The Renewable Road Not Taken, and a Chance to Take It Now

A solar installation company is offering to put solar panels on the White House for free. If President Obama is seriously committed to curbing emissions and preventing runaway climate change, there is simply no better way to show the world that commitment than to run his own house — the seat of the most powerful government in the world — on clean, green solar energy.

The company, California-based Sungevity, sent a letter to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama telling them that “we need a bold statement from the First Family saying that clean energy works, saves money, creates jobs, and is something ‘I want for my home.’”

Sungevity also has a petition online that you can sign to show your support for solar energy and urge Obama to accept the company’s offer to donate and install a comprehensive solar system at no cost to the Obamas or American taxpayers.

The White House of course has had solar panels once before: A 32-panel system was installed in 1979 by President Carter, who said, “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of the road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest adventures ever undertaken by the American People.” It was of course an example of the road not taken — at least so far. Reagan removed the panels in 1986, but Obama has a chance to rectify the Gipper’s shortsighted mistake.

Now would be the perfect time for Obama to aggressively sell Americans on the merits of renewable energy. Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, etc. are not just infinite and free resources; they also require a whole lot less environmental degradation to produce and would not be susceptible to spills, explosions, fires, and other catastrophic failures that plague the fossil fuels industries.

We were recently given two stark, tragic reminders of the damage that mining and drilling for fossil fuels takes on local ecosystems and human lives.

Clean up continues in West Virginia, where 29 miners lost their lives in an explosion two weeks ago at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico, where the search was just called off for 11 workers still missing after an offshore oil rig leased by BP caught fire and sank.

Were Obama to accept the Sungevity offer, it would also show that he is committed to stopping these types of tragedies from affecting any more Americans and American communities.

Image credit: Sungevity

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