Solar energy is cheaper and more efficient than ever. The price of utility-scale solar dropped 85 percent from 2009 to 2016, and newer panels can power up on even cloudy days. Rooftop solar is now cost-competitive with the traditional grid in much of the U.S. Heck, some cutting-edge companies see a market so ripe for the picking they're developing entire roofs made of solar panels to sell to homeowners.
Forty years ago, the total global installation of solar was around two megawatts, enough to power around 330 homes. Today, it's closer to 224,000 megawatts. (You do the math!) And as you might expect, the more the price falls, the more attractive it becomes to, well, everyone.
So naturally the people cheering the loudest about the thrifty benefits of this sustainable energy source have been … celebrities!
Hey, wait a minute!
Sure, famous folks can sometimes seem like they live in a different universe from the rest of us, but just like you and me, a growing number of celebs care deeply about the future of our planet. (And not just because no planet, no EGOT!) And the very best of them not only practice what they preach by incorporating solar energy into their own lives, they also use their place in the spotlight to advocate for climate solutions. Below are a few of our favorite sunshine-loving superstars:
Though she's out to destroy the world as Hela in that awesome new Thor: Ragnarok, the real Blanchett seems more intent on saving it. The two-time Oscar winner not only powers her own home in Australia with solar, but she and her husband, as co-artistic directors of Sydney Theatre Company (STC), got to flip the switch on the 1,906 solar panels sitting on the company's home, the Wharf on Sydney Harbor, to help power the theater's operations and ultimately cut its utility expenses.
"If theatre doesn't engage with the big issues that face human beings and society generally, then it very quickly becomes irrelevant," Blanchett explained of STC's decision.
Here, we'll just let him explain it:
Louis-Dreyfus has won a boatload of Emmys playing a foul-mouthed fictional (former-vice) president on "Veep," but her commitment to environmentalism is what earns her four-star reviews in the Climate Reality offices. The actress and her writer-producer husband famously went all in on energy efficiency and sustainability when renovating their quaint two-story 1930s beachfront bungalow just north of Santa Barbara, California, including rooftop solar panels that generate electricity and heat the house, and even channel electricity back to the local utility company when no one's home, creating a credit.
In the years since, she has shown her commitment to climate solutions again and again. Louis-Dreyfus has spoken out against the Keystone XL pipeline, fought for clean water in Los Angeles and even stopped by our annual 24 Hours of Reality event last year to support the fight to make climate solutions a reality.
Norton, who is the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity and works on the BP Solar Neighbors Program, which matches each celebrity purchase of a solar-energy home with solar panels for a low-income family, knows it makes good business sense to invest in sustainable energy like solar.
"Smart companies already know this," Norton explained during 24 Hours of Reality. "People who are required to invest on 30-, 50-, 100-year timeframes know that non-sustainable models are not good investments, not good business practices … Those guys are very focused on the fact that long-term for their portfolio there's more economic value to be found if they can make their companies more efficient."
Sure, Maroon 5 isn't a single star but a band—so it's really six environmentally conscious celebs for the price of one! And we couldn't leave them off the list because they've gone to great lengths to incorporate renewable energy into every facet of their work. Among other things, the band uses its sellout tour stops to promote solar power and recycling within their concert venues.
Adam Levine and Co. have a very long history of speaking up about the value of personal energy reduction and alternative energy, and have teamed up in the past with movements that promote solar energy. For the band's most recent tour, Maroon 5 continued its longstanding work with Reverb, a nonprofit that educates and engages musicians and their fans to promote environmental sustainability, to make sure their roadshow was as green as can be.
Other artists who work with Reverb to minimize their environmental impact and promote climate action include Grammy winners Kacey Musgraves, Alabama Shakes and John Mayer.
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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