Every day is Earth Day. — RS
Earth Day (held annually on April 22) needs to be understood in the context of global warming and the imperative task for mankind to convert to solar power for its energy needs. This is no longer a pipe dream to be discussed theoretically, then dismissed into the future. Solar conversion goes to the heart of the issue of the continued existence of human civilization.
Current global greenhouse gas emissions can not continue unabated without catastrophic consequences for everyone & everything on this planet. Earth has a fever and it is getting worse, daily. The graph below shows Earth’s atmospheric CO2 levels for the last 650,000 years, and how far it is above its historic levels. Lowering those levels back to historical norms will be a huge scientific & technological challenge that will test mankind’s ability to innovate & problem-solve. Before that can happen, further emissions must cease, which at this point is more of a political problem than a technical one.
The answer for human society is solar power, which is the only option that is truly clean and infinitely renewable.
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics, or indirectly using concentrated solar power. Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity and solar architecture.
As integrated circuitry improves, and battery storage of solar power becomes more efficient; and more than enough electricity can be generated & stored for virtually any use. The total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules per year. This is more solar energy in one hour than the world uses in one year. If humanity could capture one tenth of one percent of the solar energy striking the earth, it would have access to six times as much energy as humans consume in all forms today, with neither greenhouse gas emissions nor nuclear waste.
Fossil fuel and biomass only add to global warming; while nuclear, geothermal, hydroelectric, and even wind power are far too destructive while degrading the environment. Needless to say, nuclear power’s potential for catastrophe to human populations is all-too-obvious to anyone who studies history & thinks rationally.
Conversion to solar power can only be accomplished through revolutionary means. The world’s most powerful corporations control the global energy market, and will not voluntarily give up this all-important lever of power. Everyone in the industrialized world depends of electricity and automobile transportation. Solar power is a revolutionary equalizer for the working people of the world, freeing them from their dependence on the energy cartels, while abating global warming.
The endless succession of imperialist wars being fought for control of oil & gas reserves in central Asia & beyond will only end with mankind’s conversion to solar power. Today, oil is the world’s most important commodity, so whomever controls it rules the globe. Solar power threatens that balance, and that is why its technology has been resisted, marginalized, discredited, and kept expensive as ruling class policy for decades.
When people can generate their own power using a solar panel, they free themselves from unregulated utility monopolies. When people can drive solar powered cars, using photovoltaic technology, they free themselves from Exxon/Mobil, Chevron & Texaco. These corporations do not tolerate such threats to their bottom line (and ultimately their existence), without fierce resistance. For them, the future of civilization and our planet are secondary concerns, compared to their short-term fiscal profits.
Complete conversion to solar power will ultimately be the task of working people everywhere who demand a better life for themselves, their children, and everything that exists on this planet. It happens when people everywhere regain their will to fight a powerful enemy as if all their lives depend on it, which it does. It is a revolutionary task that ends with socialism, and it is the true spirit and meaning of Earth Day.