Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy-and Our Planet-from Dirty Energy

Image of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy#and Our Planet#from Dirty Energy
Release Date: 
September 3, 2012
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
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“The target is dirty energy. The cause is freedom, economic opportunity, and environmental responsibility. Danny Kennedy calls to you to join the Rooftop Revolution.”

Place competition, military initiatives, jobs, cost of living, individual self sufficiency vs. dependency on powerful corporations—all are influenced by and linked to the source of energy.

Arguing for a Rooftop Revolution, Danny Kennedy makes the case for How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy—and Our Planet—from Dirty Energy. The respected Barrett-Kohler, long associated with cause advocacy publishing concerning social and economic justice, proclaims that the subject of this book is “The biggest untold economic story of our time.”

The case for solar energy, what the author labels Energy 101, involves cutting out the middleman of fossil fuels to facilitate the more direct, less intrusive, less costly delivery of energy, for “We already get our energy from the sun—we just do it in the most laughably inefficient way imaginable.” In short, fossil fuels—that is: coal, oil, and natural gas—are the sun’s energy, stored in the form of 200 million year old plants and extracted today by dangerous, costly, environmentally destructive methods.

“Solar power, by contrast, comes directly from the source. There are no mines and no rigs—a solar panel just sits in the sun, takes in sunlight, and turns that light into electricity right at the point of use. There’s no costly and unsightly transportation, no danger of explosion or mine collapse, no mountaintop removal, no Fukushima or Deepwater Horizon, and no killing required. Just clean, cheap energy.”

This book is concurrently a solar energy primer, a polemical call to arms in the spirit of revolution: the dark force to be overcome is labeled “King CONG”—”the four-headed monster of coal, oil, nukes, and gas,” and a long form sales letter promoting the business of Sungevity, Inc. of which the author is cofounder and president.

An especially effective resource is the notes section, presented in the form of primary statements, supported by sources, which format serves as a crisp summary of the argument.

Compared to the energy extraction practices that evolved first to fuel the Industrial Revolution and subsequently to drive the labor saving machines, building operation, and transportation systems of the contemporary economy, solar energy manifests what futurist Arthur Clarke proclaimed: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Solar energy along with wind farming involves capturing and redeploying nature’s very power in ways that transform the economy. Just as revolutionary information systems innovation automation has brought powerful business processes to individual entrepreneurs and small enterprises, thereby enabling performance at levels heretofore possible only through massive corporate scale, and the making revolution promises parallel transformative impacts for manufacturing, so, too, does direct nature sourced energy provide economy, direct access, and personal control.

After an opening energy primer, the book tours the politics of energy, involving “an epic struggle for the head and heart of America. And the fat cats in Dirty Energy who feed off our addiction to fossil fuels have an obvious motivation—profits—to keep us in denial about our bad habit. They don’t want us to dwell on our energy addiction and the damage it does to ourselves, our planet, and our children’s future.”

The chapter subtitles summarize the argument: the battle for America’s head and heart; the public demand for clean, local energy; a perversion of power; poised for progress; why solar will win.

The anti-solar case is, “Solar schmolar says ol’ KING CONG—just leave well enough alone. Pay a small fee when you move into a new house and we’re ready to serve. Just flip a switch, twist a knob, or press a button, and—viola— your beer is cold, your shower is hot, and your TV casts its warm glow onto your grateful faces. We’ll take care of your energy needs and your energy future . . . Why change? Why even consider that solar mumbo jumbo? It’s impractical, unreliable, unviable, inefficient, unaffordable, and overly subsidized. Plus those solar panels on your roofs would be downright ugly.”

After addressing each of these objections, the author explores the “Hot Jobs” benefits of solar, pointing out that clean energy employ almost as many as the KING CONG companies.

Even as the price per kilowatt hour is going down, clean energy jobs are increasing, while Dirty Energy jobs are decreasing “because renewable-energy systems are more job-dense than their fossil-fuel equivalents by a significant factor.” Many of these jobs are “smart jobs” that “blur the line between traditional blue-collar and white-collar work.”

Danny Kennedy wraps up his argument with “10 key reasons why I believe we’re about to get our time in the sun”: 1. price; 2. jobs; 3. Speed; solar has 40% compound growth rate; 4. scalability, because of Lego-like technology; 5. access, “solar power is now easy and affordable for so many people; 6. value; 7. climate, “Combined with wind and energy efficiencies, solar is our best fix for climate change”; 8. popularity, “There’s a domino effect statistically evident in neighborhoods where homes have already gone solar”; 9. defense, safe, ubiquitous supply of sunlight...can reduce the “need” for a global military reach due to reduced dependence on imported fuel”; 10. evolution, “Solar-powered adoption represents a new stage in the evolutionary ascent of humanity . . . a more sustainable solar-powered civilization.”

Applying skills honed as an activist and evangelist for climate and energy issues for more than two decades, Danny Kennedy effectively distills a complex, highly controversial subject into an accessible, clear yet authoritative presentation.
Rooftop Revolution is in the tradition of Thomas Paine’s pamphleteering arguing for independence from Great Britain.

The target is dirty energy. The cause is freedom, economic opportunity, and environmental responsibility. Danny Kennedy calls to you to join the Rooftop Revolution.