Despite all of the fireworks, BBQs and parades to the contrary, this weekend I want to celebrate dependence. The America that existed on July 4, 1776 when our founding fathers declared independence from Great Britain is a far cry from the interconnected and interdependent society in which we currently reside.
We know from the abundance of Chinese animé in Chicago, Bollywood movie theaters in California and Mexican soap operas in Kansas that our country is culturally connected to the rest of the world. The economic crisis that began in 2008 taught us that risky mortgage-backed securities and speculative real estate bubbles could have lasting repercussions from Iceland to Indiana. The rise of social media technologies such as Facebook and Skype have connected us to people across the world in ways we never had imagined possible. Even rural villages without electricity are rapidly becoming connected through the dissemination of mobile phones and solar technologies to power them. New companies like ZipCar and Netflicks have taught us that when we connect and share resources with other people, we can lower the price and increase the value for everyone involved.
Our cultural, economic, technological and material connections are easily recognizable and often celebrated. But what about our climatic connections? It’s no longer debatable that our world is getting warmer and that our reliance on fossil fuels is largely responsible. As Americans, we take a lion’s share of that responsibility since we comprise less than 5% of the global population but 25% of the world’s ghg emissions.
So, in this interconnected world where we can Skype a friend in rural Niger who is watching children around him die of malnutrition since the rains once again failed to come, what do we do?
Well, a lot of things. One thing that I’m particularly excited about is the prospect of working together with my community to collectively fund solar projects on community centers or places of worship. I’ve recently started working with Solar Mosaic, a marketplace that anyone can use to create solar projects and finance them from their communities, locally and online. Whereas independent attempts to go solar are often only accessible to the wealthy and within that demographic, only those with the proper space for the project, Solar Mosaic is democratizing clean energy development by recognizing that just as the electricity grid connects different energy types, we can connect different people in order to make a thriving and sustainable future truly possible.
How about a round of cheers for dependence day?