President Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof in June of 1979, invoking both their enormous potential and the risk of irrelevance. Unfortunately, the latter appears to have been the case in the United States. The panels were removed during the Reagan administration and less than one percent of American homes have solar heated water. In contrast, China leads the world in solar technology with 250 million homes utilizing the panels.
McKibben, founder of the global warming campaign 350.org, is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College in Vermont and the author of “Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.”