Category Archives: Solar Power

Righteousness or Reality?

Righteousness

Just when I thought I’d heard everything possible from the Trump Administration’s attack on our environment, including doing all they could possibly dream up to deny that man’s use of fossil fuels to power our cars and utilities and lives contributes to our planet’s climate crisis, comes this headline:

Energy chief Rick Perry says fossil fuels can prevent sexual assault

Wait.

What?

It will not surprise anyone that Perry, the former Governor of Texas and 2016 Presidential Candidate who is now President Trumps Energy Secretary, is a loyalist to fossil fuels given that his home state is filled with the stuff and that most of America’s biggest oil companies are based there. But now it appears that we’ve learned he is not only deeply biased but perhaps delusional too.

At an event sponsored by Axios and NBC News Perry explained that on a recent trip to Africa a girl there told him that electricity was important to her because she wanted to avoid using a lamp that produces noxious fumes to read at night, to study. He then went on in the interview to say:

“electricity also was important from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.”

When I read the word righteousness I immediately think of its use in the context of religion or morality. To hear the United States Energy Secretary, a member of the President’s Cabinet, use it to tout the use of fossil fuels or to seemingly suggest that fossil fuels serve a righteous purpose is alarming. Could he be trying to suggest that God supports the use of fossil fuels? Or that the distribution and use of fossil fuels hold some moral purpose? You can decide for yourself by reading the article that caught my attention here but such a statement is troubling on any level (sickening really) and to read his comments that there is a link, or what he called a ‘positive role’, between fossil fuels and preventing sexual assault, is deeply disturbing. 

REAL NEWS FLASH To Secretary PerryElectricity is generated all over the world by all sorts of power sources other than fossil fuels including clean, sustainable sources such as the sun (solar), water (hydro) and wind.

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I’ve been to Africa but I’ve not yet been to India. Thankfully former late night TV host and comedian David Letterman traveled to India as a Correspondent for the Season Two Premier of National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously entitled ‘A Race Against Time’ where he reported finding children studying at night by noxious kerosene burning lamps. He also reported that some 300 Million people in India (nearly the equivalent of the entire population of the United States) have no electricity of any type and that solar power is being used to provide electricity to change their lives for the better.

If you’ve not seen Years of Living Dangerously, a show that’s been called ‘must watch television’, then click here and start with David’s excellent episode and while you’re at it catch the episode entitled Saving Miami to learn about Miami’s plight.

Reality

I believe that our planet’s climate change crisis is the most significant issue that my generation will ever face. Of that I am certain and while I don’t know Jeff Dorian I sure do agree with what he wrote in a Letter to the Editor in the November 2nd edition of the Miami Herald and want to share it as a dose of reality.

DENYING REALITY

I smoked cigarettes for 30-plus years. I ignored the warnings — liked them too much; kept thinking they wouldn’t affect me. The odds were in my favor. There is no family history of cancer, and my diet and exercise regimes were excellent.

Then came the heart attack.

I quit smoking, but the damage was done: irreversible loss of functioning capacity. If only I’d quit sooner, surely my health would be much better today.

All of us face a similar dilemma today. We must give up fossil fuels. Most Americans don’t think carbon emissions will affect them. The threat seems unsure and far in the future. We enjoy cheap fuel and fast cars too much. We don’t know how to give them up.

The warnings, again from scientists, again are clear and easy to understand. The deniers in Congress are once again denying and supporting business interests over protecting the public interest.

Once again, the damage is irreversible. My heart is not going to get stronger, and the ocean is not going to recede. People are now dying from effects of carbon emissions and associated climate change.

The solution, though not easy, is exquisitely simple: Just Google carbon fee.

– Jeff Dorian, Plantation

The debate on whether man has impacted our climate is long over97% of all scientists agree that that’s exactly what has happened and that carbon in our atmosphere has never been higher and that earth’s temperatures have, in 137 years of recorded data, never been hotter. And if we set politics, and ridiculous statements such as what Secretary Perry said last week aside, even the Trump’s Administration knows the truth and just published it on Friday November 3rd in America’s annual National Climate Assessment.

Hundreds of experts from 13 agencies in our federal government and the academic world researched and wrote the report which was then peer-reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. You can find the report here and once you’ve read it, or read one of the many articles published about it in recent days like this one, we should all ask ourselves whether we, as citizens of this planet, will continue to allow politicians and their puppets to lie to us, to disrespect us, or do we decide to elect leaders who are serious about solving this well documented problem?

IF the Trump Administration’s goal is to truly do what’s righteous for our country’s future then allow me to suggest that the President announce that the United States will quickly become the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels and that America will install solar power any and everywhere in our Country as well as in places such as Africa and, for that matter, India too. Make it our generation’s ‘trip to the moon’ as President Kennedy did in the early 1960’s when he made sending men to explore the moon our national focus. The reality is that such an inspirational initiative would create millions of jobs while changing people’s lives and our environment for the better at the same time.

Now that is a reality that I can support and one that would be truly filled with righteousness.

Hurricanes & Solar Power: Myths Versus Reality

Making landfall as nearly a Category 5 storm, Hurricane Irma devastated much of the Lower Florida Keys including the island (No Name Key) where my family’s home is located. When we returned to our home a few days after the storm had passed, one of our first tasks was to go up on the roof to check the solar panels.  As I reached the top of the ladder I instantly saw that they were undamaged and looked exactly like they had just a few days earlier, before the storm.

But as I stood there on our roof I had a bird’s eye view of the island and could see debris and devastation in every direction as far as I could see.

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To the West, where commercial fishermen keep their lobster and crab boats docked in the water, those gigantic vessels now sat up on land, tossed into the trees by Irma’s storm surge as if they were toys.

To the North and South and, well, in every direction that I looked, there was (and still is) debris from people’s homes and lives.

And yet there in front of me our roof was seemingly untouched and our solar panels glistened as if Irma had never happened.

And when we turned our solar system on after climbing back down off of the roof, guess what? The system worked perfectly and, despite the fact that Hurricane Irma caused nearly seven million people in Florida to lose their power, our home on No Name had her’s. The bright sunlight powered our home and filled our bank of batteries up for use at night and although we were not able to net solar meter by connecting to the power grid because its poles and wires were nearly all broken by Irma, our solar system brought a bit of brightness (and normalcy) to us more than typically would be the case.

As I publicly advocated the solar power mandate that went into effect last month at the City of South Miami (click here to read more about that law), one of the concerns residents and others who spoke out against the idea often expressed was that adding solar panels to one’s roof would either weaken the roof’s ability to withstand a hurricane or that the panels themselves would blow off during a storm. Both assertions are myths and, in fact, the opposite is true.

My experience with Irma shows that a properly installed solar system will not only survive a direct hit from a catastrophic hurricane but actually helps secure the very roof that such panels typically sit upon. As our society continues to discuss how our citizens receive power in the future and how we can transition to sustainable solutions such as rooftop solar, it is my hope that some good lessons can come from Irma and teach everyone that:

A) Solar panels are built to withstand and survive these monster storms, even one as devastating as Irma, they will not blow off your roof, 

B) Properly installed solar panels have the added benefit of helping protect your roof from a hurricane because the hardware used to attach them helps strengthen the roof by securing it to the trusses below,

C) A solar power system in your home can often provide you with power well before your local utility can after a hurricane hits (FP&L provided our Miami home with power 11 days after Irma and Keys Energy returned power to No Name 14 days later – a remarkable accomplishment Keys Energy should be commended for given the devastation in that region).

So the next time someone tells you that solar panels can’t survive a hurricane’s winds or that having them on your roof makes the roof more vulnerable, please tell them about my home on No Name Key and let them know that those are myths. The reality is, thankfully, that solar panels are built and installed to keep working even when the utility grid and local power company can’t.

PS: Speaking of No Name Key, my family was fortunate as compared to others in our area. If you’ve not read my recent comments and blog about my No Name Key neighbor Bob Eaken and how Irma destroyed his long-time home I hope you will read it by visiting here and that you will consider both donating to his rebuilding effort and share his story with your friends. I know he would appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks for your consideration during his time of need.

iPrep Academy Kids ‘Get It’

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Even thought it’s summer, the last month and a half for me and The Sink or Swim Project have been very busy. A blur on most days really with so much to do it reminds me of a song from the play Hamilton, ‘writing like you’re running out of time’. In fact, as I type this blog entry I am sitting in the airport to head back to New York for an incredible project that I will be able to tell you about very soon.

But before I head back to the Big Apple, I just have to share with you one of the very best experiences I had at a school when I was fortunate to speak at iPrep Academy, a magnet school that focuses on teaching in a technology-rich environment., just before the end of the school year.

Based on the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few pictures from my wonderful visit at iPrep:

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As much as I hoped to inspire the iPrep Academy students during my visit, the truth is, as so often happens, these children inspired me.  Their passion and knowledge about climate change and sea level rise, about what is happening here to South Florida and what will happen in their (and my) lifetime was evident in their comments, questions and concerns.

The hope they gave me that day confirms that, together, our generation will solve our climate crisis.

So thank you Ms. Maria Thorne for having me at iPrep Academy and for leading a new generation of environmental stewards into the future to help fight climate change.

And thanks especially to your incredible students for their passion, as well as for giving me great hope that they will work with me to help solve our global climate crisis. As I always like to say, ‘Kids Get It’ and that was the case at iPrep Academy.

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