Seize the Power This Earth Day
By Mark Ruffalo
It’s Earth Day’s 45th birthday, and this little holiday is all grown up. Caring for the planet and making sure we leave it in good shape for our children has moved from a fringe concern for a few to a mainstream interest for most, from big corporations to small-town families, from cities to farms, and from churches to schools to governments.
As we look toward Earth Day’s next 45 years, one of the most exciting developments is the spread of clean, renewable energy in communities and cities across 100 percent of America. It is the best solution to many of our air pollution problems, and an essential element in our efforts to curb climate change.
But beyond that, homegrown renewable energy that can never run out is doing so much more for all of us. Every day, Americans are choosing clean energy because of the wide range of additional benefits it delivers, from easing pressure on family bank accounts, to growing the economy, to boosting national security. Almost everywhere you look, there are inspiring examples of action worth spotlighting and celebrating.
Iowa and South Dakota are now generating more than a quarter of their energy from wind power. For communities in both states, that means less money sent elsewhere to buy coal to fuel power plants, and more money kept circulating in the local economy, more jobs in the wind-energy sector, and healthier air to breathe.
Companies are finding renewable energy makes business sense. General Motors uses landfill gas to power factories in Michigan and Indiana and has announced its first wind energy project, while its dealerships offer solar-powered charging canopies for electric cars. Apple has agreed to buy $850 million in solar power, which is enough energy to keep its California stores, offices, headquarters and a data center humming along. Across the country, Wal-Mart stores are home to 250 solar energy systems and 42 fuel cell installations, and a wind turbine powers a California distribution center.
The military is embracing renewable energy as a national security imperative, since cutting dependence on oil boosts mobility and readiness while loosening ties to autocratic regimes that don’t always have America’s best interests at heart. Solar arrays power installations from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to Parris Island in South Carolina. Marines have tested portable solar panels for battlefield use. Every branch of the armed forces has set ambitious energy efficiency targets and renewable fuel and energy goals.
Every day, in neighborhoods from California to Colorado to Florida, community solar farms are helping families save money and breathe better air as they run their homes using clean energy. And from a synagogue in Massachusetts to an evangelical church in Minnesota to a Mormon meetinghouse in Utah, communities of faith are putting their desire to care for creation into action by installing renewable energy facilities.
As countless of examples like these show, renewable energy — like environmental awareness more generally — has long ago morphed from a fringe consideration to an everyday reality that is visible almost everywhere you turn.
People across the country taking action, and finding that embracing clean, renewable energy makes life better — healthier, more prosperous, and more secure — for us all. That’s a great reason for 100 percent of America to celebrate this Earth Day. But don’t just end the day with a cheer, join the transition by finding the right clean energy solutions for your household. Check out providers like Ethical Electric, Solar City, and Energy Sage or ask your utility provider about its clean energy program — and if they don’t have one, when it’s coming!
Oscar-nominated actor and father Mark Ruffalo serves on the board of The Solutions Project, whose mission is to accelerate the transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy for all people and purposes.