The Ultimate Solar Battery
You may not be aware that the Earth is one giant solar powered battery. Since our planet's beginning, the Earth has taken energy from the sun, absorbed this energy through plants, and stored the energy in ever-improving, efficient ways. Animals eating plants condense the plant energy, then die, their bodies contributing to the mix with dead plants to create soil. The soil then layers upon itself through the years and again energy is naturally converted into oil and coal, storing gas in underground chambers.
Year after year the Earth adds resources into the ground. These resources allow us to create a society based on stored energy. So what happens when we start drawing out more energy than the Earth can process from the sun? Just like any battery, eventually the planet will die, or at least lose enough of a charge that it won't support us anymore.
According to the Global Footprint Network, since 2002 we have been using more resources than the Earth can provide. Just the very act of tilling soil releases stored carbon into the air. Fossil fuels, stored over millions of years, are finite, and much of the material we create out of this stored energy is nonrenewable, such as many types of plastic. The surprise about this is that even the developed countries, whose populations aren’t growing and who are focusing on energy efficiency, are using many more resources than their land can provide, usurping energy needs from countries that are abundant in resources. Interestingly enough, it's the underdeveloped countries that have been decreasing their carbon footprint.
It isn’t clear that technological advances in collecting energy directly from the sun and bypassing the stored energy from organic life will reverse this trend. If we can’t find better ways of producing energy and allow our earth to regenerate by leaving it alone, our battery will eventually run down.Tweet