On June 24, 2015, four Greenpeace activists climbed to the roof of the parliament building in New Zealand and installed eight solar panels. This was done to bring more awareness to the issue of climate change and just what climate action means. This question becomes complicated (and at times, hopeless) when we look at the various factors contributing to climate change.
The reality is that the majority of carbon dioxide released into the air comes from only 90 entities. This is not some strange coincidence. It is a fact which easily demonstrates that climate change is a systemic issue that touches many facets of our society and personal lives. Even if we all chose to recycle, we would still be on our way to climate catastrophe. Concerned citizens are often left wondering what they can do in the face of neoliberal waste production and politicians unwilling to take any measures to stop the oil barons from sucking us dry. The answer to the riddle is that we need a profound change in how we systematically collect and use energy. Lobbyists and corporate lawyers have bought out our legislatures and neutralized our courts. What is there left to do? Should we react violently to open corruption and disdain for our environment or is there another way?
Today, us Floridians, have a more accessible and impacting way to open the pathway to the energy source of the future; solar energy. A ballot initiative, entitled “Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply,” has been making the rounds. The initiative is for an amendment to the Florida constitution that would prevent local governments from curtailing the use of solar panels by everyday people. You can read the full text here. The organization that is promoting the ballot initiative is called Floridians for Solar Choice.
The petition has a wide range of support from different organizations throughout the political spectrum. The Libertarian Party of Florida and the Green Party of Florida are supporting it. Other groups include the Christian Coalition of America and Greenpeace USA.
If all goes well, Floridians will be able to vote in favor of this constitutional amendment in 2016. Last year, disillusionment with the corporate parties was made evident with record-low turnouts. Another thing to note was that the constitutional amendment received 57% of support from the voters. That’s more than any gubernatorial candidate received in that election day. Yet, unlike gubernatorial elections, the amendment needed 60% of the vote to pass. We hope that a more diverse and open-minded electorate will be made present in the 2016 presidential elections. To do this, we need to get the word out. Floridians for Solar Choice is currently recruiting volunteers to canvass for signatures. You can sign up with them right here.
Florida Power & Light has already attacked initiatives like this. They will, unless outed, keep toting the same line. They will claim that solar energy is too unreliable and that they do not want to be expected to provide emergency energy without being payed to provide backup energy. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), has not missed the scaremongering beat. The AFP is funded by David H. Koch of the infamous Koch Brothers. The AFP has launched a war against solar energy in other places like Georgia. Claiming that Georgia would suffer blackouts if solar energy was expanded, they have sought to plant fear in the hearts of the general population. Their main purpose being the perpetuation of American dependence on oil; a commodity that the Koch Brothers have a significant interest in. With this in mind, we need a healthy sense of urgency when advocating solar panels to voters. It is up to us to set the narrative for the public: solar energy is a clean, reliable, and cheap source of energy.