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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Harvesting the Sun

I just finished reading through an article about manure on NY times (see more here), and it got me thinking. With mankind's ability to streamline production of everything from Milk to Power, we have surpassed the stage of simply harvesting resources and building all we can with them. Yesteryear we afforded ourselves the luxury of not worrying about how our resources would renew themselves or how we would deal with the resulting garbage from our every day operations. Yet as we product and consume resources at an ever increasing rate, the question of what to do with all the leftovers from our operations becomes more pressing.

So far we have become very industrious at making the world into our image, a one way street where we find resources, build factories to harvest them, bring goods to market and move on to the next resource. This bold forward arrow to progress is being tempered by the realization that if we do not renew our resources and tie up all the loose ends of the production process, we are limiting our future growth. A fancy way to say we are degrading our environment, the very place we live and call home.

The cycle they described in the article above I found intriguing, if not practical. Manure from the dairy cows was used to fertilize the fields that grew their feed. They ate the feed to give them sustenance and produce milk, which we use. The sun makes it all work by growing the grass. And that is where I get to our title for this post.

The image I have in my head is of people who survive by harvesting the energy given off by the Sun. All our oil (old forests grown in sunlight millions of years ago), milk (cows <- grass <- sun), fresh water (evaporated by the sun) all work because of the feint wisps of power that make their journey from the Sun to our home impart to all the beings here an enormous amount of energy. As human beings we are seeking the best and most efficient way to harvest that energy, wether it be through vast tracts of grain and grazing land to feed cattle or thin film solar energy. I think in some way that makes us children of the Sun.

The children of the Sun Harvest the Sun to survive. How fitting.

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