On April 22nd, this year’s Earth Day theme is “Restore our Earth.” This sentiment of hope and renewal rings especially true now that after more than a year of battling a global pandemic, our lives are returning to some semblance of “normalcy.” Virus cases are slowly decreasing, friends and family members are being vaccinated, and businesses are reopening. Spring is truly in the air.
On this Earth Day, let’s take this opportunity to thoughtfully consider ways that we can reduce our own carbon footprints and do our parts to restore our earth’s delicate ecosystems. There are many ways to take action. One essential step is to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels, which emit polluting greenhouse gases (GHGs) that accelerate climate change and further damage the environment.
Go solar to reduce your carbon footprint
Did you know that there are almost 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy capacity installed in the U.S.? That’s enough to power about 18 million homes! About one-third of all GHG emissions in the U.S. come from the electric power sector, mostly from coal and natural gas plants. Solar systems, on the other hand, do not release GHG emissions when producing solar energy.
This means that if you install solar on your rooftop, you significantly reduce your carbon footprint by producing and consuming your own non-polluting renewable energy. You can even charge your electric car from your solar panels, instead of drawing electricity from the grid. Going solar can also be great for your wallet: because you consume much less grid power with rooftop solar, you can save money on your monthly utility bill. In some areas, your local utility will even pay you to export your extra solar power to the grid for others to use.
Increase energy security with energy storage
As we experience more extreme temperatures due to climate change, natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires will unfortunately become more and more frequent. Over the past ten years, these events have already increased at an alarming rate. In 2020 alone, more than 9,900 fires burned 4.2 million acres of land in California, damaging communities and destroying delicate natural habitats. In order to protect power infrastructure and prevent electrical fires, utilities have been forced to temporarily turn off regional grid power. Texas similarly suffered from uncharacteristic sub-freezing temperatures this past winter, triggering an energy supply shortage that left millions without heat.
While we work to restore our Earth, we must also mitigate the effects of climate change in our communities. Technologies like battery energy storage have been developed to provide vital backup power when the power goes out. Energy storage systems work just like your phone battery; they can store power when it’s available, then dispatch the power when it’s needed. If you have rooftop solar, energy storage can also store your system’s produced power when the sun is shining to use in the evening or when the grid goes down.
Volunteer in your community
It is vital that as we take actions to Restore our Earth, we do so in ways that support the safety and wellbeing of humans as well. Low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. Not only are people in these communities more exposed to health risks and hazards associated with climate change, but they also often have fewer resources that can help them cope with and recover from the damage.
You can make a difference this year on Earth Day by volunteering in your community at litter cleanups, hiking trail maintenance events, and more. You can learn more about how to get involved at earthday.org.
Join us in celebrating Earth Day
With more than 1 billion people who celebrate annually, Earth Day is the largest civic observance in the world. Join us in doing your part to combat climate change by taking action to Restore Our Earth and make tomorrow better for everyone.
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