Amid the increasingly contentious discussion about American environmental policy in the face of climate change concerns, over 300,000 Americans marched through Manhattan to protest what they believe to be an insufficient response to the growing issues surrounding the climate by the federal and state governments.
Political lethargy irks protesters
While the protesters had several different demands, they all essentially coalesced around the idea that the United States government needs to care more about these pressing issues facing the environment. According to Newsweek, marchers demanded that the government needs to take the future of the planet seriously – our survival depends on it.
In particular, the protesters lodged complaints about the way we generate our power. Despite the impressive gains made in the proliferation of renewable sources of energy, much of our electricity is still generated by dirty, non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas. Natural gas, specifically fracking, drew considerable ire from the protesters who felt that greed from large oil companies are hamstringing efforts to reduce our dependence on unclean power generation.
Demands for clean energy, like solar, wind and geothermal rang loud through the streets. While the march has certainly gathered a great amount of attention and raised awareness about climate issues, the demonstrations will be for nothing if substantial changes aren't made by the American people.
Homeowners who go solar have already spoken
You don't have to march to make a difference. Homeowners and businesses who have invested in residential and commercial solar are proving that the real change will start with them. By demanding more access to renewable power generation, Americans are in effect voting for change in the most efficient way: with their wallets.
By eschewing coal and nuclear power, as well as the false promises of cleaner energy through the burning of natural gas, Americans are taking the process into their own hands. They are finding that they can have a positive impact on the environment and save money by protecting themselves from the wild price swings of coal and natural gas.
While the Solar Energy Industries Association has shown that public policy has played an integral role in the top solar installing states, intense lobbying by oil and gas companies as well as utilities can threaten the still-developing clean energy incentive programs on which consumers rely to make solar for the home an option. It will be up to consumers to keep voting at the ballot box, and more importantly with their wallets, if more progress is to be made.