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Here Comes the Sun?

Here Comes the Sun?

(p.154) Ten Here Comes the Sun?
Seeing Green
Finis Dunaway
University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers media coverage of solar energy during the 1970s, especially the 1978 celebration of Sun Day. Modelled after Earth Day, Sun Day sought to emphasize the collective meanings of alternative energy. Yet this broader vision would be dismissed and even mocked in media depictions of the event. Indeed, Sun Day’s collective vision of hope did not fit with the dominant media frames applied to the alternative energy movement. While the antireactor movement could align itself with the sense of immediate crisis and fear of technological collapse popularized by The China Syndrome and Three Mile Island, alternative energy advocates could not benefit from a similarly punctuated experience of time. Lacking the spectacle of potential meltdown, the media framed solar energy in the following ways: as a benign, even laudable pursuit carried out by isolated individuals; or as an idle dream of starry-eyed protestors who did not belong in the public realm, who deserved to be ignored and cast aside by policy makers. Sun Day thus represents a forgotten moment in a longer history of environmental hope, an event misconstrued by the media as solar-power therapy rather than a serious effort to improve the nation’s energy and environmental future.

Keywords:   Sun Day, solar energy, environmental hope, media frames

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