Helping the planet with solar energy

We the people can do a lot of good for our earth if we support, develop and use solar energy in the right places.

Where and how we implement solar makes the difference between reaping the most benefits for the planet rather than simply swapping one good for another that results in zero net benefits or even deficits.

Maximum benefits comes from putting solar on rooftops, over parking lots, at residential backyards, on spoiled land known as brownfields, on old landfills and superfund sites, that is, on already-developed places where there is little of nature to lose.

In contrast, minimum benefits and even deficits occur when solar consumes rich agricultural land or large expanses of forests, impacts our wetlands and affects groundwater.

It makes no sense for our planet to substitute solar for the habitat of wildlife species that are already endangered, because it results in the loss and fragmentation of habitat that is hard and costly to replace.

So when you are considering solar energy to help your energy costs, or to help the planet and our local environment, you would be wise to choose the already-developed places listed earlier, instead of greenfields and forests that provide many benefits to the planet including curbing climate change.

Numerous southern New Hampshire towns smartly oppose the natural gas pipeline because it would destroy valuable natural resources, not because people oppose natural gas that is cleaner than oil.

Similarly, people who care about the planet need to oppose solar projects where the net environmental benefit would be zero or worse.

Unfortunately, such a net-zero solar site in Milford at the Brox town land was approved by some voters. Its forested wetland complex that functions as a refuge for endangered turtles and snakes and many rare bird species would be greatly diminished. Replacing such a highly-rated wildlife refuge with a solar farm would have a zero net effect or deficit effect on NH rare wildlife and the planet – all for a fistful of dollars for each Milford tax payer.

As we celebrate earth on this Earth Day and plan for a better future, we must be smart about where to locate solar energy in order to reap maximum benefits.

Have a great Earth Day 2019!