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Solar Energy and the Environment

The following is a position paper by Robert Starr that illustrates our environmental challenges and the role of the direct utilization of solar energy in their remediation.

Solar energy in one form or another forms the basis for all that we do. Our wood, coal, gas and oil resources were created using it. A leaf is actually a solar collector; it converts energy from the sun into chemical energy. Energy from the sun in the red and blue spectrums powers the conversion of carbon dioxide and water into hydrocarbons. When we burn these hydrocarbons, we get the energy back again. When we burn our fossil fuels, we are consuming the product of millions of years worth of solar energy savings.

Even hyrdro and wind power are essentially solar energy in a different form. The sun evaporates water from the oceans and raises it aloft. When it falls back as rain, it can power our hydroelectric turbines. Wind is the result of uneven heating of the earth by the sun.

Without the sun, we could not exist at all and the earth would be a dark and lifeless place.

It is really an oxymoron to speak about solar energy and the environment. Energy from the sun, in all of its forms, IS the environment.