Like every movement that sweeps the mainstream and becomes a household entity, there is always a small legion of pioneers who were behind its success from the start. They orchestrated its growth, but are often forgotten once that thing started to get big.
It’s the same with renewable energy. In homes and businesses across the world, people are using solar panels to save money and do their bit for the environment, while countless farms use turbines to generate energy. It’s no longer reduced to a minute portion of society.
But, are we aware of those figures responsible for the success of renewables? Today, we’re going to celebrate those figures. These are the people who either raised awareness of renewable living, or pioneered its technology.
Rachel Carson published her landmark work Silent Spring back in 1962, and for it she grew to international acclaim. Silent Spring was Carson’s treatise on the dangers of pesticides, and how those widely-used substances were actually damaging to the environment.
The Pennsylvanian writer and ecologist earned global recognition for her passion and enthusiasm, with the progressive nature of her work infuriating government authorities at the time.
A true champion of green living, Carson was the first to highlight the fact that we must sustain the environment we live in, rather than the other way around. She died in 1964 after a long battle with breast cancer.
Environmental expert and UK government advisor Jonathan Porrit started his career in the 1970s as a Green Party activist, and soon enough he was appointed Chairman of the Green Party. As if this weren’t enough for him, he went on to share his knowledge as a teacher in a West London comprehensive school.
This is how Porrit would spend the next 10 years, until 1984 when he formed Friends of the Earth: a community of renewable-energy experts and enthusiasts whose groundbreaking work paved the way for the popularity of solar and wind energy. The community he created is still alive and kicking today.
Porrit remains a staunch opponent of nuclear energy and has rallied against many governmental authorities to tackle carbon emissions. Among countless other achievements, he is currently environmental advisor for numerous figures, including Prince Charles.
He probably needs little introduction, as he has been beamed into our front rooms for many, many years. He’s the sonorous, ringing voice that brings us the natural world, and at 91 years old he shows no signs of stopping.
David Attenborough is our nation’s sweetheart, a one-man institution that we are proud to call our own. After two stints with the BBC, the latter lasting almost a lifetime, Attenborough’s career has taken him across the globe.
From his cherished Life on Earth series to the famed 1979 scene in which he relaxes with a gorilla community, his knowledge of the natural world and conservation efforts is unrivalled.
Not only was Wangari Maathai the first environmentalist to win a Nobel Peace Prize, but she was also the first African-born woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Around the late 1970s, she founded the Green Belt Movement, the indigenous movement from Kenya that started from the ground-up and is now widely renowned.
Along with the Green Belt Movement, Maathai is responsible for planting more than 10 million trees in Africa: a monumental achievement given that huge portions of its land are harvested each year.
Similar to a lot of the figures in this blog, Maathai came up against a lot of conflict from her contemporaries. One of her crowning achievements was scuppering the plans to build luxury homes on more than a hundred acres of African land. Quite the spanner in the works, then!
The man who preserved Yosemite, John Muir has gone down in history for his conservation efforts. Known as ‘the Father of National Parks’, Muir grew up in Dunbar – east of Edinburgh – and emigrated to the United States at age 10.
An early interest in nature soon blossomed into a passion, leading to a lifelong quest of preservation. Building on the naturalism of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Muir wrote prolifically on the restorative power of nature and how being in nature was beneficial for both body and mind.
We have Muir to thank for our whole culture of national parks and their preservation efforts: a true hero of the environment.
Be a pioneer – with us
Though we could never aspire to such heights, we do share many of the sentiments of the above figures. We’ve spent years developing our methods and fine tuning our products, all for the greater good of the environment.
If Muir, Maathai, or Carson could see how far we’ve come with solar energy, we reckon they’d be be over the moon. They’ve passed their spirit and expertise over to us, and the solar energy movement has them to thank.
If you’d like to be part of the solar energy community, give us a call on 0800 112 3110 or fill in an enquiry form here.