When you think of the word sun what vision comes to your mind?
- a day on the beach flat on your back with a sun scoop?
- surfing in the waves to the Beach Boys?
- sitting on a patio with an iced tea or Sangria?
- hanging out in the park with your dog on a cool fall day?
- your neighbour sitting on the porch in his BVDs with a beer? (that could either be pleasant or disturbing…shudder)
- reaching for your SPF 2000 sunblock?
Back in the days where powder white skin was the sign of affluence, women would avoid the sun like…well…like the plague. They would also avoid all the health benefits that direct sunlight offers. These days, women and men alike seek artificial sun from tanning salons or even those instant tan creams that make them look like carrots.
The truth is we have a love/hate relationship with the sun. We love it in the cold winter months as we sip a hot cocoa après-ski but we hate it when we get into the car in our short-shorts and toast our toosh on the hot leather seats because the tree moved.
Some of us are even afraid of the sun. The chemical sunscreen industry has done a good job of that by playing on our fears of contracting skin cancer. Gaea forbid you should venture outside with your children without assaulting them with SPF goop, trading one cancer for another.
Add to that the UV index becoming a mainstay in the daily weather report and we are conditioned to think of sunscreen as an insurance blanket against the sun. It’s perfectly safe they say…Everything in moderation of course. SPF 10 gives you 10 minutes before bacon skin, SPF 20 gives you 20 and so on.
When it comes to fossil fuels however, it seems that moderation does not apply. We just can’t get enough even though we have more than enough oil to last us through the transition to clean energy. So what’s our excuse? We know how to do it so why aren’t we?
Here is a great article by Duncan Clark on Why We Can’t Quit Fossil Fuels. It takes the veil off the illusion that reductions and increased fuel efficiency is helping at all. Those are not the kinds of small steps that lie on the polka-dot path to sustainability.
Fossil fuel simply must stay in the ground.
What small step then can we take? Change our mindset.
In keeping with this week’s theme, our glorious sun, the answer is staring us right in the face. We just need to look up and realize that the future is so bright…we have to wear shades…on our windows…on our rooftops…in our deserts…on the hoods of our cars…on the wings of our airplanes…that soak up the sun and create all the energy we desire.
If we can figure out how to exponentially increase the speed and memory capacity of computers (30 years ago I wrote a program that blew out the memory of a Commodore PET computer…a whopping 64K!), then we can certainly focus our inspired minds on making solar cells and batteries exponentially more effective.
How would you like to charge your smartphone-sized household power generator as you walk your dog in your uber-fashionable Neo-style coat?
Let your imagination soar. How else do you see us ubiquitously harnessing the sun? It can be done.