Solar energy can help us dodge environmental disasters

While we need government to set policy and invest in new solutions, individuals can also make a difference.

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Solar panels near Dearborn Homes Development in Bronzeville community on the near south side of Chicago, that link to an existing microgrid at the Illinois Institute of Technology, October 7, 2019.

Solar panels near Dearborn Homes in Bronzeville on the South Side.

Sun-Times file photo

A Hyde Park neighbor recently added an extension to the back of their house. As I walked by, I noticed the roof had a single pitch, facing south, and wondered: Do they have solar panels? Sure enough, the roof was covered with electricity-producing photovoltaic panels.

My brother in western Australian recently added solar panels to his roof, so now he can run air conditioning “for free” during summer. He told me it is now standard for all new houses built in his city to come with solar panels. All it took was financial incentives offered by the state government.

Solar electricity is one of many ways in which we can dodge the slow-moving disaster we are locking in by our continued release of carbon into the atmosphere. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned us that temperatures are likely to shoot past a key danger point if we don’t peak emissions before 2025 and reduce them by 43% by 2030. To keep the planet livable for our grandchildren, we need to speed up the transition by a factor of three.

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Chicago recently mandated divesting from fossil fuels. At the state level, the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act quadruples the amount of solar and wind power in Illinois over the next decade. It expands the “Solar For All” program from $10 million to $50 million per year to ensure the benefits of solar energy reach low-income communities, and it commits up to $80 million per year to support transportation electrification, with a goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road in Illinois by 2030.

While we need government to set policy and invest in new solutions, individuals can also make a difference. Take a train or ride a bike through a neighborhood you have never visited instead of flying to another state or country. Turn on a fan instead of an air conditioner. Eat more plant protein to replace meat. Reduce your hot showers by a minute. Buy an electric stove or electric car.

Ask your children what climate action you or your family can take. They probably know and care because it’s their future our present actions are determining.

Don Wedd, Hyde Park

Russia’s disregard for human life

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claims that footage of bodies in Bucha was “staged.” Pictures and videos show the total destruction of apartment buildings and homes. That cannot be staged.

Civilian families were living in those structures, and Russia destroyed them. Russia started the war with no regard for human life. Vladimir Putin and his soldiers are simply murderers.

Edwina Jackson, Longwood Manor

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