If you are looking at solar, you are either motivated by a desire to save money or a desire to save the planet. While some people may be motivated by both, those are the two reasons that people really look into solar power for their homes or commercial buildings. However, there is a ton of misinformation about solar panels and how “green” they truly are. Some people would have you believe that the process to create an electric panel consumes so much electricity, water, or natural resources that you lose all of the environmental benefits of generating your own electricity from a renewable energy source.
The reality is that solar is a great strategy for improving environmental sustainability. While it does consume water, electricity, and natural resources to create solar panels, the use of those resources is offset by the energy saved by using solar energy.
To understand this, it is important to look at what we mean when we say environmentally sustainable. Some people think we mean that the Earth will continue. That is not what we mean. Unless it is somehow physically shattered into trillions of pieces, the Earth is going to outlive, not just us as individuals, but humankind. Instead, environmental sustainability refers to creating conditions that will allow humans and nature to coexist together for future generations. It is less about whether we are going to kill the Earth than it is about whether we are going to create an Earth that is increasingly inhospitable to humans.
Right now, one of the ways that we are making Earth less hospitable to humans is through global climate change. Rising sea levels, increasing superstorms, and changing climate conditions are already beginning to impact the harmony between humans and nature. Whether it is coastal lands that are no longer habitable because of rising sea levels, wildfires raging because of climate change, or superstorms devastating human development, we are getting a peak at what the world will become if we do not make a change.
While your individual choice to go solar is not going to solve the climate problem, the reality is that we all need to start making better choices for the Earth. Recycling, reducing consumption, changing deforestation practices, being mindful about the food we consume, and using fresh water responsibly are all things we need to do to lessen our environmental footprint. Solar is another tool you can use to help lessen the collective impact of humans on the Earth and help keep Earth habitable for future generations.