Surviving sustainably depends on solar

Surviving sustainably depends on solar

The Green New Deal, thanks to climate change, is one of the hottest (no pun intended) topics in legislation today. Even though it’s still just a kernel of an idea at this point, a great many political leaders both young and old have managed to steer the conversation about climate change towards a real, practical set of solutions. This plan would mandate major shifts in how energy is generated in this country, as well as incentivize such changes with job guarantees.

One thing you’ll notice when taking a closer look at the GND and other plans for a more sustainable future is a bold acknowledgment of a truth that’s evaded too many people: solar energy is the future of electricity. For simplicity of installation and maintenance, and the lack of environmental disruption (no dams, turbines, derricks or wells needed here), solar power represents our best shot at replacing the energy that damages the atmosphere with energy that’s drawn safely from above. The sun never goes out, and as long as solar panels can be built we have space for them--on our homes, in open fields, or the tops of skyscrapers.

That’s why the Green New Deal and similar projects hold so much promise. We’re at a unique point in history, where we stand ready to fight the good fight to ensure our planet’s survival. The latest report from the UN’s panel on climate change makes it clear: there is no precedent for this moment in human history, and if there’s no action to change our circumstances, we’re all doomed. End of story.

As it stands now, the Green New Deal is only a sketch for a future plan to conquer climate change and ensure the planet’s survival. But no plan, whether conjecture or concrete, that doesn’t include solar power can be taken seriously at this point. From charging personal devices to flying us around the world, solar panels are the flag of our clean, renewable energy-based future, and they generate more than just clean power.

One major component of the Green New Deal, one that also can’t be ignored, is the promise of meaningful employment as part of our shift to sustainability. To build out all our new sources of energy whether solar, wind, hydroelectric or any other, hard-working Americans will be called upon to contribute their strength.

Pundits and experts all seem to agree that solar installation is a major growth industry that’ll put thousands of Americans to work, eventually benefiting millions. As it stands now, solar jobs have grown 168 percent since 2010, and a thoughtful plan that recognizes the globe-saving potential of such workers will send that number ever skyward. Any plan that doesn’t incorporate great jobs is one that can be safely ignored.

For New Yorkers like myself, our coastal location puts us at the forefront of this fight. I’m a real estate entrepreneur and not a scientist, but I’ve been proudly banging the drum for solar energy for several years now. It’s been a bit confounding that more high-rise owners and building managers haven’t bought in: the opportunity to combine both economic and social benefits is one that doesn’t come by every day. If anything’s changed since I first installed solar panels on one of my tall buildings, it’s that the need for more of my peers to join me has grown exponentially.

Hurricane Sandy’s effects were tragic enough for our city, with lives shattered and millions left looking for answers. As it stands, the potential results of climate change might make that look like just a small preview of what’s to come. We owe it to ourselves, to our children, and subsequent generations down the line to get on board with clean energy and our solar-based future.

FDR’s New Deal was probably the most ambitious initiative in our nation’s history, aimed at saving everyday people from financial ruin. The Great Depression was no minor threat, but it almost seems so when compared to the circumstances we find ourselves in today. For that reason, the Green New Deal is appropriately named: it’s quite similar in that it’s going to take a major shift in attitudes and habits, as well as providing work for those in need, to keep us all safe from the encroaching storm.

It’s no time for equivocation and uncertainty: if we don’t act soon, all we have as a people stands to slip from our grasp. I’m glad there are ambitious plans out there, and even more satisfied to see that solar power is a rightfully major aspect of proposals to make the world a better place. An array of panels on the roof of every building is a start; for real change in keeping hard-working Americans employed while ensuring a clean future for the next generation, solar power is the foundation upon we can build a better world. Before it’s too late.

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