Photo: Solar Panels at CCBC-Catonsville
*Articles reflect the views of the author and or those quoted and do not necessarily represent the views of CCBC or the CCBC Connection.
History was made this past November 8 when the United States declared Donald J. Trump as the new president-elect. There are many controversial reasons why people decided to vote for him but many supporters see Trump as a man who will give them the jobs they need. This is especially true for those men and women who live in areas of the country that have always relied on coal mines to support themselves.
Every candidate that we’ve seen campaigning wants to provide better opportunities to the unemployed American people but each candidate has different strategies for achieving the demands of citizens. What it all comes down to is whether those creations of jobs are truly sustainable on multiple levels for generations now and in the future.
Our country must move away from the coal mines and move towards a reliable and safe investment in solar energy. This would result in thousands of jobs that would never be lost and a clean environment that we all need if we want to survive in this world.
Earlier this year Trump made his first speech on energy and environmental policies surrounding our current coal, oil and gas production. Ironically this speech took place in North Dakota where thousands of demonstrators have recently been protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline because it’s a major threat to the environment.
“The oil and natural gas industry supports 10 million high paying American jobs and creates another 400,000 new jobs per year” stated Trump. “This exploration will also create a resurgence in American manufacturing.”
Even if someone doesn’t believe that man-made climate change is real it still doesn’t change the fact that the resources we’re using will not last. We will be forced to switch to renewable energy no matter what either side of the issue wants. That means the 400,000 jobs Trump is promising each year will only dwindle at some point and he’s not planning for the success of the country long after he is gone.
On an ecological level the word sustainable means that we are conserving our resources efficiently and not at risk of losing them. Global oil production has already peaked and coal will eventually be dug out of every point in the United States that our country will outsource jobs to find it elsewhere in the world. We will be knee deep in abandoned mines, pollution and people wondering where their job went that they were promised.
Most people don’t realize that climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are natural occurrences. However, these happenings have been detrimentally affected with the rise of the Industrial Revolution which has caused continuous man-made disturbances. According to NASA, at least 97% of climate change scientists agree that global warming is likely due to human activities.
Under Trump’s presidency he plans to repeal the Clean Air Act and throw away any regulations put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency, virtually shutting them out of any major decisions that stand in the way of coal extraction. He also plans to completely halt our country’s funds towards climate change research. Some may say that Trump doesn’t have enough power over these decisions but considering a reality television star is our president then we should expect the impossible.
Coal is a relatively inexpensive resource to generate energy from and the coal miner life is deeply ingrained in American culture. People of rural areas in states such as Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania are often proud of their family's background in the mines because having a job means you’re providing.
Breaking traditions and changing lifestyles is difficult no matter who you are and where you live. Yet, it’s important to make those with coal miner lineage realize we need to change our ways before it’s too late and that they shouldn’t hope for more mines to be opened. Moving from fossil fuels to clean energy can bring about new generations of laborers and engineers that those families can be proud of for a long time to come because they’re going to save our country.
Renewable energy can be obtained from the sun, wind, water and geothermally but using the sun as a source is the most reliable because the sun is always shining in high abundance across the entire globe. As it stands there are solar energy companies that can be found all across the United States. What needs to be done now is investing in more of these facilities in coal country and places where people need employment.
All of the CCBC campuses have been benefiting from solar panel installations that use photovoltaic energy which is how non-battery powered calculators work. This type of solar energy is used on a small-scale basis but concentrated solar power uses mirrors and lenses to supply a great amount of energy. Now imagine an increase of these solar plants across the country that provide people with truly sustainable jobs at almost no risk to our environment.
At the moment solar energy is not the cheapest source of energy but it is an investment we need to make because if we invest now we will save a lot of money and resources later. Higher-ups that make profit at the expense of people’s basic needs and the environment cannot be allowed to continue their practices.
Tom Kimbis, interim president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, works with a number of member companies that want to provide attainable solar energy to the United States. “Our customers have some of the most carefully considered and advanced protections in the country and when they make a well-informed decision to go solar we wind up with happy customers who are producing their own power, saving money and helping to drive the nation toward a clean and affordable energy future,” said Kimbis.
Environmentalists and environmental scientists are often criticized and labeled ‘tree-huggers’ when they raise awareness around the negative effect that human activity has on our ecosystems. The reality is that they know more about what we need than any corporation that demands the depletion of our water sources, deforestation, pollution and cover-ups over toxic chemical spills in the name of a dollar.
We can’t move forward with exhaustible resources that will inevitably disappear and leave us with a world of problems but we can renew our chance for a future if we start making the transition to renewable energy.