A town council in Woodland, North Carolina, recently rejected a proposal for a new solar farm after local residents expressed some serious (or seriously ridiculous) concerns about the project.
Retired science teacher Jane Mann expressed a concern that “photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight, would not happen and would keep the plants from growing,” the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald reported. Mann stated that she had "observed areas near solar panels where the plants are brown and dead because they did not get enough sunlight.”
“She also questioned the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer.”
Another concerned citizen was worried the solar panels would consume all the energy from the sun.
The entire report reads like an article from The Onion, or something you'd see happen at a Pawnee town hall meeting in Parks and Recreation. It's one of those stranger-than-fiction stories, but it highlights a real danger green energy may face.
You can pretty much guarantee that Elon Musk doesn't think solar panels will drain all the sun's energy:
The recent Paris Agreement was a historical moment. It sent a signal to businesses that governments around the world should be making a commitment to green energy. Fossil fuels and coal may be living out their final days in India and China.
However, there are organizations within the United States that will try to hold on to fossil fuels and will do so through any means necessary, including using statements not dissimilar to the ones Mann used to cause enough concern in her town that the council put a moratorium on future solar farms. This was just one woman in a small town; imagine what a “grassroots” organization, like Americans for Prosperity could do.
Grassroots organizations, by definition, are local and homegrown groups meant to raise awareness about an issue. It sounds great — citizens in communities taking up arms about an issue they're passionate about. But there are large corporations and governmental entities out there that have used the name to start fake grassroots efforts for the purpose of influencing public opinion for their own gain. A great example of a successful, fake grassroots effort can be seen in the documentary Hot Coffee.
There are a number of organizations that would like to undermine the Paris Agreement in the United States. On a recent episode of the Americans for Prosperity podcast, Christine Harbin discusses the harmful impact wind energy will have on our environment:
“Wind actually increases carbon emissions at some times, because it has to force other power plants to ramp up and down.”
“They also have a really destructive impact on bird and bat populations — that's something you don't hear the left talk about very often,” she adds.
Scientists would disagree: climate change has killed more birds than wind turbines. It's "a growing solution to some of the more serious threats that birds face, since wind energy emits no greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change," said Terry Root of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Harbin goes on to suggest that “many of these green energy policies end up doing much more harm than good.” I would suggest organizations, like Americans for Prosperity, end up doing much more harm than good, but that's just my opinion.
It took Uruguay 10 years to develop and implement a green energy plan. The country now gets 95 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. How did they achieve it? It started when Uruguay's politicians decided the issue of clean energy was a multipartisan problem that needed to be solved.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Photo Credit: NICOLAS TUCAT / Stringer/ Getty