“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” At least that’s what the conventional wisdom seems to be. And I’d have to admit, that having gone back to school to study Renewable Energy Technology at 49 years old, it hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world to have learned some of these new tricks that my instructors have been trying to beat into my head!
The truth of the matter is that it is indeed possible to teach that old dog a new trick or two, not easy, but possible.
I got to thinking about this concept this morning as I was driving up the hill to school. I was listening to NPR and they were talking about the oil companies experiencing record profits in the face of the major recession that we’re going through right now.
The segment made me think that people must be like the proverbial “old dog” in that it’s just tough to change what you’ve been doing for so long. Otherwise, why can’t people see that the old fossil fuel based economic paradigm simply isn’t sustainable and that the sooner we start making the change in earnest to renewables, the better off we’ll all be.
Then it dawned on me. Here “I” was “driving” up the hill in my Ford F150 4X4 berating people for not adopting renewable energy. What a hypocrite!
Then I thought about it some more and realized that part of the difficulty in teaching the old dog is the fact that you have to overcome the fact that people (and societies) are already invested in their established infrastructure. That is, the puppy hasn’t already went out and spent the money to buy that Ford F150 4X4, so maybe he/she is more likely to be open to the idea of buying an electric car or putting solar panels on their roof.
This is one of the reasons that 3rd world countries have been so quick to adopt cellular phone technology, they hadn’t already built an extensive land line based phone system.
Here in the US and in other industrialized countries, we’ve got to overcome the inertia of already having such a well established energy infrastructure.
Free Market Economists, which I actually kind of consider myself to be one of, will tell you that if renewable energy is truly a better, more efficient way that the free market will adopt it. Which is a true statement. The only problem is that just like I’m not going to sell my Ford and buy a Tesla anytime soon, society isn’t going to dump it’s current energy infrastructure and adopt a new one until it makes economic sense to do so.
Which is where leadership comes into play. If we wait until renewable energy can stand on it’s own economically, we’re going to be in a world of hurt! At this point in the game, the only way that we’re going to avoid this “hurt” is by our leaders looking beyond the next campaign contribution. The only way that we’re going to get our leaders to look beyond their own economic self interest is by making it be in their “political” self interests.
How do we do this? By being LOUD! By participating in the political system and making our opinions known. Write your congressman or better yet, run for Congress! If not congress, run for the school board or other local office. At very least, be willing to stand up and defend what you believe in.
When you hear somebody say something about “The Evil Energy Taxes” that are going to cost the average American Family something like $1,200.00 per year, point out to them that the current system ends up costing us much more than that and will end up costing us a considerable amount more the longer that we wait.
Bob “Free As The Wind” Mitchell
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