Summer 2022 has been a scorcher.
We now know without a shred of doubt, thanks to diligent research projects and large-scale investment by both the private and public sectors into tackling the issue, that human activity is driving these concerning temperature rises.
We also know that solar power is an indispensable – and, arguably, the most important – piece of the puzzle to avert the most severe and possibly existential threats posed by unchecked climate change.
Record heat in the summer of ’22
Worldwide, from China to Texas to Great Britain, unprecedentedly hot temperatures in the past few months have smashed records and wreaked untold havoc on the environment and human health:
“In Southern England, railway tracks bent from the heat. In China, the roof tiles on a museum melted. In Texas, heat and a dry spell have caused nearly 200 water main breaks over the past month.”
Australia recorded its highest temperature in modern history on the continent while Delhi, India likewise exceeded its hottest day in history in May.
This summer’s heatwaves don’t just endanger human and animal lives and wreck the ecosystems that we depend on for survival – although they certainly do that too. They also cost money:
“Extended bouts of great heat can result in more hospital visits, a sharp loss of productivity in construction and agriculture, reduced agricultural yields, and even direct damage to infrastructure. Excess mortality has an economic cost too.”
So here we have a trifecta of negative outcomes to climate change that cry out for a remedy: endangered human health, environmental destruction, and a damaged economy.
The question is: what’s driving the crisis and what can we do to stop it?
The advancing science behind ‘climate change attribution’
It’s one thing to note that the Earth is getting warmer with each passing year – but it’s another to determine what exactly is driving these temperature increases.
Climate change skeptics (who are often funded by fossil fuel interests) concede that the Earth’s climate is getting hotter, but they dispute whether those changes are caused by human activity – i.e., whether climate change is “man-made.”
That’s where the science of “climate change attribution” comes in, a term which refers to th practice of using empirical data to determine the root causes of climate change.
The science of climate change attribution has come a long way. A team of German, British, and American researchers recently published a peer-reviewed study in Advances in Statistical Climatology, Meteorology and Oceanography, for instance, that devised a method to assess how human activity drives climate change in real-time
“The framework’s multi-method approach implements one model-based and two observation-based methods to provide ensemble attribution estimates with accompanying confidence levels. The framework is designed to be computationally lightweight to allow attributable probability changes to be rapidly calculated using forecasts or the latest observations… Global analyses show that the framework is capable of producing worldwide complementary observational- and model-based assessments of how human-caused climate change changes the likelihood of daily maximum temperatures.”
For more information about climate change attribution and free access to a treasure trove of related resources, visit climateattribution.org.
There are many ways in which human activity induces climate change – like commercial agriculture and the logging industry that cause deforestation. They all require attention from public policymakers. But no industry is more responsible for climate change than the fossil fuel sector.
Burning coal and oil releases excessive, unnatural amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a byproduct of combustion, which disrupts the natural carbon cycle and traps unhealthy concentrations in the atmosphere, which drives higher temperatures worldwide via the greenhouse effect.
Fossil fuel-induced climate change is now well-documented and no serious science disputes the facts described above.
Image source: US Energy Information Administration
The search for viable fossil fuel alternatives
Given the abundance of research that indicates an increasingly desperate need to change course and reverse our global dependency on fossil fuels, we need a solution to the climate change crisis more with each passing day.
While there are other natural energy sources like wind power and hydropower, the reality is that solar power is the Earth’s only renewable energy source.
Granted, wind and hydropower don’t emit carbon dioxide, and therefore don’t contribute to the CO2-induced climate change we documented earlier. That’s a good thing, but it’s only part of the sustainable energy picture.
Wind power and hydropower might seem limitless, but, in fact, the amount of power they might provide is restricted by the laws of thermodynamics and the principle of “free energy” – that is, the maximum amount of energy that can be wrangled within the Earth’s system and repurposed for human use.
Energy demand increases each year along with technological innovation The bottom line is that, per the growing consensus of scientists who study alternative energy, safely harnessing all the power that we need from water or wind without disrupting environmental equilibrium is not feasible in the long-term.
Capturing radiation from the sun and rendering it into usable electricity via photovoltaic (PV) technology, on the other hand – much like a plant turns sunlight into chemical energy via photosynthesis – can actually increase the amount of free energy available without contributing to climate destabilization.
More work is needed to make solar power viable at larger scales – including, most importantly, sourcing and incorporating alternative elements into solar panel design that are more widely available than the current indium and tellurium.
Nonetheless, the growing consensus is that solar power is the definitive way of the future due to the free energy issue, not wind and hydropower — however superior they are to fossil fuels.
The future of solar power is looking bright
The solar panel industry has boomed in the last decade, and Compass Solar has been at the forefront of the sustainable energy movement.
According to the US Department of Energy, “renewable technologies accounted for 64% of all new electricity generating capacity constructed in the U.S. in 2015.”
Image source: US Department of Energy
One exciting recent development pertaining to developing solar infrastructure is the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which calls for a $300 billion investment in renewable energy, including solar power. The legislation, among other benefits, extends the investment tax credit (ITC) that gives homeowners and business owners a substantial tax break for installing solar panels on their properties.
Learn more about the financial and environmental benefits of solar power
For authoritative information regarding how solar power can benefit your wallet and protect the delicate environment that we all rely on simultaneously, contact us
Also, for more incentives to consider installing solar panels in your home or business, check out our top reasons to go solar.