How to be an activist in the era of slacktivists


In order to have any chance at meeting our climate goals, policymakers have to take a stand.

It may feel daunting to try to take action on an issue as broad and challenging as climate change, but your voice makes a difference. If you don't take action, who will? If not now, when?

Here are some of the best ways to take action:

1) Electing local officials who will take action against climate change
Make sure you know you’re electing an official who aligns with your own values. There are many online databases with records of how officials voted. One example is Ballotpedia - a nonpartisan online political encyclopedia covering federal, state, and local politics. You can easily look up your local officials and how they voted on past bills to get a better understanding of whether they support taking action on climate.

2) Donating to organizations dedicated to helping our planet such as:
Environmental advocacy groups are effective at mobilizing activists, scientists, and lawyers. The best organizations use research to push a policy agenda, or file lawsuits against polluters through the court system.

  • EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) “works with other organizations, businesses, government, and communities to create incentives for positive environmental actions; help companies become better environmental stewards; influence policy; and keep tabs on emerging issues.” Donate

  • NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) “combines the power of more than two million members and online activists with the expertise of some 500 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.” Donate

  • The Nature Conservancy protects ecologically important lands and waters around the world with the help of more than 500 staff scientists Donate

3) Organizing groups for protests and engaging in lobbying
One of the best organizations for bringing climate issues to the forefront of conversation within government is the Citizens Climate Lobby which “organizes by establishing local chapters in congressional districts. Working as a team you’ll experience the profound difference people can make by empowering and inspiring their elected representatives, local media, and community.”

4) Calling your local representatives on climate issues
Not sure who that is?
Quickly find your congressional district members here by entering your zip code.
Not sure which issue to call about?
Tools such as 5calls and StandUp (environmental issues coming soon!) help you consistently make calls and give advice on what to say if this is all new to you. These resources are great for scheduling specific time to get involved that might otherwise be forgotten.

To be clear, the problem with slacktivism isn't social media. The problem is the action taken after the fact of engaging in social media or talking about the issues. Spreading awareness is great, but taking action makes a difference.

Real change demands real action.

A letter to Donald Trump as he decides on the Paris climate accord

Dear Mr. Trump,


You ran for president on a campaign to “Make America Great Again.” But withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change, which was signed by 194 out of 196 nations around the world, will not make America great – it will make China the world leader on climate.

Renewable energy will power the world’s future, and China is winning the race for renewable energy. China already manufactures 2/3 of the world’s solar panels, and has installed a total of 77 GW of solar – nearly double the amount of solar the US has installed. While you sign executive orders to block the Clean Power Plan and bring back coal, China’s President Xi pledged to invest $360 billion in renewable energy through 2020, creating 13 million new jobs.


Fossil fuels are not the future, and Americans know that. 2/3 of Americans support expanding renewable energy over fossil fuels. Coal will not be the employer of the future either; in 2017, the US coal industry employed 160,119 people, while the US solar industry employed 373,807.

In my work in Asia and Africa, I increasingly see China exerting its influence; the largest solar energy plant in Ghana was installed by a Chinese company, and local Ghanaian solar companies look to China for equipment and financing. A Chinese firm, using government financing, will build one of the largest solar plants in Nigeria worth nearly $500 million.

Since World War II, countries around the world have looked to America for leadership; people want to work with American companies and use American innovations. America earned world respect for helping to broker the Paris agreement. If we withdraw, China WILL become the world leader on climate – President Xi is already grabbing headlines for being the one urging you to stay in the “hard won” Paris climate deal.

So please, let’s stay in the Paris agreement, and go one step further by making America a world leader on climate.

Andy Moon, SunFarmer

Farmers in Chitwan Grow More With Solar

Farmers can dramatically increase output when they have irrigation. But without electricity, they are unable to pump sufficient quantities of water.

Last quarter, SunFarmer constructed 7 agriculture projects in Chitwan, Nepal in partnership with Winrock International and Silver Spring Networks.

Solar water pumps are cheaper than diesel pumps and less labor-intensive than hand pumps. SunFarmer has solar-powered water services for:

  • Livestock: Cows and Pigs
  • Fish: 3 Ponds
  • Vegetable Crops: Corn, Rice, Potatoes, Gourds, Cabbage

Government Subsidies for Solar in Nepal

SunFarmer pioneered the Power Purchasing Agreement for solar in Nepal. Our customers pay for high-quality solar systems in quarterly installments and our engineers provide continued maintenance and support.

Now the pay-as-you-go model for solar is spreading. The Nepali government is working with 7 local banks to make solar affordable with low-interest loans. There are two types of subsidies:

  • Commercial projects (greater than 1.5 kW) = subsidy interest rates of 4.5%
  • Residential projects (smaller than 1.5 kW) = subsidy interest rates of 2.5%

With the high-upfront cost of solar broken into affordable payments, solar technology is more accessible than ever.

The Andrew J. Wild Institute Goes Solar

The Andrew J. Wild Institute is one of the oldest A-Level colleges in Nepal. They offer the rigorous Cambridge International Examinations to prepare students for higher education.

The problem: Constant Load Shedding

AJW wanted to expand to offer Bachelors and Masters degrees, but with constant load shedding, it didn't make sense to invest in the computer labs and other equipment they would need.

Solar is the solution

SunFarmer helped AJW go solar. With an 18kW solar energy system, they can now power all the equipment they need to expand, without fear of load shedding.

SunFarmer Technology

We built this system with specialized electronics, designed to improve energy production by coordinating solar with other energy sources, and reducing transmission losses.

Best of all, the Institute has by-passed diesel generators and the reliance on dirty and expensive fuel. The next time a fuel shortage strikes, AJW students will continue studying right through it.

Looking Back: SunFarmer's 2015 Annual Report

We're proud to present our 2015 Annual Report.

Thanks to your continued support, we were able to lay the groundwork for new projects amidst a chaotic year. 

Photo credit: © Kristin Lau

Photo credit: © Kristin Lau

In April, two devastating earthquakes struck Nepal, our primary country of operation. We immediately shifted our focus to doing what we could to help. Crisis struck Nepal again in August − political conflicts on the border of Nepal and India led to a complete economic blockade. As a result, we were only able to complete one solar energy installation in the fourth quarter of 2015.

However, the installation was our first project with our solar-powered irrigation model, whereby farmers pay for solar-powered irrigation in affordable monthly installments. The installation was the result of months of research and design, and we believe it will be the blueprint for many future projects. 

SunFarmer continues to push innovation through our work – we completed designs for one of the largest solar energy projects in Nepal, a 100 kW at Bayalpata Hospital. We built prototypes of our remote monitoring technology and are currently testing it. In addition, we continue to find unique ways to make solar affordable for our customers through financing solutions.

Photo credit: © Kristin Lau

Photo credit: © Kristin Lau

We believe 2016 will be a very exciting year for SunFarmer – we are grateful for your support and look forward to sharing our accomplishments with you this year! 

Powering Agriculture with Solar

SunFarmer recently completed a 750 W solar water pumping system for 3 female farmers in Chitwan, Nepal. With irrigation for their vegetable crops and fish farms, the families expect to increase their income 100% in 3 years.

The problem: No power for irrigation

Most farmers do not have electricity. As a result, they are unable to power water pumps to irrigate corps, particularly high value vegetables, for the 8 to 9 months of the year when there is no rain.

Diesel fuel powers irrigation, but it is dirty and expensive

Some farmers use diesel generators to power water pumps. But diesel fuel is expensive and fuel deliveries are unreliable in rural areas. Solar is cheaper in the long run, but the upfront cost is often too high. 

Solar water pumps are clean and cost effective.

SunFarmer's irrigation model allows farmers to pay for solar energy in affordable monthly installments. Solar doesn't require outside fuel sources and farmer can up to double their income.

Photo credit: © Kristin Lau

Photo credit: © Kristin Lau

A Walk To Kirtipur

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I have been fortunate to meet a fantastic group of people here in Kathmandu.  Regular dinners, brunches, performances and adventures have kept my social life buzzing.  One particular adventure is notable as it was my first, and only trip outside of Kathmandu thus far.  After enjoying our panini sandwiches at Yellow House, a favorite brunch spot due to it’s central location, yet not so much for the service, we discussed plans for the afternoon.  I had little to contribute to the idea pool, and sat quietly until the plan was decided and I could say “Yep, I’m in for that” regardless of what it was.  The decision was made: we would take a walk to Kirtipur.  

The small village of Kirtipur sits on the South-West corner of Kathmandu, nestled up on a hill overlooking the far reaching capital city.  7 of us set out for our day with limited knowledge of what to expect, but confident that we would have a great day.  The trek started out like any other walk through Kathmandu.  Through constant horn honking and dog barking we carefully navigated down and across streets, alleyways and dirt paths to reach the Bagmati River.  Crossing the river and turning South we officially had left Kathmandu city limits.  After another 10 minutes of walking the shops and concrete structures began to thin until we were finally greeted by open green landscape.  

Our walk continued past fields of various Nepalese crops and straggling cows.  Odd looking tractors passed by, appearing more like lawn mowers attached to horse wagons.  As we began to approach the town we noticed an unexpected feature, a ferris wheel.  It was a surreal site, especially with the hillside town in the background and accompanying rudimentary festival rides.  We found ourselves asking “Are these rides functional?”  This question was never answered.

We reached the town of Kirtipur and began to scale the city, as talks of a “Lookout Restaurant” transitioned from idea to plan.  Although many shops and city features were identical to Kathmandu it was apparent that the lifestyle was more relaxed.  The streets seemed wider, with people in much less off a hurry.  We stopped at a temple which opened at the back of the property to an amazing view of the entire Kathmandu valley.  Continuing on past friendly people, odd looking birds and a curious amount of street dogs we climbed to our final destination.  The Viewpoint Restaurant did not disappoint.

With 360 degree views, a beautiful temple capping the peak, hot momo’s to eat, cold beverages to drink and great company, I was in heaven.  Our trek could not have ended more perfectly.  We took our fill of food, drink, scenery and stories as the sun set in the distance.  My walk to Kirtipur will not be forgotten.

Waking up in Kathmandu

As the city awoke my first morning in Kathmandu I was serenaded by the sounds of barking dogs, motorbikes and loud men on bikes assumingly trying to sell things.  Any negative feelings this caused were immediately washed away as I sat up and saw the city for the first time.

It was nearly sensory overload as I gazed upon the seemingly infinite buildings and trees, all uniquely colored and shaped.  I smiled, snapped a photo and whispered “this will do.”  Ivan and I cooked up eggs, oats and strong black coffee for breakfast.  He explained that we need to be very frugal with our natural gas use due to the fuel shortage.  Once our tank runs dry there would likely not be an option for refueling.  My eyebrows lifted as I said “Wow.  Ok then…” and we set off to the rooftop to enjoy our morning meal with a view.

We walked to the office, navigating what seemed to be the most complex maze of streets, alleys and dirt roads to reach the SunFarmer office.  Here, nestled on an unassuming road stood a beautiful home surrounded by gardens and greenery.  Inside I met my new workmates including Avishek, Marco, Kushal and Swikriti.  I set up my station in what will become my office for the next 7 weeks and got rolling.