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There Has Never Been a Better Time to Stop Using Non-Renewables, Ever

This is going to seem like a ramble, and I’m okay with that, but I think that something needs to be said. It’s time that we stop depending on the Middle East and despotic regimes like Libya for the oil we use to light our world. While we’re at it, we should also convert from using coal and natural gas to forms of energy that we’re not going to run out of to forms of energy that are essentially good forever. I mean, really – when solar power runs out, we’ve bigger problems to worry about then, don’t we.

Doesn’t this seem like such a no-brainer? Switching from a fuel that is going to run out to a fuel that will never run out?

In my perfect Utopian world that obviously only exists in my head, we harness solar fully in just three states, wind in just two states, tidal and wave on the coasts, and provide the necessary gear for people to very easily use solar and wind at home. I’m a lighting designer, and I imagine a world where every touring production travels with a truck that has a solar and battery setup to self-sustain the show’s power needs. Wouldn’t that be just awesome and amazing?

Those kind of systems exist now. Yep, that’s no bull.

You know what the really sick and creepy thing about all of this energy generation business is? We actually CAN do exactly what exists in my head. We have the technology, desire, and ability to turn our power from coal and oil to wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal, among other forms. But, as we live in a country (and on a planet) that is so addicted to non-renewables like oil and coal, a change like this can only come if we demand it. All of us. Together.

When a place like Libya undergoes a revolt like is experiencing now, everything goes to sh*t around the world. Gas prices skyrocket. Everything costs more because the price of oil goes nuts. I just heard on NPR a few days that a barrel of oil just hit $100 bucks on the market. It’s not expected to get much cheaper any time soon, either. How can we continue to keep doing this, folks? It’s not just our gas that’s going to continue to climb honed and higher, it’s going to be everything in our lives – electricity bills, heating and cooling costs, light and lighting, food, clothing, all of it.

Something that we cannot overlook now is the danger of nuclear power.  Our brothers and sisters in Japan are experiencing the repercussions of the dangers of nuclear power for light after this last unprecedented earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  Have you been watching the news about the fires happening at the Fukushima Daiishi and Daini plants outside Tokyo right now?  Wider protection zones are being requested and considered by high ranking officials around the nuclear power plants in Tokyo, we’re haring news about meltdowns, radioactive fallout, and radiation sickness dangers.  It’s not a secret that nuclear power plants are powerful – but if you compare the bi-products and danger considerations versus those for renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and wave, is the danger really that worth it?

When the earthquake and tsunami first hit, the stock market was all a buzz about how solar stocks would triumph in this moment of our time.  Now the same people are saying that oil, coal, and gas are making big leaps and bounds because of the earthquake.  How screwed up is it that people spend more time trying to profit from a disaster like the one that just happened and is growing ever stronger and worse, day by day?  Why aren’t we trying to get solar and wind power in there now to help people out?

Think of the amount of energy needed to harvest pretty much every single non-renewable – oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear fuel – each of these methods requires several multiples of the energy actually gained just to make it in the first place.  Renewable energy sources require nearly no extra energy (or carbon footprint).  Why is this so hard for everyone to understand?

We cannot afford to rely on these non-renewables for our light any longer. We just cannot afford to be petroleum slaves anymore.  Our technological development in light is moving in the wrong direction when we base it on what coal, oil, and nuclear power are dictating.

There are so many advancements in solar technology happening right now, as well as with wind, geothermal, tidal, and wave power generation that it is staggering to think we’re not completely utilizing these sustainable sources of power. We are destroying our home with the mining of oil, coal, and natural gas.  Fracking, for example (fracture drilling for you Battlestar Galactica fans), has been proven to cause earthquakes.  Spent nuclear fuel (and live nuclear fuel for that matter) is so dangerous to humans that it must be buried deep underground to keep it away from us.  We have got to knock this stuff off and get involved in having a home that will be around for a long time. At our current rate, we are absolutely screwed.

Over the last few years as politicians have been lobbied by the CFL and LED manufacturers, we as lighting designers have all gotten our underwear in a bunch over being told we can’t use incandescents.  What sucks about that is that yes, it would be awesome to have a replacement for incandescent sources so that our light sources don’t draw a lot of power.  Well, my frank opinion is that if we were able to generate new electricity nearly free of cost, who cares what light sources we use?  Should we keep developing?  Of course.  Should we keep looking for an incandescent replacement?  Of course we should.  We should also work on improving our current power grid so that we have better distribution of power – it would stun your mind how many places across the country (and world for that matter) are operating on an industry-birth set of infrastructure that is as old as the industry is itself.  How much sense does that make?

Of course, what do I know – I only spend 8-12 hours a day looking at the advancement of light in our society.  I know we can do better, we just have to do it.  I want the best for us!  Most of all, I want us to start thinking sustainably – we’re not gonna make it if we don’t.  That is, of course, just my educated opinion.  But again, what do I know?

Sol, Inc is Donating Solar Lighting to Haiti

tropical-solar-light

This is pretty cool – Sol, Inc, a solar light fixture manufacturer in Florida, is sending a whole bunch of their solar lighting to Haiti to assist in the humanitarian effort.  Sol helped out with their lighting products in the Hurricane Katrina and Rita efforts too, so they’re no strangers to this kind of work.  Check out the press release below – I want to get this out to as many people as I can reach.  You can also donate a solar light to Haiti, and Sol’s sending down some people to install them:

PALM CITY, Fla., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Millions of dollars of relief may never reach Haitians in time unless roadways, relief camps, hospitals and distribution areas can operate past dark.

Donating $300,000 and organizing relief efforts for Haiti, Sol, Inc. is no stranger to the effect solar lights have on safety and security. With over 40,000 solar lighting systems installed in over 60 countries on six continents, Sol, Inc. CEO Rick Schuett knew that the Sol, Inc. team had the expertise and desire to make a real difference.

“The Board of Directors chaired by Michael Sonnenfeldt, along with Sol, Inc. employees felt compelled to assist the victims of this earthquake,” said Rick Schuett, CEO of Sol, Inc. “We know that once our solar lighting systems are installed, we will effectively double the amount of available relief effort time by allowing aid workers and rescuers to work around the clock when previously operations had to cease at dusk. In addition, our lighting systems will provide safety and security as well as being a hallmark that civility is being restored to the area.”

The total donation is expected to exceed $400,000 with assistance from suppliers, donations and a solar light matching program.

Facilitating the assistance to Haiti is not a small task.

Sol, Inc. is working with Florida Congressman Rooney’s Stuart office, several relief agencies and government agencies to transport the solar lights from Florida and get them installed in Haiti as quickly as possible. Missionary Flights International – http://www.missionaryflights.org – based in Ft. Piece has graciously agreed to fly some of the solar lighting systems as well as Sol, Inc. volunteers. Sol, Inc. is working with other relief organizations such as World Vision – http://www.worldvision.org , Unicef – http://www.unicef.org and Hands On Disaster Response – http://www.hodr.org to coordinate the installation, local logistics and security for the traveling team.

In addition, Sol, Inc. is dispatching a 44′ catamaran donated by local entrepreneur Deane Blazie of Jupiter Island, which is scheduled to leave late Sunday or Monday (depending on weather). The boat will remain in Haiti for the next several weeks providing ground support and logistics.

Several of Sol, Inc.’s suppliers have generously donated time and materials including Alliance Composites Inc., C & L Technologies, Citizen Electronics, Haze Battery U.S.A., Karl Lust and SPOSTO Interactive, allowing Sol, Inc. to increase the number of solar light systems that will be available to the relief efforts.

“Our efforts will continue,” said Schuett. “If you or your organization would like to donate money, medical supplies, water or equipment, please contact us immediately. Sol, Inc. is also actively seeking air and ocean transportation avenues for forthcoming donations.”

Victor Sotolongo is coordinating the Solar Lights Donation logistics for Sol, Inc. Call, text or email him at 772.205-9987 or [email protected] .

Sol will be providing additional lights through a special ongoing Solar Lights for Haiti matching program it has established. For every solar light system purchased, Sol, Inc. will match the donation with a second solar light system. To support the solar lights for Haiti relief effort, visit http://www.solarlighting.com and click “Donate Light to Haiti Earthquake Victims.”

Sol, Inc.’s solar light philanthropy program has assisted victims and volunteers in disaster recovery. Past recipients include: Hurricane Katrina Recovery Lighting (2005), Hurricane Rita Recovery Lighting (2005), Peruvian Earthquake Relief (2007), and Chapman, Kansas Tornado Redevelopment Lighting (2009). For more information about Sol, Inc.’s charitable outreach program visit: http://www.solarlightingusa.com/community-outreach.html

About Sol, Inc. – http://www.solarlighting.com

Sol, Inc. is the world leader in solar LED outdoor lighting solutions with over 40,000 systems installed in more than 60 countries on six continents. Since 1990, Sol has introduced innovative and cost-effective solar lighting systems that provide unsurpassed levels of illumination and reliability. Sol, Inc. develops, manufactures and markets commercial/industrial-grade solar powered and energy efficient lighting systems for a wide range of lighting applications including area and security, street and roadways, sign and billboards and transit and shelter lighting. Sol, Inc. is ISO 9001:2000 certified and committed to superior design, manufacturing, and customer satisfaction.

Help Haiti

My heart goes out to the people in Haiti right now. They are suffering, they have been beaten down, and many tens of thousands have died – estimates range as high as 40,000 to 50,000 dead with 3 million+ being displaced and homeless. I have a horrible cold feeling that those numbers are low, no matter how hard I try to send good vibes to the people of Haiti.

There are things we can do, and right now the best thing we can do is send money to charities that are providing relief and assistance to the Haitian victims. Buit before all that – be really careful though – there are people who think you’re all a bunch of suckers, acting nefarious and profiting on the suffering of millions in Haiti. Unfortunately we have to take care in giving. Give money to charities with a history of helping in Haiti – not companies who just started up and have no idea. Also, give to reputable companies, not orgs trying to profit from others’ misery.

One such group that I would shy away from giving to right now is Wyclef Jean’s YELE Foundation – YELE has been paying Wyclef for a while, and “Internal Revenue Service records show the group has a lackluster history of accounting for its finances, and that the organization has paid the performer and his business partner at least $410,000 for rent, production services, and Jean’s appearance at a benefit concert.” That’s too bad, Wyclef, because whereas I thought “Gone Till November” was an okay song, now I think you’re a criminal scumbag. Everybody, give money to The American Red Cross instead of giving it to YELE, they’re just going to pay Wyclef. For details on this BS, check out The Smoking Gun’s listing of YELE’s tax returns.

So – places that I would feel comfortable sending money to for this cause would be (and each org is linked):

There is also an exhaustive list at Charity Navigator, with ratings and tax info for your own judgement.

Let’s help these people.