Sun has power to save the Earth
By Armando J. Olivera and Eric Draper
A little over 40 years ago, on Christmas Eve 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 was completing a lunar orbit when a remarkable sight appeared in the window of the command module. It was the Earth, 240,000 miles away, rising above the horizon like a blue-white marble. Little did they know it at the time, but Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders would fundamentally change how we think about our planet. The image they captured that day, called "Earthrise," made us realize more powerfully than ever before that this is the only home we have.
In a word, they gave us perspective. And perspective is what’s badly needed in our energy and environmental policy these days. The political process easily succumbs to the tyranny of the urgent. But it is the longer-term issues, such as climate change and preserving our natural heritage, that will determine the quality of life for our children and grandchildren.
Whether it’s passing legislation in Tallahassee to expand renewable energy in Florida, or enacting a cap-and-trade bill in Washington to put a price on carbon, we need policymakers with the vision to see how their actions shape our world. Our hope is that the Florida Legislature and U.S. Congress will understand that climate change is the defining issue of our time and pursue policies that pave the way for more emissions-free power.
The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which we celebrated at a groundbreaking ceremony last week at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, is a great example of what our energy future must look like. It will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons. It will use no water and produce no waste. It will reduce annual fossil fuel use by more than 100,000 barrels of oil. It will reduce price volatility with the fuel that is always 100 percent free. And combined with the other solar plants that FPL is building in the state, it will make Florida No. 2 in the nation for solar power.
From space, it’s easy to see our planet as it really is — a fragile ecosystem with human beings as the only stewards able to preserve it for all inhabitants. Here on Earth, it is imperative that we capture more of the sunlight that illuminated that first Earthrise.
Armando J. Olivera is president and CEO of Florida Power & Light Company. Eric Draper is policy director for Audubon of Florida