grow louder. Not only will solar alternatives promote sustainable human communities and a healthier living environment, our conversion to them will send a clear message to the the oil barons in Washington D.C. that Californians are serious when we say California will not allow our coastline to be held hostage by oil interests, refusing to admit their feeding frenzy is over.
It is high time we got the oil monkey off our backs and start making responsible decisions. To further pursue the solar conversation, I suggest readers seek out the Altair Energy SunChoiceSM booth at the San Diego EarthFair 2000, on 16th in Balboa Park.