Aesthetics are a leading concern for homeowners when considering solar. A valid argument for a homeowner to make is that, if they bought the home and have to look at it every day, then visual pleasure is of the utmost importance. We often see improvements in the presentation of technology emerge over time. Solar arrays have drastically improved since their inception in the 1950s. The original bulky, blue panels have been replaced by sleek, black panels designed for both functionality and attractiveness. Society often holds high standards towards appearances. ‘Ugliness’ ranks an entity’s social class to inherent value. When using coal based energy, the power is invisible to the naked eye. Beyond this, what does coal energy look like? The ugliness in this type of power, while not as visually forward, is unsightly nonetheless.

Coal, the original energy producer, is one of the top air polluters in the World; it pollutes the air through mining, storage, transportation, and usage. Mountain tops are sometimes completely blown off in order to access the coal underneath, in a process called surface mining. This releases tons of waste  into streams and rivers. Underground coal mining exposes workers to health risks such as chronic lung diseases due to the constant inhalation of coal dust. When coal is burned, it releases smog into the air, causing asthma and chest pain to those who breathe it in. Air pollution from coal also contains toxic mercury that can contaminate drinking water, leaving newborns and children vulnerable to severe developmental issues. Over 140 million tons of toxic  waste related to coal is stored in deep gulfs known as toxic ash pits; living near a coal storage area is the equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes per day. Coal is the number one carbon dioxide releaser in the world due to its primary element being made up of carbon.

The production and usage of coal based energy is creating one of the ugliest occurrences known in the last century as global warming and climate change. With the rapid production of greenhouse gas emissions in the air, it is likely that by the year 2100, many of our coastal cities will suffer from severe flooding. If a future prediction does not speak loudly enough, visual effects of the coal industry can be seen today. Coal production causes deforestation, destruction of mountains, and pollution of our water supply. A variety of animal species, including polar bears and waterfowl, are becoming endangered as their environmental habitats dissolve. This is also affecting our health; children are being subjected to harmful air pollutants that cause serious breathing complications later in their lives. When considering the visual distraction that a solar system may bring to your roof, first consider the visual impact that your decision will have towards the depletion of coal based energy. Although subjective, the appearance of a solar panel system on a person’s roof signifies that in some way, they are concerned about the planet, and are working to prevent future air pollution. The raw and ugly truth of this matter is that behind the scenes of unhindered shingles, is a medley of air pollutants circulating over our heads.