Month 10, Day 7: Weeeeeell, Alllllllll Riiiiiiiight!

Well. After the disappointing outcome of McKibben’s White House visit last month, I was all set to give up this particular facet of advocacy for a while. And then the President went ahead and said “yes!”

Here comes the sun: White House to go solar

By DINA CAPPIELLO – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON — Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama’s house.

The most famous residence in America plans to install solar panels for the first time atop the White House’s living quarters. The solar panels — which will be installed by spring 2011 — will heat water and supply some of the first family’s electricity.

It would be great to think that the letters, faxes and phone calls all of us sent and made actually had a difference.

Dear President Obama,

I’m deeply gratified to hear that you are moving forward with a solar installation on the White House. Such an application of technology is long overdue. While it’s true that this is a symbolic gesture, the simple truth is that in our celebrity-obsessed culture, any act by a public figure has a symbolic dimension.

Putting solar panels on your house sends a message to your countryfolk that you are serious about renewable energy, and about making the shift that we need to make, away from fossil fuels.

I’d like to tell you a very short story. Just before the 2008 Democratic Convention, I hosted a platform meeting, inviting about twelve other people (some of whom I’d never met) to my home to discuss ways for the Democratic Party to change its platform. One couple was in their eighties; I had known them thirty-five years earlier, when I was in high school and their son was a friend of mine.

All of us shared stories of what had brought us to this level of involvement in your historic presidential campaign. Mr. F_____, my friend’s father, said, “When Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House roof, I was inspired. I read up on how to do it, and built my own solar water heater. And it’s worked perfectly for the past thirty years, it’s still making hot water today, and it’s saved us thousands and thousands of dollars.” And then he said, “Mr. Obama seems like he’d be a president who’ll inspire people.”

I have been hoping for the past two years that America would start taking really serious action about global climate change. It is, after all, our nation’s population who are the world’s largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases — and it is our nation, more than any other, which has institutionalized political and corporate opposition to genuine change in the interdependent spheres of environmental and economic policy.

I wrote to you earlier this year, urging you to put solar on the White House — and at the time, I said, “If you do it on your house, I’ll do it on mine.”

It’s going to take me a few months, but I will — and I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for the inspiration.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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