Dear Editor,

There seems to be two schools of thought regarding solar farms. Some say they are inefficient, too expensive and take too much farmland out of production. Others say we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels to slow climate change. Scientists say the point of no return for reversing climate change is within as little as a decade. Some see no immediate benefit for us by going green, the benefits are not immediate but will affect the quality of life for generations to come.

They are predicting a population increase of an additional two billion souls in the next twenty-five years on this planet. Some believe this planet has an inexhaustible source of fossil fuel and no need to go green.

Do you believe this planet has an inexhaustible supply of anything? Aquafers around the planet are being pumped dry. We were vacationing in Nebraska some 20 years ago; I had a conversation with a farmer about his crops and the cost of irrigating his thousands of acres of corn. He said when he was a young man, they pumped irrigation water from the Quala aquifer, pumping from a depth of 140 feet to the water, today they are pumping from a water level of 450 foot below the surface. Scientists say the Quala aquifer is replenished at a rate of one foot of water every 100 years. The aquifer lies under five western states. The farmer said if he had to go back to dry land farming his yields would be reduced by half. What would that do to the cost of our groceries?

Farmland lost for any reason–highways, solar farms or urban sprawl–will need to be more closely regulated in the future. I believe urban sprawl devours more farmland than highways or solar farms. I grew up in a township in the 50s that supported dairy and hog farms, vegetable farms, orchards, nurseries and mushroom growing operations. I watched these farms disappear and subdivision materialize. Developers would strip a farm of its most valuable asset–topsoil– then demolish the home and all outbuildings and clear the land of any trees.

There is an upside to solar farms–they will help stem climate change–and with American ingenuity you can count on improved efficiency in the future. What upside is there in urban sprawl?

— Tom Janicki