Science/Tech

CUSD Solar Panels

Renewable energy sources are one of the great controversies of the 21st Century. Some Californians, as advocates of renewable energy sources, have connected the current drought with global warming. Others have been less concerned with trying to control the forces of nature, and have been more interested in the practicality of renewable energy.

The Ecology Action Team at San Juan Hills High School initiated a project to address all of this, while inspiring change of all shapes and forms throughout the Californian community. They’ve extended their reach to a variety of other high schools and clubs, including Tesoro High School’s Conservationism Club and Ecology Club  to form a coalition of students, parents, teachers, and everyone in between. Their mission: To get solar panels up and running in all CUSD schools by working with nonprofit organizations like KyotoUSA and the school district. Russell Tran, grade 10 and president of San Juan’s Ecology Action Team, summed up his motives for starting the movement best: “There is a rare win-win situation where we can not only help the environment, but also make savings for our schools that are greater than the costs.”
And this coalition of clubs has called you to action. Their petition at cusdsolarpanels.org is made to inspire needed change.

For those who concur with what over ninety percent of scientists already have agreed—that humans are directly causing climate change and are in turn threatened by it — solar panels have been one weapon against the change that faces humanity. In terms of climate change itself, scientists have believed that the climate is going through sudden change not correlated with human-induced carbon in the atmosphere. Humans have significantly increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air from industrialization, which in turn has been the main gas to trap heat from the Sun and prevent it from bouncing back to space. One purpose for renewable energy sources like solar panels, then, has been to reduce the amount of carbon-burning fuel sources and increase energy sources that are friendly to the planet. As stated by the Tesoro Conservationism Club member Andrew Suda, grade 12, “Reducing our district’s carbon footprint will encourage other schools to institute more ‘green’ policies.” Though a few solar panels on a few schools might hardly make a dent in helping the climate, the inspiration that they create for other projects could make quite an impact.

Yet one resounding issue that has persisted is whether solar panels are actually practical and effective in helping the environment. Though some have argued that solar panels take up lots of surface area in relation to the benefits they give, they are shockingly efficient; a study on solar panels found that creating an area of solar panels five-by-five kilometers in the Australian desert would power all of Australia with almost no other energy sources required. Australia was found to work because it’s sunny—but so is California. The foulness of “June Gloom” compared to the midwest’s winters is similar in comparison to a five-year old’s birthday party versus Prom. And solar panels actually have presented a very cost-effective solution for California’s debts. Katie Dickinson, grade 11 and president of the Ecology Club at Tesoro High School, has argued that, “…solar panels are beneficial to the environment in that they do not produce emissions of greenhouse gases…as well as decreasing the use of foreign oil, saving the economy from more expenses.” The cost of oil has continued to rise, so solar panels will eventually become more cost-effective as a fuel source. Also, schools can often have some of the highest electricity bills of any institution, and though they require an investment in the short term, solar panels have proven cost effective in the long term for school districts like Los Angeles USD, which has seen reduced electrical bills outweighing the cost of the solar panels. This has meant that more money has been able to go into academics and extracurriculars for these schools, and there’s no reason Tesoro—and other CUSD schools—can’t be next in receiving these benefits.

The coalition of clubs has called for you to take action in order to gain the support for this momentous project. Their petition has been placed at www.cusdsolar.org. By signing it, you can support the effort and get it noticed by the district. Your help is needed to create a sustainable future!

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Kyle Krueger

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