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Harness the Sun

  • November 29, -0001
In our little town of Hamilton a flock of turkey vultures roosts on the old water tower behind the Baptist Church. These late summer days, when the air is a little cool, they will often mount up together and soar, in fairly tight circles, kettling over the town as they drift from thermal to thermal, looking for food and just enjoying the ride. I've counted as many as 60 of them at a time engaging in these afternoon reveries.

The birds know how to convert the power of the sun into energy for flight. Where the sun irregularly heats the earth, the climb rate of heated air is able to overcome the sink rate (pull of gravity) of the vultures, providing a natural lift for the birds. The vultures' wing-to-body ratio has been perfectly created to allow them to travel with ease on these currents of rising air, and it is a beautiful sight to see.

As the energy crisis continues to vex our nation's leaders, perhaps it's time we made a decisive turn toward alternative power, especially wind and solar. Innovation in these areas has been hindered by Big Oil's dominance of the energy market and their comfortable relationship with lawmakers. Even environmentalists - of all people - have tried to foil development of wind and solar power, in the name of preserving some desert or prairie landscape which they suddenly discovered they just love.

But if even bird brains can figure out how to convert the energy of the sun and wind to flight, surely there must be even more wondrous and astonishing innovations to be discovered by men. Scripture encourages us to be innovative and creative in our use of the creation's resources; but as long as we prefer our dependence on fossil fuels, we will not be likely to make many strides in developing alternative energy sources. These are hard choices, I know, but something like a national agenda and mandate to replace fossil fuels with those which are more abundantly, readily, and cleanly available might just begin to move us in the right direction.

T. M. Moore

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