A Solar Victory and a Military Defeat

Five things are certain about solar panels going back on the White House roof:

They won’t generate nuclear waste;

They won’t be targets for terrorists hoping cause an atomic holocaust;

They’ll be working many years before any new atomic reactor could be built;

They’ll deliver usable heat and electricity far more cheaply than new nuclear plants;

They’ll make the US that much freer from the oil addiction that fuels our disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The great unknown: could this solar power zap Team Obama with the courage to confront the nuclear/military madness now destroying our nation?

These new panels go far beyond what Jimmy Carter installed and then Ronald Reagan tore down. Carter’s $30,000 rig was installed in 1979 to heat water, which it did.

Reagan’s 1986 tear-down defined his assault on the green power industry on behalf of King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).

We at Greenpeace marched with many others in 1991, at the launch of the first Gulf War, demanding George H.W. Bush reinstall the panels. He wouldn’t.

We asked the same of Bill Clinton. He wouldn’t either.

George W. Bush did quietly install some solar features on the White House.

After a first refusal, Obama says he’ll now re-instate solar water heating to the White House roof, AND will add photo-voltaic cells that will generate electricity.

Team Obama is clearly responding to the anger of the Democratic base, which expects the White House to be truly green.

This includes ferocious opposition to atomic energy. The administration recently granted $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for a double-reactor scam in Georgia. Barely underway, the project has already emitted $100 million in hikes for the state’s ratepayers. The builders are now asking for an extra $1 billion. Endless delays and cost overruns are as certain here as they were for the “first generation” of reactors, and as are now being endured in Finland and France.

But Steven Chu’s Department of Energy may want still more guarantees for yet another disastrous reactor project in Maryland, Texas or South Carolina. And Obama has pushed Congress to hand more money to a failed industry efficient and reliable only in wasting billions of public dollars.

Can we dream that the new solar panels will zap some green sense into Obama’s energy planners?

Likewise the military. Obama’s magic opportunity came when he “evaluated” escalating the war in Afghanistan, which is now officially ten years old, the longest in US history.

But through weeks of deliberations, he met only with “experts” in suits and uniforms. He never talked with his once-ardent and hopeful supporters in the grassroots movements for peace, justice and environmental preservation.

Now we read, from Bob Woodward and others, that the generals refused to even provide the President with the exit strategy he requested.

Who runs this country? The civilians or the military?

Obama’s tragic decision to escalate robbed the nation of the resources needed to rebuild our economy and employment.

So the Democrats now stumble blind into mid-term elections, void of a vision that shines with any real hope for an economic turn-around.

Restoring solar power to the White House is a tiny but tangible step toward the Solartopian future necessary to our survival.

Now must come the definitive demise of atomic power. Imagine what an amazing green-powered Earth we’d now occupy had all those billions not been squandered on that failed technology.

And we need a fearless focus on the gargantuan military budget that cripples our moral and fiscal core. Imagine what Obama’s Nobel Prize speech—and mid-term election prospects— might resemble had he begun that process rather than jumping in to the Afghan quagmire.

We’ve been a quarter-century fighting to restore those solar panels to the White House roof. We seem to have won that one.

Given what we’ve seen of this administration, it might seem delusional to think it would seriously confront the nuke/military madness.

But we are winners as well as dreamers. And without that happening, we don’t survive.

HARVEY WASSERMAN, an early co-founder of the grassroots “No Nukes” movement, is senior adviser to Greenpeace USA, and author of ‘Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth.’ www.harveywasserman.com.

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Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

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