My children’s children, and their solar-powered homes

“No lights on during the day!” I yell.

“Does that truck get 8 miles a gallon, or what!?” I badger.

I often give my father, a smart, progressive man in his late 40s, a difficult time when I go to visit. I brag about my $15-a-month electric bill and leave him notes about fixing broken sprinklers. He is generally annoyed.

This morning he e-mailed me a link to this NPR story. The story explains a U.S. Department of Energy event going on this week, in which colleges and universities competed to design, build and operate “the most attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered house.” Team California, a mesh of students from Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts, won with its “Refract House,” designed to take advantage of the California sun.

So here’s a little ray of sunshine: for every Starbucks cup and cigarette butt scattered on the side of the freeway, maybe one person is deciding to hang up clean laundry on a clothesline instead of throwing it in the dryer. For every dozen over-watered lawns, maybe one family is deciding how to replace their yard with indigenous landscaping. A British lawyer recently risked his life and swam at the North Pole to draw media attention to climate change.

Change is coming, and younger generations are more tuned-in about the environment. Even young Evangelical Christians, whose parents are likely climate change doubters, are becoming environmental activists. Hopefully, these changes will start happening faster.

Dad closed his e-mail with a note: “Have hope for your grandchildren’s generation.”

He didn’t mention his electric bill.

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