big-box solar, solar panels, climate change

Solar panels being installed on a Walmart in Chula Vista, California.

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned for the planet’s future. One bright spot in the fight against climate change is the rise in solar power use in the United States.

Solar power is more affordable than ever before. The cost of the average solar panel has dropped by 70% since 2014 and the country’s total solar capacity has risen from 0.34 gigawatts to an impressive 97.2 gigawatts since 2008. Today, more than 3% of the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from solar panels.

The best way to expand on solar power growth is by finding new surfaces to place panels. One of the most underutilized are the roofs of America’s big-box retail stores. According to a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, the average Walmart has 180,000 square feet of rooftop, which is about the size of three football fields.

Just one Walmart rooftop could generate enough solar energy to power 200 homes.


via Walmart/Flickr

There are more than 100,000 big-box superstores in the United States with about 7.2 million square feet of rooftop. If every one were outfitted with solar panels, they could generate enough electricity to power almost 8 million homes.

That change from dirty to clean power would cut annual greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of removing 11.3 million cars off the road.

One big-box retailer that has made a significant commitment to solar power is Ikea. According to The Grist, Ikea has solar installations on 90% of its U.S. locations. In 2019, Ikea made a huge commitment to alternative energy by purchasing 1 million solar panels, 535 wind turbines and two solar parks.

A solar installation at a location in Baltimore, Maryland—not the sunniest spot in America—was able to cut the amount of energy the store purchased by 84%.

via Scott Lewis/Flickr

How do we get the rest of America's big-box retailers to do the same?

The Biden Administration is currently working on extending the federal investment tax credit for rooftop solar for 10 more years, which would put direct payments into the hands of retailers. However, the tax credit extension is part of the Build Back Better Bill that has stalled in the U.S. Senate.

"Every rooftop in America that isn't producing solar energy is a rooftop wasted as we work to break our dependence on fossil fuels and the geopolitical conflicts that come with them," Johanna Neumann, senior director for Environment America's Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, told CNN. "Now is the time to lean into local renewable energy production, and there's no better place than the roofs of America's big-box superstores."

Solar panels have become so affordable they are a total no-brainer for residences and businesses alike. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that major corporations want us to think they care about what we care about. They should know that one of the best ways to show they care about the planet is to prove it by utilizing every square foot on their roofs to help fight climate change.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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