• Promoting sustainable green energy… er, I mean…. grunt, grunt

    To all my feminist friends, please forgive me…

    Throughout the 1990s there was a rather cheesy family sitcom by the name of “Home Improvement,” in which the lead character – a father and home maintenance man by the unassuming name of Tim — grunted bellicosely whenever he got near power tools or machinery. Tim, like a lot of men in America, loved to drool and slobber over things that roared, sparked, smoked, boomed, sizzled, buzz-sawed or exploded. He’d grab a Car and Driver Magazine, unfold the centerfold, and gawk longingly at every piston and spark plug on that lusty hot rod. He was a man’s man.

    But today’s man’s man is stuck. He’s still drooling over coal and diesel fuel, even while parts of the world are rocketing ahead of him, building high-speed electric trains and “power tools” way beyond his imagination. He’s still staring, wide-eyed and open-mouthed at gas-guzzling automotive dinosaurs, while parts of Asia are developing modes of transit that put Americans’ mechanical artifacts to shame. And he’s still lusting after fumes and oil pans, even as shiny black sludge oozes along the Gulf Coast.

    Even as all this is occurring around him, the man’s man lambastes the few pioneer men and women on the front lines who are themselves grunting and drooling over the potentials of future technologies. He labels green-energy activists “hippies” and “Global Warming Theorists,” “granola-eaters,” and “Birkenstocks-wearers.”

    For energy activists’ acute attention to the energy demands of the future, the man’s man insults them down and disparages them, and insists they are out to destroy America (and everything America stands for! And puppies and rainbows too!). He attends rallies where he rants and raves against these few activists, calling them all sorts of anti-manly names, even as he wears a rather quaint little three-corner hat and sips on Boston tea.

    Irony really isn’t his strong point.

    Grunt. Grunt.

    A century ago, the innovators of energy and mechanics in this country didn’t have to deal with this shit.

    Can you imagine if Thomas Edison stamped into the patent office, presented his little glass lightbulb, and was met with the following retort:

    “Get outta here ya dirty hippie! Oil and fire are a real man’s way of lighting a home!”

    Or if Henry Ford was showing his buddies the inner-workings of his factory, and a group of them laughed at him for abandoning the mighty and powerful Clydesdale.

    A man’s man should embrace the technology of the future. He should lust after it, drool, slobber, dote, gawk and grunt.

    He should spot a field of gleaming solar panels soaking in the southwestern sun and transmitting this energy in nanoseconds across the most powerful grid in American history and fall in pure unadulterated love. The metallic silicon plates stealing energy from the sun, conquering the most powerful star in our universe; this should appeal to the inner-workings of the man’s man’s heart. He should want to set his oversized recliner right smack dab in the middle of this beaming field of technology and hook his 52” plasma up to the network of pure power and watch linebackers crush quarterbacks all Sunday afternoon.

    He should see a high-speed railway hurling down the state and wet his pants with excitement. When the railroad cars blast past the interstate at record speeds, a shiver should traverse his spinal cord.

    If he drives past a mass of towering wind turbines, he should stare up in amazement, his mind dazzled by these sheer giants of industry, all cycling with potent ferocity.

    But instead, the man’s man puts down these titans of tomorrow, and insists they are only for those less manly than he. Forgetting the American legends of the early 20th century, he labels these alternatives “impractical,” “foolish,” and (for some reason worst of all) “green.”

    And he grabs a beer, goes out to his garage, turns on the news, sees something about the BP oil spill…

    …and he grunts.

    • While I can appreciate trying to appeal to the man’s man when approaching improving our country’s energy economy, part of me thinks it’s a pointless endeavor. The reality is that we are on the back end of peak oil, and we already use far more energy than we can sustainably produce. Energy consumption simply needs to drop. While my company, and a lot like us are working to make energy efficiency easier to swallow (and even more comfortable) for everyday Americans, the public commentary seems to be focusing on wind and solar as the answer to ALL of our problems. Even if we blanketed the entire Nevada desert with solar panels and put up a wind-mill everywhere in the country where wind blows, we’ll never meet this country’s energy demands on renewable power alone if consumption is not limited. Subsequently, I would argue that the man’s man desire for more power, more energy, more, more, more… is an antiquated viewpoint which will take care of itself as energy becomes more expensive. I don’t think we need to try to sell these people on renewable energy, I think the need, and the changing world will sell this for us.

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