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By Joanna Clark

In October 2018, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report 1.5°C and the U.S. 4th National Climate Assessment gave us 12 years to limit devastating global warming.  It is now October 2020, which leaves us 10 years to save our home planet from severe changes.

The sad thing is that we have known how greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) affect the environment and climate since the late 1800s. Furthermore, we have recorded the rise of atmospheric CO2 from its pre-Industrial 1760 C.E. level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to its present-day level of 417 ppm.

With only 10 years to take action, we must pull out all the stops to fast-track clean, renewable energy, especially solar and battery storage, in light of the rolling blackouts we’ve experienced in response to the recent record-breaking heat waves.

The state law mandating solar on all new construction that went into effect on January 1, 2020, is a start, but think what we could do if we installed solar in every new-car sales lot and parking lot with more than 10 spaces.

Parking lot pavement absorbs and retains heat from the sun, lots of it, creating “urban heat islands.” The result is our cities are hotter than the surrounding areas.

A solar canopy over new-car sales lots and larger customer parking lots will not only provide vast amounts of protective shade, but they will also generate vast amounts of electrical energy.

Consider the advantages of parking your car in a shaded area while you shop; your vehicle is cooler when you return. Its fuel efficiency will increase, because you won’t have to crank up its air conditioner as high when you return from your shopping spree. Simultaneously, the energy generated could help keep up with our increased energy demand during heat waves, while powering the car dealerships and shops in the mall.

Lancaster is well on its way to producing more electricity from solar energy than they consume daily.  Why are we not following their lead?

Joanna Clark served as a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, training aircrews on the Lockheed P3 0rion patrol aircraft. After leaving the Navy, she spent 22 years involved in global AIDS education. In 2015, she became involved in climate change.  She is a member of the South Orange County chapter of Citizens Climate Education.

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