Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour

Solar Spill

A  D A D
We never saw it coming.                      A  D  A  D
It caught us unprepared,                       A  D  E–
The day that solar power                       A  D  A D
Started spilling everywhere.                  A  E  A–

At first it was a trickle, But then became a roar.
And nobody did ever see The likes of this before.

Ooh, a solar spill,                                                    A  D  A  E  A—
Who’s gonna pay the bill for a solar spill?   A  D  A  E  A—

It covered all the creatures On land and in the air.
It stuck to all their feathers, Got tangled in our hair!
There was sunshine in the backyard, And sunshine in the street.
We were tracking it all over the place, Be sure to wipe your feet!

Politicians all denied it, There was nothing in the news,
And corporations terrified That people got to choose.
Demanding cleaner energy, Demanding cleaner air,
Demanding that we treat this earth As if we really care!

You know, Exxon tried to stop it. The Koch brothers were on the run.
But you can’t get any subsidies From digging up the sun.
So people, take a lesson; Good citizens beware:
A solar spill means giving up Some corporate welfare!

Just think of all that energy Coming from the sky.
And now think of all the power bills That you can kiss goodbye!
And think of the economy, Making energy at home.
You get more jobs than you can count When the people make their own. CHORUS  

Words & music ©2015 Doug Hendren & Nancy Beall

What’s it about?   We are witnessing the beginning of a very rapid transition to renewable energy, despite the fossil industry’s vigorous attempts to prevent it. The great majority of new electrical generation is now renewable energy.

We’ve gotten so accustomed to the “hidden” costs of fossil fuels that we tend to ignore them when comparing the costs of alternative energy. Crude oil and gas pipeline leaks and ruptures are occurring every day in the United States. Over 3,300 such leaks have occurred since 2010. See this map. Did you know that the cheapest electricity in the United States now comes from wind and solar sources? Remarkably, this is true despite several unfair advantages enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry. For example, burning coal burdens Americans with an extra $500 billion per year in health care costs, according to a Harvard study;  “negative externalities” associated with oil include military costs in lives and money, air pollution, ecological and economic losses from events like the 2010 BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Natural gas pipeline explosions are all too common, and medical studies are only beginning to identify the hazards of contaminating groundwater and aquifers with fracking chemicals. And we’re not counting any costs relating to extreme weather events or climate change mitigation… yet. Fortunately, renewable energy technology is now able to make electricity more cheaply than gas, coal or oil, and much more cheaply than nuclear sources. And solar power in particular is getting cheaper all the time. We officially passed the parity point in 2013. Political opposition from fossil fuel interests have obscured this economic reality, but the writing is on the wall. Renewable energy investments (solar, wind, efficiency, building retrofitting, biomass, hydro) create three times more jobs per dollar invested than all fossil energy industries combined. We are witnessing a “solar spill”, something difficult for fossil-backed politicians to recognize. One of our Virginia senators recently told a local newspaper solar was “still 20 or 30 years away”. Humorist Will Rogers once said “It’s amazing what a fella can’t see if he is paid not to see it!” REFERENCES The Guardian: Fossil fuels subsidized by $10 million a minute, says IMF Full cost of coal $500 billion / year in U.S., Harvard study finds. The cheapest electricity in the US is…solar.

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