As I’ve written before, politics and ideology plague the climate change dialogue. It is a classic example of the false dilemma fallacy or specifically, the false choice fallacy. It goes something like this. Climate change exists. We need a solution. Either we [fill in the blank] or we’re all doomed, and women will be forced into prostitution.
That’s why a new law passed in France is so refreshing. The law declares that all new buildings in commercial areas must either have rooftops with solar panels or plants. It is the or bit that is a good change of pace.
The Island You Might Want to Avoid
If you travel regularly between cities and rural areas, you know the heat island effect firsthand. The city heats up during the day due to the amount of heat-absorbing dark-colored surfaces. The effect compared to rural settings is dramatic. The French law is a win-win solution.
Either you make that solar radiation work for you, or you use it to grow plants while lowering temperatures. It is the fact that it is a choice that makes the difference.
No longer is it the dogmatic response that you must install a solar panel. Instead, the French government recognizes two solutions to the same problem. Solar panels aren’t the end-all solution for everyone. There are problems
Solar Panel Issues
Let me go on the record to say that I believe solar panels work as standalone solutions. If you can afford to invest and wait for the ROI, go for it. However, large-scale solar power has problems that have yet to be addressed. Birds getting killed when flying near solar plants is an issue. All lives matter.
Then there are the geographic and topographic limitations. Science hasn’t figured out to make the sun shine at a different angle in the northern latitudes or tucked down in valleys. If I have a problem getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure in the winter because I live in Minnesota, a solar panel isn’t likely to do much better. It is what it is.
A Suite of Solutions
The French law is an acknowledgement that there can be more than one solution to a problem. Many factors come into play, not the least of which is cost and efficacy.
Perhaps if the dialogue shifts more toward a suite of solutions, we can move away from this false choice scenario. It does no one any good to dismiss the solutions that don’t happen to be the favorite ones of any political group. I said it before, I’ll say it again. We all want the same things: clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment.