I was recently sent a slick piece of fossil-fuel-propaganda that mostly contained half-truths with the purpose of telling a lie. If nothing else, it does make one listen to arguments on possible needed limits to free speech. However, limiting access for venues of speech is a slippery slope, but so is damaging the public with untruths. Ultimately, one must answer the question: "Is it OK to tell lies for financial gain that harm the public"?
The solar hit-piece's main emphasis was on the fact that solar power is not generated at night. This is obviously true. But it implies that solar power has limited value. It does mention a need for cost effective storage in one brief sentence. Again true. But the purpose of this piece was to imply that solar has little value. That's "The Big Lie" here. And these propagandists know that all they need to do, to convince many people, is have the money to tell that lie often enough.
The truth is in many locations, individual homeowner solar installations are cost effective even with available conventional solar panels. But that is not the end of the story. The future of flexible solar installations using paints and film is close at hand. This will revolutionize urban applications and transportation as buildings are retrofitted and vehicles carry some energy-generation with them.
The development of "battery" or "storage" technology is in its infancy yet the cost of energy storage is already falling fast. In some cases, all one needs to do is step out of the box for solutions such as turning the Hoover Dam into a giant battery.
Fossil fuel companies understand that all that has to be done is to give consumers enough incentive to conserve energy and it's all over for fossil fuels as their balance sheets and stock prices will severely suffer. They know this, therefore their frantic push to confuse the public on global warming.
The fossil fuel conglomerates are frightened to death of a real carbon tax for they know they have been allowed by society to dump their waste from energy production without cost. Even Exxon recently agreed to give a small donation for a carbon tax implementation if they would be held harmless for past propaganda sins. They know it's coming at them like a derailed freight train.
While fossil fuels may have benefited consumers for many decades, we have exceeded the cost benefit of dumping its waste. But just because it no longer makes economic sense, we should not ignore the morality of knowingly harming other people's health.
Many of these pro-fossil fuel propaganda groups are using the same tactics and personnel as the cigarette companies did to fight anti-smoking legislation. A valid economic fear is that these groups and power companies will delay the implementation of a responsible and effective renewable energy policy until governments will be forced to install less-than-cost-effective means to solve the obvious problem.
A look at Mauna Loa CO2 measurements and levels seem to be accelerating rather than the needed deceleration. Most experts make the case that we are making scant progress for staying under 1.5C and 2C temperature rise. Many are predicting 3-5C.
One of the most dire predictions I have read is temperature rise to +10C by 2026 based on a polynomial curve. This is not likely, but we need to deal in more than mere hope. If this prediction was correct, we have basically two choices: head for points north or grab our ankles. Is a 10C rise impossible? It is not, as we've underestimated climate change all along and it seems every weather event has a potential warming influence these days.
Most recently, hurricane Michael exploded in intensity fueled by ever increasing warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. Sadly, it struck the "Redneck Riviera" that is heavily populated with Trumpsters and people influenced by intentionally-deceiving propaganda.
The hurricane's ground zero and path were populated with folks least able to get out of the way. Many have limited healthcare due to a Medicaid Expansion-denying Republican Governor whose company was fined $1.7 billion for defrauding Medicare. Talk about double damaging common folks.
The US is deeply divided. When polled about a family member marrying a member of the other party, Republicans and Democrats are no longer divided. 60% of both parties are not in favor of a marriage between the two political parties. This division is primarily the result of modern Republican "win at all cost" "take no prisoners" "dirty and dishonest" tactics introduced by Lee Atwater in the 1980s and honed to perfection by others in the 1990s. Newt Gingrich, as Speaker of the House, ushered in the modern era that lacks bipartisanship.
Trump and Atwater
The result of the division is the Trump Administration. Trump promised his followers to drain the Washington swamp. Instead he transferred the swamp to the government. It is an administration that is conning those who have over a century of mistrust and hatred of the Federal government.
One way to look at this attitude is that this is what is left of the old Confederated States Of America. For many, the South is a land of Confederate battle flags and "the South will rise again" rebel yells. It is a land dominated by the less fortunate willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of the plantation owner remnants. It is a scam as old as the country. It is a land where bigoted Democratic party members migrated to the modern Republican party after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 by LBJ.
My Southern homeland has a power base that is maintained by stoking hatred of "coloreds", false promises of upward mobility, and a fake sense of jingoistic superiority. It is a population whose life expectancy drops sharply outside of any metropolitan area. It is a people unwilling to face reality and willing to follow any authoritarian leader selling any pig in a poke. It is a land of constitutional irregularities that is dominated by the empty promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Given the new realizations of climate change and its dire possibilities, are we living the "storm before the storm"? Can we restore our democracy and blunt the weather's new force? Yes we can. But it will not be possible in time by the use of violent demonstrations or even civil disobedience. It must be simply accomplished at the ballot box, now and not later. Because the consequences of not taking action are catastrophic, time is not on humanity's side.
Robert Jennings is co-publisher of InnerSelf.com with his wife Marie T Russell. InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as InnerSelf.com. Please support our work.
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