Photovoltaics, rain forests critical in ecological restoration
Globalization is changing our world economically, culturally and environmentally. It promotes consumerism, claiming that consumer choice is a highly desirable form of individual freedom. As increasing numbers of jobs are transferred to countries with low labor costs and low environmental standards, a sober reconsideration of the joys of consumption settle in.
Deeply disturbing environmental trends include oil and natural gas depletion, global warming, increased destruction of tropical rain forests, clean air and water, and soil degradation and loss. As we busily go about our daily lives, we seldom consider how our consumption impacts the global environment.
During our recent visit to Peru, we were challenged by the rector (president) of The National University of Education to assist him in introducing solar technologies to rural villages and helping rural people restore the Amazon rain forest.
We accepted the challenge with a disclaimer. We would see what we could do but could not make any promises as to what we would accomplish.
We decided our best approach would be to bring him here to see what we and others are doing with solar energy and ecological restoration. He accepted our invitation and will make two presentations at this years Energy Fair. He might make a request to fair participants similar to what he made to us.
While he is here, he will visit solar installations and nearby ecological restoration projects. He will have an opportunity to talk with people active in the projects. These experiences will give him a sense of direction of what might be possible to do in Peru.
As the president of the major teacher training institution in Peru, he and his faculty have the opportunity to make an impact on Peruvian teachers and the school curriculum. He will also give some new vitality to the environmental sloganthink globally and act locally.
Both the solar and rain forest projects involve technological transfer. The intent is to build capacity in Peru to implement technologies to help meet the basic needs of people living in small rural communities. They will need to design, implement and maintain these projects. They need access to useful information. Appropriate teaching materials will have to be designed combining both hands-on experiences and computer related skills to exchange information with others. Spokespeople for both projects will emerge. Of course, the projects will need funds to be successful.
This transfer of technology will provide us a measure of climate protection, spread ecological restoration skills to another area of the planet and have beneficial impacts on our local communities. It might help restore a measure of good will lost when globalization takes the resources of the South and transfers them to the North, leaving an increasing number of rural people less able to support themselves.
Restoring the rain forest will help preserve genetic diversity, sequester carbon dioxide and re-establish local sustainable lifestyles. Photovoltaics can improve the standard of living in rural villages, expand the market for solar energy and lower its costs. These actions cooperatively help sustain the planet.