Marketing clean energy: State of the Union (“let’s start right away”)

President Obama & solarPresident Obama’s State of the Union address last night probably contained the most clean energy content in recent years… or ever. And like any SOTU address, the bold statements, and sometimes platitudes, often result in bills getting shot down by the other party or many shoulders shrugged. The President glossed over things. Things like water security, which works very much in line with energy security, and is still an invisible problem. And things like emissions. Why does global warming occur in it’s human-caused state? Deforestation? Meat production and agriculture? Auto emissions? What are the most offensive causes? And do Americans care? Obama did make an urgent argument and presented some acts. It’s a start…

President Obama: Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.

Marketing this idea to the American public is a hard sell these days. But in the wake of superstorms, drought, and widespread wild fires, the time to target us is now. People want to know where their money is going, how it gets there, and what they can get back. It’s all about the bottom line in this country. So, will investment in American energy — clean energy (while divesting from dirty fossil fuels) – bring jobs and wealth? Yes it will.

President Obama: After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar — with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before — and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.

This can make your head explode because he lauds oil, natural gas, wind, and solar in the same breath. Does oil have its uses? Of course… it runs the goddamn world. But Obama’s uttering these words to pave the way for us to replace oil. Does natural gas work? Yes, but not without contaminating water and causing earthquakes and explosions in some communities. The speechwriter had that in his head. It was lurking. And our cars can go even farther on a gallon of gas if we remove the oil lobby from Washington and ramp up alternative fuels like we should have done 100 years ago. The keys here are wind and solar. More production in wind and solar = more jobs, more wealth, and more secure energy.

President Obama: But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.

Is it too late? In so many words, Bill McKibben says yes. But “choos[ing] to believe” is sort of a thankless task. And the American consumer gets inundated with marketing messages mostly paid for by the oil lobby or oil-influenced businesses, corporations, and politicians. And politicians don’t have science backgrounds or training. SCIENTISTS do. Scientists aren’t in it to get rich and powerful, like the news pundits and politicians. They present the data, the facts, the surveys, the studies. We should choose to believe the facts. Because they are facts. Because they are true.

President Obama: The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

The money shot: the MARKET-based solution. Consumers need to KNOW. They need to know more about our failing energy infrastructure and the benefits of a clean energy industrial revolution. Like MONEY. And JOBS! And WEALTH! The consumer will be more than willing to vote on such propositions. The President’s statements are the boldest leadership statements ever made on these issues in a SOTU address. Will the politicians deny the oil lobby? Will they put their children’s future as top priority. And the human race’s?

President Obama: Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year — so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we. In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.

So here’s the yin and the yang. Obama lays out the facts: wind is booming and providing more energy and solar is getting cheaper. Most people don’t think about these things in their daily lives. Someone buys a new house, gets the gas and electric signed over to them, and rather than replacing their home’s antiquated energy system with solar, spends all of their money on a new car and home theater. This must be more a part of our money-saving conversations. And I think it’s happening. Unfortunately, the President speaks here as if he’s all in on drilling and fracking. We must separate the groups: wind and solar are cleaner, safer, and better than oil and natural gas.

President Obama: Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.

All of these are amazing, logical, and progressive ideas on securing our energy future and moving on to clean energy. But there’s still that red herring that keeps coming up: the oil lobby. We all know how ExxonMobil fared with their profits last year, but many don’t know that the company employs researchers and scientists for wind, solar, and renewables — the next steps in securing their sky-high corporate profits. Overpopulation is a delicate subject for those who love to breed, but more people equals more people that need to consume resources: land, water, food, air, and energy. How about this… the new humans we do breed should be smarter, less evil, and less driven by the dollar and only the dollar. They would need to be educated. So that means EDUCATION becomes part of the new ecological equation. It pays to know.

President Obama: America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. The CEO of Siemans America — a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina — has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs. And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I’ve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings.

The President drives it home again: the market-based solution. The building, the repairing, the creation, and the transitioning. All in the name of clean energy and clean technology. These solutions are based on ideas, facts, and research that will get more consumers and workers to vote. The regeneration of our energy sector can’t, and won’t, result in a dot-com style bust. It will be something that will create for us a less stagnant future. What the President needs to do more of is reprogramming the consumer’s mind away from just recycling and “greening.” There’s the idea that a personal carbon footprint goes a long way. What one will do — people will follow. People need to know how what THEY EAT affects the environment. How bottled and privatized water affects the environment. And the overall importance of how they consume on a daily basis.

President Obama: I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let’s start right away. These initiatives in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, and housing will help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs. But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs. And that has to start at the earliest possible age.

Mosaic Co-Founder & President Billy Parish said via Clean Tech Finance that “The transition to clean energy represents one of the greatest opportunities for wealth creation of our time. [Let’s help] accelerate that transition by enabling more people to participate in it and to profit from it.” Parish echoes the President’s statements above and reiterates the importance of these discussions. Our energy future and our transition to clean energy relies on education. And in our society that will mean communicating and marketing with a conscience, investing in education, divesting from coal, oil, and natural gas, and starting the boom and “industrialization” of clean, renewable energy! Let’s start right away.

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