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National Day of Action: We #PutSolarOnIt, You Should Too!

Insights + Opinion

Three years ago, my husband and I went solar. We were the first people in our historic town—the oldest town in West Virginia—to put solar panels on our home. It was one of the best decisions we've ever made, and it continues to have ripple effects that we never could have imagined back in the spring of 2011.

This Saturday, June 21, the Sierra Club is joining with allies around the country encouraging everyone to #PutSolarOnIt. We're turning the Summer Solstice into a national day of action to rally for more solar power, which can turn our homes, schools, churches and businesses into home-grown solutions to climate disruption. If our story is any indication, every time we #PutSolarOnIt, we're not only creating clean energy and reducing our electric bills, but we're also unlocking creative new ideas and economic opportunity, even in the most unexpected places.

After we put up our solar panels back in 2011, lots of neighbors started asking questions, and the local paper ran a front-page story about the project.  

We held an open house and so many people attended that they were spilling out our back door. Since then, a half dozen of the families who attended have gone solar, and the town planner has taken to calling our block the "solar district" of our small town.

Now, one of our historic churches in town—Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church—is working on going solar, in what would be the largest crowd-funded solar project in West Virginia history. The project is poised to create a model that could allow nonprofits across West Virginia to go solar—check out the awesome new West Virginia non-profit Solar Holler and Solar Holler's Dan Conant:

The Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church project is the first of what Conant hopes will be many projects across West Virginia that will allow nonprofits and governments to lower their electric bills by installing solar panels.

He said a number of other organizations, including libraries, schools and affordable housing groups, have approached Solar Holler asking for help.

"We wanted to make a program that was not just going to work in Shepherdstown or in other fairly well-to-do places across the state; we wanted to make a system that could work for any community, any county, and any organization in West Virginia so long as they've got community support," Conant said.

Just think—all this started when one family decided to #PutSolarOnIt. Imagine what could happen in your community! 

Join us in this push to #PutSolarOnIt! What do you want to put solar on? Imagine all the places solar could be. Share your ideas by commenting or adding your own photos on our Facebook page, and let us #PutSolarOnIt. We'll post the winning entry Saturday, June 21. Bonus points if it's funny and feasible!

Beyond June 21, connect with your local Sierra Club chapter to see how you can help get a program in your community and/or educate your neighbors about existing opportunities to get a share in community solar.

 

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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