The modern lifestyle doesn’t allow us to enjoy the sun as we might like to. It is quite common to have to sit indoors on front of a computer monitor instead of enjoying a glorious day outside. In addition to that, the sun gets a really bad rap these days. We’re warned about cancer risks, heat waves brought on by global warming and premature aging caused by sun damage to the skin.
All of these are legitimate concerns, of course, but do you know how many truly wonderful things the sun has done and continues to do for us?
Natural Sunlight is one of the primary reasons that life in its current abundance and beauty is possible on earth. Sunlight is, in scientific terms, electromagnetic radiation given off by the sun. It can take energy anything between 10 000 and 170 000 years to move from the sun’s interior to the exterior where it is emitted. This energy is used by plants to perform photosynthesis that in turn allows us to breathe and eat the products of this energy.
Rainforests are responsible for 28% of the world’s oxygen turnover and they are home to approximately 75% of the world’s biotic species. Rainforests are also responsible for 25% of the world natural medicines. These are just a few marvellous things made possible by simple sun energy.
Did you know that the development of solar technologies had been in development as early as 1860? It was thought that coal would soon run out and alternative sources for power would be needed. The abundance and availability of coal and petroleum, however, led to the stagnation of the process until the 1970’s. Solar Power accounted for 0.41% of the world’s power in 2012 (still a long way to go) but this showed enormous growth from the previous year where it made up 0.27% of power supply.
Solar power will continue to grow as it becomes cheaper to install panels and smaller home devices become available for private use. IKEA have already decided to make solar panel packages available in their 17 of their stores by mid – 2014. In the future, it is very likely that the utilisation of solar power will become a very normal part of our lives.
It is known that short periods spent in the sun help your body produce Vitamin D. It is not really necessary to spend more than 15 minutes a day in the sun to benefit from this (although the exact amount of time will vary according to how light or dark your skin is). Natural sunlight is also associated with healthy eye development in young children.
However, it is never healthy to look directly into the sun and this can cause lasting damage to the eyes. Natural sunlight in moderate doses is also recommended to avoid feeling depressed (as many people in Nordic and European countries experience during winter months). Many people install skylights into their homes to fully capitalise on the benefits of natural light.
Mythology and Religion
Knowing how important the sun is for our survival on earth, it is not surprising that many ancient cultures worshipped the sun and made it part of their mythology. In fact, the Egyptian God Ra(also known as Re) was worshipped as the creator of the world and everything in it. His process of creation was by speaking their secret names. Humans were created from Ra’s tears and sweat and that is why ancient Egyptians called themselves “Cattle of Ra”.
Although it is always important to take care in direct sunlight and make sure that you don’t burn or get dehydrated, it’s also important to realize that it is also an important life force.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://office.microsoft.com/en-za/images/results.aspx?qu=nature#ai:MP900178497|
Louisa Theart is a freelance musician and writer. She has an insatiable curiosity for just about everything and enjoys sharing the unexpected facts she finds.