Standing Strong Against the Backlash

Mother said there would be days like these.

Using every argument they can muster, oil-fed politicians  are trying to reverse the move toward renewable energy, even in the face of skyrocketing oil prices.

Please, don’t look at that Gulf of Mexico oil well being drilled while the environment remains soiled by last year’s disaster. Don’t even contemplate the shakiness of Arabia’s House of Saud. (The illustration, by the way, is of graffiti in the Republic of Georgia, although the sentiment applies everywhere, even my home in Georgia, USA.)

Instead let’s concentrate on how those nasty wind mills and solar panels spoil the view or make noises.

The best weapon oil has in this fight is its argument against government, which must subsidize renewable development until solar and wind projects can financially stand on their own (at which point it’s game over).

One way forward is to simply renege on past commitments, blaming budget problems. This makes citizens leery of investing in their own energy (good) and distrustful of government generally (even better). If you can turn a local utility that once supported renewable energy into an opponent government can support “private enterprise.”

But there are other weapons. How about getting an “economist,”  whose employer has been funded by the oil industry for over 100 years, to deny there is any economic benefit to alternative energy at all, that you’re just swapping one job for another?

In the short run it may be the NIMBY  arguments that are doing best. Whether a green project is in a residential neighborhood or out in the desert, simply find some affected group to file a lawsuit or support a bill that gives opponents a veto over the project. If the feds have approved it, do it through the state. If the state, do it locally.

Just do it.

Look. No one should pretend that an enormous industry with 9 million jobs is going to roll over just because it’s unsustainable, destroying the planet or corrupting the political system. They’ll call those features, not bugs.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of argument we use against people who are paid to shill for Big Oil. Whether we’re talking about the environment, jobs, or national security, people who are paid to keep you from doing things are going to defend their jobs and do them.

This is not an election time. This is a policy time. But politically it is a good time for taking names, for observing who is on our side, who is against us, and who is squishy. We have public opinion on our side. People understand that harvesting energy advances civilization more than burning things. They support energy harvesting.

On days like this we just have to keep that in mind, keep fighting, and know that in a democracy there’s always another election. And whatever some politicians may say to us then about how they love us, it’s their actions now that should determine their fate.

So how do you stand strong against the backlash?



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Dana Blankenhorn has covered business and technology since 1978. He covered the Houston oil boom of the 1970s, began making his living online in 1985, and launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of e-commerce, in 1994. He has written for a host of off-line and online publications including The Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and ZDNet. He has covered PCs, networks, telecommunications, cable technology, Internet commerce, the Internet of Things, Open Source and Health IT, He began covering alternative energy at his personal blog,, in 2007.

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