[A rant, inspired by my recommendations. May be uncharitable. Epistemic status: Frustrated about how literally all the environmentalism that gets shoved in my face is incorporated with all the frustrating things about the Blue Tribe. If you want me to put up with having the house be at 15 ºC, then convince me that this is about actually protecting people’s interests, not about making the future some “utopia” that is, in fact, worse than the present.]
I like solar (and nuclear, and wind, and geothermal, and tidal, and so on) power as much as the next person.
I do not like solarpunk. Especially the way they posture as being utopian. I don’t want my objects that should be built to last (silverware, houses, etc) to be biodegradable or covered in plants (newsflash: Ivy breaks things). I don’t want to grow my own food and collect my own water. I don’t want to live in a tight-knit community where everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Why?
Because when I feel like everyone knows what I’m doing, even if they’d be perfectly okay with me doing [action], I would feel like doing [action] would mean I would later have to explain myself to people, which often sounds aversive. (I realized the full magnitude of how much of a problem this could be when I thought about sending someone I know who lives in a tight-knit community a postcard, which I wanted to address to a name they didn’t use with that community. In my city, if I got a letter to “Izidor c/o [Parent]”, the mail carrier would just assume that my parents had a guest. But if, say, the mail carrier and the grocers and the other residents of the neighborhood and so on all knew each other, then people would know that [Parent] did not have a guest and in fact had a household member who sometimes went by “Izidor”.) Nobody wants someone to add up all their metadata when the adder is the NSA, so why are you guys so thrilled to have the neighborhood gossip do that? At least the NSA doesn’t care that you’re obsessed with trains or who you’re dating.
Also: A little-known fact about solar panels is that they only receive energy while absorbing sunlight. I don’t care how ~aesthetic uwu~ it would be to have solar panel arrays shaped like trees or colored like leaves or what have you, if your panels overlap? Waste of resources. If your panels reflect green light to appear ~oooh like a leaf so shiny uwu~? Waste of resources. If your panels are partially transparent? Waste. Of. Resources. (Okay, okay, maybe the transparent stuff can go places you wouldn’t otherwise put panels, while still getting power from IR and/or UV. But the other stuff is a joke.)
I feel like the big black rectangles that most of us are used to when talking about solar panels wouldn’t really fit with the whole solarpunk aesthetic. So how about some alternative solar panel designs instead?
This is not about aesthetics! This is about producing electricity! Panels are black because that absorbs light! Panels are rectangles presumably because that’s easy to produce and, just as importantly, easy to continuously tile.
You know what are cool innovations in solar panels? Research into printable (!) carbon-based solar cells, and things like that. Are you ever going to talk about those? No, because it doesn’t look like something you’d find in the Green-Sky Trilogy or what have you, it’s not ~anti-authoritarian intentional living permaculture~, it just looks like, you know, actually useful stuff.
I like living in a society where I don’t have to grow my own food. I like living in a society where I don’t have to do everything through a tight-knit community. I like being able to not be constantly immersed in “Nature”. And it’s okay if you would prefer the presence of those things! But calling those things a “utopia” is, to say the least, iffy.