links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter


Posted on on July 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from: Bill McKibben – <>
date Thu, Jul 8, 2010
subject: Tell Obama: Put Solar on the White House!

Dear Friends,

Washington DC is in the grip of an epic heat wave as I write these words. It hasn’t been enough to get our Senators and Congressmen to do anything about the climate crisis, but it is a constant reminder of the sun’s power, going to waste.

We thought we all could do something about that this summer, so today we’re launching a little campaign asking President Obama to put solar panels on the roof of the White House. It’s easy to sign on–just click the following link to add your name.

This new campaign is part of our huge push towards the 10/10/10 Global Work Party, where millions of people in 114 countries (and counting!) have already signed up to do something sustainable in their communities on that October day. We hope the president will join in both the work and the party, and help install those panels–if you agree, we’ve made it incredibly simple for you to send along your invitation. Just click here. And just so you don’t think we’re singling out the president, we’re launching this same campaign today in every other country in the world.

President Obama won’t, of course, be doing much to solve climate change with just that one act alone. We really need him to push for comprehensive laws that put a price on carbon and wean us off coal and oil–push much harder than he has so far. We’re a little worried that the Obama administration will use their new solar panels to claim that they’re sincere about climate change without working to pass the legislation and enact the regulations that really matter–none of us wants to be used for a photo opportunity. That’s why the message we’ll all be sending is: you’ve taken symbolic action, so now get to work on the real thing.

And the symbolic action is important. Solar panels sat on the roof of the White House during the Carter administration, but were pulled down by the next occupant of the building, and never replaced. That sent a simple message: renewable energy didn’t really matter. (Not surprisingly, when the panels came down the subsidies for solar energy also disappeared, and now other nations are leading the way on clean energy).

We need the opposite message: every roof  in the country should have solar panels–for hot water and for electricity. Panels on the White House will remind every visitor to Washington of that simple fact–it will do as much good as the wonderful organic garden that the First Lady planted on the South Lawn. (In the year since, the number of Americans with vegetable gardens grew 19%; Burpee Seeds reported sales up by a third!).

Nothing replaces legislation that really cuts carbon.

But one way to build support for those changes is to show how easy it is to start to work. So tell President Obama-it’s time to roll up those sleeves, put solar on the White House and join the Global Work Party!


Bill McKibben for

P.S. Good news arrived just as we were getting ready to launch this global campaign. President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives confirmed he’d be up on the roof of his official residence on 10/10/10 putting up a solar array. It’s fifteen degrees cooler today in his capital city than it is in Washington, so there’s every reason to hope President Obama will match his gesture!


If in need of solar panels, we just got the following e-mail:…

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article