Indirectly, Ottawa winters provide a good demonstration of just how immense a quantity of solar energy there really is on this planet. Consider the fact that the Earth’s axial tilt produces thirty degree weather here in the summer and negative thirty degree weather here in the winter. Walk out onto the frozen surface of Dow’s Lake and think about how the only reason the lake is ever liquid is because of the massive amount of solar energy striking it in the spring and summer. Then, recall that all the lakes and seas everywhere on Earth would freeze solid without the constant solar influx. This is well illustrated by the frozen moons in the outer portion of our solar system.
Burning all the world’s fossil fuels wouldn’t let us keep oceans liquid, in the absence of solar assistance. Moving to an energy system that relies directly (solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar) or indirectly (wind, hydroelectricity, biomass) on the sun is an overwhelmingly important part of creating a sustainable society. The amount of energy available to harness vastly exceeds the amount we can drill or dig up out of the ground.