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Our Greener, Climate-Friendly Future Is Going to Be Amazing—It's Our Job to Tell That Story

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/15/our-greener-climate-friendly-future-going-be-amazing-its-our-job-tell-story


Three hundred and fifty maniacs (a 3.5% spin-off from Natalie Merchant’s wonderful group!)

Natalie Merchant was really lucky to get Jen Turner for her lead guitarist in the early days.

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“Climate activists have not effectively translated the clean energy revolution at the individual level. They’re great at the big picture: 100% renewables, wind turbines, solar panels in the desert.”

Which of the 3 basic EV drivetrains - all-battery BEV, plug-in hybrid PHEV, hydrogen fuel cell HFCEV - offer the most potential to reduce fuel/energy consumption? The correct answer is plug-in hybrid PHEVs. Climate activists are being misled by 350-org “purists” who haven’t given half a thought about it. Huge battery BEVs require far more battery resources and go through packs in fewer miles than in a 150mpg Chevy Volt hybrid. LA Times ran an article years ago titled “The 500mpg solution” about plug-in hybrid tech. Environmental purists have bought into the corporate lie about plug-in hybrids being an “interim” technology.

The author says:

“I’m not advocating that climate activists adopt the language of the Right.”

Except that he is.
and on that no hamburgers and curtailed airline flights – climate chaos will make that come true.
So I say let’s sit back and embrace the inevitable. We’re at 418 ppm now, man. Mass death approacheth.


Hi Wellan,

I definitely agree with the concern you raise regarding “my way is the only way” purists. With respect to the potential to reduce fuel consumption, I have a different assessment. Like a lot of energy generation solutions, a lot of what works best, depends on the application. Right now, I’m working with a local compost collection group that is considering several options. Considering the small distances, and the terrain they travel, it seems like battery vehicles are battery assisted bicycles may be better than hybrids.

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I’ve done some bicycling infrastructure design, Steve, but my forte is mass transit. I have 4 bikes - two folding bikes, a semi-recumbent and a standard. Physically, my limit is only 5 miles twice any day I take one out. Bicyclists need specific infrastructure that limits or excludes automobiles. Trikes and Quad should also be a part of comprehensive bikeway investment.

Any household EV offers a backup power supply and the means to more closely monitor and reduce energy consumption and the choice to use electricity for appliances or for driving. Thus, the household EV incentivizes driving less by supporting the growth of local economy services that become accessible without having to drive.


Yes. I’ve worked on small scale, local sustainable energy systems for electricity, water pumping, and transportation. From my experience, I’ve found that, in the US and in the developing world, they encourage conservation. On the other hand, I’ve seen that when an energy source is cheap and easily accessible, it does not encourage conservation. But, that’s just my experience. I don’t have scientific data on this, so if you do, I’d appreciate you sharing citations with me.

I am glad you point out the importance of encouraging less driving. My concern with an approach to energy usage which does not embrace conservation is that, even if the energy generation were to be based on a non-extractive and 100% GHG free source, energy consumption itself has impacts on the environment which can be detrimental if done without consideration of ecological constraints.

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Have you seen “Planet of the Humans”? Time to go back to the drawing board on Green Energy. We have to do better, scams are not the solution.


These 350 folks will never be the grownups in the room and tell anyone that yes, we do need to radically cut back on the energy we use (not just get it from different sources) – or tell anyone that their need to have the shiniest new toy every year is going to doom their children and grandchildren to an uninhabitable planet… While this guy ridicules the idea of “no more airplanes or (gasp) hamburgers,” he is shamelessly shilling for Tesla and some truck company named Rivian – click on that “have you seen the cars?” link and it takes you right to their corporate websites! Makes me wonder how much 350 (or “Fossil Free Media,” which seems to be “a project of 350”) is pulling in in donations from these guys? Of course, Elon Musk is such a stellar citizen that he is right now threatening my neck of the woods (the SF bay area) with renewing the pandemic by defying county orders NOT to re-start his factory…


Aside from the myriad environmental issues involving “green” energy, the economic incoherence in this piece is off the charts. Public transportation is not free now, even on roads and rail lines that were built decades ago. Why on earth would it become free in the future after we’ve invested billions to retrofit it for electric vehicles? And how would any of this change the economic disparity facing people in the bottom half of the economy? In cities like Seattle, grown adults already cram in to houses and “apodments”, essentially spending half of their income for a bedroom with a shared kitchen and bath. Now, what? These people will magically all get new, comfortable apartments? This is “too cheap to meter” nonsense – old and so unoriginal as to rely on a boring twentieth-century cliche: a huckster in a shiny car.


This article is literally dripping with sociopathic privilege. The author and the organization have no concept of finite - as in, we live on a finite planet with finite resources and finite energy. At what point will the author and others like him recognize that we’ve exhausted nearly every resource and funneled the profits up to the .0001% of the wealthiest while ignoring the starving masses. We, who are awake and aware of the hellish dystopian future that awaits our children and grandchildren, have been trying to be heard, but people like you choose to feed this opiate to the remaining privileged people in this culture who desperately want to believe it and don’t care who will suffer. This is madness.


Welcome Free_Goddess I see you…

Live simply so others may simply live .

For me Solar is the future, ending individual ownership , a sharing economy so people can get Use and Access to the stuff of life .
Localised decentralised economies and of course using Hemp for so many nonrenewable resources.

It’s not difficult but the change must come from what one is being …in relationship to each other and the planet.
As you say it’s only working for a small percentage of greedy people.Time to Awaken The Species and make it work for the highest good of all.
Its impossible to grow ,grow ,grow the economy in a never ending upward spiral .De-growth is the only way forward making things that last , doing away with built in obsolescence.
Life was never about the new shiny things anyway.


A new low, even for the 350 Maniacs act. Now they insert ads for pestilent predators in their hackneyed eco-techno-fabulous screeds. It’s getting intolerable. Don’t anyone mention biomass.

“It’s our job” they say… Wow. No wonder folks wonder about, uh, reimbursement revenues?


this kid of feel-good totally unrealistic post actually gets in the way of dealing with climate and enviro crises as it encourages complacency. First there is no such thing as “clean energy” that will not only maintain but improve our middle class life style. There are serious impacts from manufacture (including mining for materials) siting, maintenance, disposal and transmission of all renewable energy. Drive-everywhere, even if in electric vehicles, is gobbling up the countryside, killing people and animals, congesting the cities. Meat production impacts negatively in so many ways. Overfishing, extinctions, pollinator collapse - none of this will be saved by “clean energy” and nothing will save the plant if we don’t slow skyrocketing population growth, as usual ignored in the feel-good nonsense.


“When an energy source is cheap and easily accessible, it does not encourage conservation.”

One of the many reasons I advocate for plug-in hybrids is their limited electric range - 20-miles (up to 45mph) with a Prius PHEV 5kwh pack rated 110mpg, 50-miles (up to 65mph) with a Chevy Volt 18kwh pack rated 150mpg. Miles driven beyond this range are rated 40-50mpg. Gas taxes can be increased but avoided by driving less, plus using the battery to power household appliances. Thus, economic incentives to drive shorter distances which build local economies in retail, occupations, institutions that become accessible without having to drive.


What also needs to be mentioned continuously about a greener, climate-friendly future is also how it can disempower some very nasty types whom have profited off of fossil fuels since the 19th Century. What part of seeing the House of Saud, the mullahs of Iran, Czar Putin, Exxon, Shell, etc., as names in a history book of formerly powerful entities now gone like the Pullman Company or Southern Pacific Railway, is bad? None whatsoever.


“Is Going to Be Amazing -” Oh? Really? Tell me more, and convince that you are not telling fairy-tales.

I have always found the Peak-Oilers more believable that the 350 Climate Change Green fear-mongers. The second group tells us that we must end fossil fuel use because it causes climate change and climate change temperature increase is bad. (Really? The earth’s climate has been going up and down for centuries, and we know that colder is bad.)

In contrast, the Peak-Oilers tell us that we must end fossil-fuel use, be prepared to end it, because sometime not too far in the future we will run out and there won’t be anymore.

Yes, those of us in cities will have to live in multi-family structures, tenements, to be within walking distance of work. We will have to have retail and the like within walking distance of where we live. But you don’t get any good thing for nothing. Those retail shops will be smaller, they will have a smaller selection of goods, and the cost/price will be more.

But the more serious topic that people don’t think about is that the end of fossil fuel will mean the end of big agriculture. The farms as they exist now will not be able to produce food for us. So we will see something like the great exodus of the Roman crisis of the third century, when city dwellers had to leave the cities and become farm workers. Hopefully accompanied by land reorganization, so that each of them is able to have “40 acres and a mule”. Your ability to produce will be measured at a much more basic level, often in sacks of agriculture produce.

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“I’m not advocating that climate activists adopt the language of the Right.” No, it’s far worse. You’re advocating that we adopt their values and vision of the good life. If you think the promise of driving a super-fast Tesla, build by uber-exploiter and billionaire Elon Musk is something to work toward it’s time for you to re-think what, exactly, you’re trying to accomplish and why. It’s particularly ironic that this piece ran right around the time that employes claimed that Musk ordered them to break quarantine and return to work or risk losing their jobs.

But, yeah, Gibbs, Moore, and Zehner are the enemy for questioning this mentality. This imagined future of a high-consumption, luxury lifestyle for all without draining our ecological resources is a mirage. We must begin to question the “leaders” who promise it to us. While not a perfect film, “Planet of the Humans” is right to cast a skeptical eye on this ecomodern snake oil.


The blatant schilling for the auto industry is quite revealing, isn’t it?