Tag Archives: pollution

Solar Cities: A Vision Taking Shape

Solar cities is a term describing carbon neutral or sustainable cities such as Masdar, Abu Dhabi, a city of 7 sq.km. which has been designed to house 50,000 people.

Using the sun’s energy to source power for solar cities is an idea growing in popularity on a daily basis. In order to harness the energy of the sun, photovoltaic (‘PV’) technology is used. There is a plethora of benefits from using PV, starting with costs and finishing with health benefits.

Powering Solar Cities

The main benefits of solar energy are environmental and cost savings. Using rooftop solar pv panels to supply homes, offices, factories and entire regions with power, at a fraction of the cost of fossil-fuel based electricity is the way to produce solar cities. When sufficiently large arrays of solar panels are installed for a city, the demand for grid-based power is vastly reduced or almost eliminated.

At householder levels, solar panels commonly used for a solar water heater have a lifespan of up to 25 years and at a rate of US$4.30 or even less for 1 Watt of output, for a 50 watts panel costs are as low as $220. Of course as technologies improve, prices will reduce rapidly.

Moving Away From Reliance on the Grid

The main source of electricity in the world today is fossil fuel based, which means that countries need to spend a lot of money on buying non-renewable resources. Running huge electric grids and power plants is costly, and these costs are passed on to the consumer.

As solar cities use renewable solar power as their main source of electricity there is no need for huge power plants, no need for fossil fuel and definitely no need for transporting oil, coal and gas. The savings to the consumer and governments can be appropriated for other important projects, such as healthcare, technology and education.

Solar cities are currently in development and when time has shown how effective they are, more nations will be inclined to follow their path.

Third World Benefits

In third world countries many accidents happen due to the spilling of kerosene lamps. Using open fires for cooking also creates serious respiratory and burn problems.

Breathe Easier

Solar cities which rely on solar energy rather than fossil fuels will have cleaner air. Burning fossil fuels produces toxic fumes and allergens which accounts for many people’s respiratory problems.

In comparison to kerosene, which produces fumes equivalent to inhaling the equivalent of 2 packs of cigarettes per day, solar energy has practically zero emissions and it doesn’t also have any impact on the greenhouse effect.

Solar Cities for the Future

Cities in USA and around the world are introducing solar panels to generate energy to their built environment. This has a positive effect on our world by slowing the greenhouse gas effect. Solar cities reduce the pollution created by the use of fossil fuel and they present a cost-effective and health-effective way of providing power to the population. I have previously written on the idea of a solar empire which envisages a growing number of nations creating solar cities.

Guest author: Living Quarters, India


What is Eco-Development?

Garry Baverstock
Co-Founder & Director, solar-e.com
Email: g.baverstock@solar-e.com

World Population

With the world’s population growing currently at around 85 million per year, human habitation is set to double in the first half of the 21st Century. But there are other factors that may step in to curtail this chilling estimate such as:

  • Increased mortality due to disease and starvation.
  • Rising ocean levels and climate change damage
  • Better education of women
  • More focused government policy / aid
  • Economic sustainability
  • Cultural adjustment

By readjusting for these factors, credible predictions place the world’s population likely to peak at approximately 8 billion (current global population is nearly 6 billion). So population increase on planet earth could grow to 12 billion by 2050. As Dr David Suzuki has rightly pointed out many times in his public talks around the world, there are too many people, but more importantly too many consuming people. 20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of the the worlds resources. The majority (80%) have to live on 20% of the worlds resources. Clearly this is unsustainable and unreasonable. In fact it is inhumane when one considers that most people are subsisting day to day. It is destined to worsen before matters improve. Eco-development could be an important part of the eventual solution.

Suzuki’s Warnings

At Winthrop Hall, University of Western Australia, October 30th, 2002, Dr David Suzuki made a number of points which demonstrate that political power brokers are getting it very wrong in relation to a number of key issues:

Conservation of our oceans and marine eco-systems
90% of the world’s fish have disappeared. 80% to 90% of newly born fish are harvested. A natural hunter / gatherer sustainable level would be 5%…

Food production
Land degradation, rising salt and drought due to climate change is making it harder and harder for humans to subsist on natural healthy food…

Genetically modified food
The genetic effects on humans could take generations to detect. We are sailing “blind” when we rely on genetic modification. to provide the increased food production needed. Much more research is required before wholesale adoption is planned. Monitoring of effects over generations will be needed before genetic safety of human life can be guaranteed…

Air pollution
Increased levels is causing enormous increases in asthma and respiratory diseases and has become a significant killer of the young in the badly polluted centers around this world…

Weather catastrophes
The increased levels of drought, flood and cyclones is placing enormous economic burdens on many regions around the planet. If not averted soon, climate change effects will become unmanageable. The cost of insurance, capital replacement will become an enormous burden to all societies…

Ecological footprint
The ratio of land required to provide resources to sustain the consumption level of human beings is known as an “ecological footprint” . This consumption could be due to “need” (for survival) or for “greed” (satisfying ones insatiable desire for material well being or wealth).
If all human beings lived like Australians, Canadians or Americans we would need the equivalent of 6 planets to provide the necessary resources!…

Catastrophe Inevitable?

If population continues to grow and the citizens of the developed world do not re-evaluate our priorities, style of living and value system, it does not take a great deal of intelligence to see that this world is heading for disaster economically, socially and ecologically. Urgent action is needed! This is to avoid damage (already irreparable in many cases) and prevent further damage in the future.

Is catastrophe inevitable? Not in the sense of a sudden single event will it be obvious. The gradual degradation of the quality of life and extent of bio diversity will only be realized by our children, grandchildren and the future generations. The consequences of actions (or lack of action) of people living in the 20th century and the early part of the 21st century will be judged as catastrophic or not by them! There is a huge weight of evidence that environmental damage is immense and escalating at an alarming rate.

The ability to avert calamities of the future is completely in the hands of the decision makers of today.

The Five Elements

All indigenous cultures over millennia of evolution of living in harmony with nature got the necessary insight into balanced living. They saw their lives intertwined with the 5 elements:

EarthAirWaterFireEther (love)

Suzuki’s talks highlight the integral relationship with the elements and by trashing or abusing them we are simply being destructive to ourselves. We are part and parcel with life, with no boundaries of past, present or future. One only has to look at life philosophies and mysticism of the American Indian tribes of America, the Aborigines of Australia, the Vedic culture of Central and Southern Asia, and ancient tribes of Africa to see a common sustainable position with nature.

About 7000 years ago all humans lived in balance with nature as hunter, gatherers, small cultivators and herders. Prior to that time the world population for millennia had peaked at a sustainable level of 5 million. By 2000AD this has grown over 5.5 billion!

Perhaps ecological sustainability is indivisible from our past relationship and balance with nature. By destroying indigenous cultures modern societies stand to risk destroying all the valuable secrets of life and human satisfaction through a healthy relationship with the five elements.

Main Challenges

The future of 8 billion people will need to be addressed as soon as possible during the 21st century and the needs, wants and desires accommodated in the development process while protecting Mother Earth.

  • Review material needs for health and happiness
  • Recreate dreams and aspirations for a “better life”
  • Strengthen Cultural bonds and relationship with the earth
  • Attain a stronger spiritual connection to nature and community
  • Re-think the basis of evaluating economic success
  • Re-direct energy supply towards a “solar economy”
  • Establish new, appropriate Urban living patterns

Levels of Protection

In meeting these challenges we must observe a number of layers of consideration. Here is our suggested checklist;

  • International Principles (U.N. decrees)
  • Pristine Wilderness Areas
  • Nature Areas Under Threat
  • Nature Areas For Rehabilitation
  • Reassess Suburban Development
  • Density City Living
  • Eco-Village Developments
    • Tourist Destinations
      • Inland
      • Coastal
    • Suburban
    • Rural
    • Urban
      • City
      • Country
    • Indigenous Communities
  • Urban Nature Reserves and Parklands

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