The earth is getting warmer, glaciers are melting, and important ecosystems are being destroyed. It seems that every new documentary released on Netflix reveals another way that humans are destroying the planet. While taking on climate change is an admittedly daunting task, there are many ways that government incentive programs and investments in eco-friendly technology can make a difference. Electric cars and solar panels are two such eco-friendly technologies that have the potential to save the planet, while also saving families money in the long run.
Norway has made it their goal to eliminate vehicles fuelled with fossil fuels by 2025 completely. While many may find this goal a bit ambitious, they are well on their way to success. Currently, Norway has the highest number of electric cars per capita in the world. An impressive 40 percent of newly registered cars in 2016 were electric. Although Norway is a country whose people genuinely care about the environment, government-funded incentive programs have helped persuade drivers in the right direction as well. To eliminate the financial benefit of buying a gas-powered vehicle, Norway provides significant tax breaks and other benefits to owners of electric-powered vehicles.
Proponents of traditionally gas-powered vehicles may argue that electric vehicles that are charged using fossil-fuel generated electricity actually produce more greenhouse gas emissions than a gas-powered vehicle itself. While this is true, nearly 98 percent of Norway’s electricity is generated using hydropower technology, which means electric cars virtually leave no carbon footprint.
Despite the lack of incentive programs available, the United States currently places third for the highest number of electric vehicles in the world. Nearly 500,000 Americans drive vehicles powered via electricity. Given that the current population of the United States is closing in on 326 million, however, this number is relatively small. Recently, 400,000 Americans paid to be on a waiting list for the new, less-expensive Tesla. This demonstrates that interest may be picking up in America, which could be a huge win for the environment.
The sun is one of the most underused natural sources for energy in the world. It doesn’t require high winds, strong currents, or even much of an investment. One country that has successfully integrated solar energy into their power system is the United Kingdom. Recently, on one particularly sunny Saturday in the United Kingdom, solar power produced six times more electricity than the country’s coal-burning power stations. This was a huge accomplishment that demonstrated the tremendous energy-generating capabilities of the sun.
Perhaps the best part about solar energy is the fact that individual households can utilize the power of the sun to decrease their utility bills and carbon footprint. Now is a better time than ever to invest in solar panel technology since costs have fallen 85 percent in the past seven years. Not only is solar energy an environmentally friendly way to power a home, but it saves homeowners money on energy bills over time.
Admittedly, neither solar panels nor electric cars are small household investments. However, both have the potential to significantly decrease a household’s carbon footprint, while also setting families up for a better financial future in the long run.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.