350.org Scores Solar Victory

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson 

I was planning to write about 350.org‘s 10/10/10 work party today, and I’ll say a little about it (with all the links you could ever want) in a moment.  But first, you’ve got to read this. And if you don’t have the back story, read here. There’s also a post from me here, including comments you shouldn’t miss if you want to appreciate just what a victory this is.

Big Victory! White House Goes Solar!

You all may have already heard the news that our campaign to get the White House to install solar panels has been a big success! It’s just the boost we’re looking for headed into this Sunday’s Global Work Party. Here’s our official press statement that’s been going out to media around the world.

October 5, 2010

Bill McKibben Congratulates President Obama for Taking the White House Solar Leading up to Sunday’s Global Work Party around the World

Washington, DC — Just in time to give the Global Work Party a White House-sized boost, the Obama administration announced this morning that they are going to put solar panels on the First Family’s living quarters, returning to a tradition begun by president Jimmy Carter and abandoned by Ronald Reagan.

350.org founder Bill McKibben urged President Obama to install his new set of solar panels back on September 10 as part of 350.org’s 10/10/10 Global Work Party, a day when millions of people across the planet will be getting to work on climate solutions.

“The White House did the right thing, and for the right reasons: they listened to the Americans who asked for solar on their roof, and they listened to the scientists and engineers who told them this is the path to the future,” said McKibben. “If it has anything like the effect of the White House garden, it could be a trigger for a wave of solar installations across the country and around the world. Obama’s not the only world leader taking the challenge. Tomorrow Maldivian president Mohammed Nasheed will install panels on his official residence, and on Sunday 7000 communities around the world will engage in similar projects.”

When he dedicated the original set of panels in 1979, President Carter stated:

“In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy. A generation from now this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”

In 1986, President Reagan removed the panels and let subsidies for renewable energy expire. A number of the panels were donated to Unity College in the 1990s.

Over 40,000 people signed a letter urging President Obama to install a new set of panels at the campaign’s PutSolarOn.It website. The site provided live updates from the road and a chance for the public to interact with the road trip participants.

The website is here.


The next time 10/10/10 comes around (after this Sunday) will be on October 10, 2110. Bill McKibben and the organization he founded, 350.org, are working their precious tails off to see that our descendants can still inhabit Earth then.

[If you don’t know the significance of the number 350, the first thing to do on 350’s front page is scroll down a couple of inches to the orange rectangle in the right-hand column and read what it has to say, including the links. Then you’ll understand what I write next.]

To help make that happen, 350.org has organized work parties (with equal emphasis on both words) in 185 of the world’s 190 countries, and they haven’t given up on the remaining five, either. Maybe you know someone in one of them.

Exciting things will be happening Sunday. Here you can probably find one within a reasonable distance from you.

There is joy to be experienced in addressing a serious problem in a life-affirming, positive way. That’s what Sunday is about (that, and calling on the world’s leaders to get more involved than they have been so far).  If you can’t get out to a 10/10 event, visit the site frequently from now through the weekend and even after. You’ll find things you can do to be a part of it all, I’m sure.

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