A Message From The President

I revisited an autographed copy of Climate Wars from the top shelf of "influential books" in my office. The author is Dr. Gwynne Dyer, retired Admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy. In the book, he reviewed predictions from North American military planners. Potential scenarios included:

  • Mass migration of climate refugees

  • Wildfires ravaging the Western USA

  • Hurricanes devastating the Atlantic Coast

  • A massive border wall and security apparatus at the southern border

  • Hyper-nationalism rising in response to dwindling resources and rising temperatures

Here’s the thing: 

  • I purchased the book in 2008. 

  • The supporting forecasting and planning exercises stretched more than a decade before that.

  • Many of the events that Dr. Dyer projected for the late 2020's, are happening right now.

Preparing for the Consequences of Climate Change

In his book, Dr. Dyer decided to look past the causes and politics of climate change.  Instead, he focused on the ways we might react to the consequences of climate change, if we are unable to mitigate and properly prepare for them.  The scenarios are most disturbing.

Dr. Dyer is a trained military man. To him, these “wars” constitute a failure of our generation to address what we have seen coming for some time.  The book asks whether society-at-large can heed the warnings and avoid such outcomes.  Can we develop effective preventative and preparatory measures?  Will we, as a civilization, be able to embrace these measures and put them in place? 

There are grand schemes to address and even reverse Climate Change. There's even an idea to blast an earth-sized cloud of particles into the upper atmosphere. They all come at great risk. As time passes with little or no action, these high-risk measures become more palatable, even necessary.  We are now at a stage where governments must consider them. Scientists should be exploring risk mitigation in laboratory and other controlled settings. 

In the meantime, there are many small, low-risk incremental steps that we should be taking as a society. Widespread adoption of such steps will help stem the tide.  We will also enhance our ability to ride through and recover from climate change related events and disasters.

Solar street lighting is one of these incremental steps. Lighting represents about 20% of the globe’s electrical load. Outdoor lighting makes up 10% of that. That load translates to over 70 TW-hrs of electricity. Its impact is equal to fifteen major power plants producing an average 5 billion kg. (5.6 million tons) of CO  per year.

Consider this. Solar Street Lights operate with a “zero carbon foot-print." They don’t need a grid-connection or the associated costs of trenching, transmission lines, or transformers. With proper design, sizing and maintenance, solar lights perform 365 nights per year. They are not subject to the vulnerabilities of the electrical grid. Many solar lighting configurations endure major floods and hurricane winds. You can deploy or move solar lighting in a fraction of the time needed to install conventional grid-tied lighting. In short, solar lighting systems are exemplary of “Resilient Infrastructure Systems”. They upgrade infrastructure and reduce environmental impact. At the same time, they help absorb, respond to and recover from disasters or attacks.

The Role of Smart-City Programs

Outdoor light poles and street furniture are ubiquitous across urban and suburban streetscapes.  Because of this, they are now taking on the role of housing "smart city" infrastructure. “Smart city” programs will soon play a dual role in the community.  They give us deeper inter-connectivity and convenience in the new world of IoT. And they will be a critical part of public-safety, emergency and recovery services. Solar light poles will collect and store energy, provide cloud services and provide emergency services. They will become vital in the face of increasing Climate Change driven events and Grid failures.

Last month, the US Government issued the 4th National Climate Assessment Report. In many ways, this work affirms Dr Dyer’s worst fears from a decade ago.  The report cites a significant, prolonged threat to our economy if we fail to act. Climate-change related disasters cost money and undermine opportunity. Consequences include dramatic increases in emergency budgets, overburdened municipal services, and diminished productivity. It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to realize that these costs are quickly adding up across the United States. 

Resilience in Urban Planning Infrastructure

The practice of “Resilience in Urban Planning and Infrastructure” is a growing movement. It takes economic costs of emergencies into account and employs solutions that speed response and recovery. There's evidence that such measures can save billions, if not trillions in economic costs that weren't recognized in the past. 

Add to this, the monumental economic cost of failing to compete with other countries that recognize the threats & opportunities of this situation. We will need new technology, products and services to adapt. Many countries are creating the environment and making the necessary investments to deliver them. The US stands to lose a great deal of unharnessed economic potential by sitting on the sideline. There are important examples of such missteps from our not-too-distant past.  One example is the photo-voltaic industry.  The US was once the dominant player and ceded the now $65B USD industry to China. We should not have to re-learn such lessons.

Though SolarOne Solutions got started well before Dr. Dyer published his book, our mission has been very much aligned with his call to action.

 

For solar street lighting, the time for action is now. Reputable manufacturers have addressed both cost and performance objections. And the importance of solar lighting's low-impact and resiliency will compound as we realize that the effects of Climate Change are upon us. 

SolarOne has installed over 11,000 municipal, commercial and industrial systems across the globe. We have prepared to deliver on our mission with a deep bench of experience, expert stakeholders and comprehensive product offerings. In short, SolarOne stands ready and committed with its solutions and know-how to help societies heed Dr. Dyer’s dire warnings.

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Moneer Azzam

President/CEO, SolarOne Solutions Inc.