Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Another Kind of Independence

"From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me." 
-- Woody Guthrie

Happy 4th.  Today is a day to ponder independence in the US of A. 

There's the famous revolt by a young upstart republic against the biggest guys on the block, those wearing those red coats, over two hundred years ago.  That's the reason for the day in the first place; an inspiring kind of independence. 

We hear a lot about energy independence.  That's where the US creates all its own energy; doesn't have to import any from faraway places, and doesn't have to send young Americans with guns to make sure it keeps coming.  That's definitely a good kind of independence. 

How about one glorious step further -- independence from fossil fuels?  That would be inspired. There are pockets of freedom, where people in the US can choose an alternative when they turn on a light switch or fill up their car's tank.  And these pockets are growing, but slowly, maybe too slowly.

Many people in most places in the country still don't get much choice.  The fossil fuel industry is fine with that.  An uneducated consumer is their favorite kind.  Meanwhile, even the educated consumers cannot escape their oppressive tactics.

The hundreds of millions spent on spin and lobbying and buying elected officials berate all of us relentlessly.  The fossil fuel industry repeats their favorite lie -- that Americans cannot have prosperity and live our lives without their pollution. 

They monger fear and shout down real innovation so vehemently it is hard to think clearly.  They strive to keep us in the past telling us fossils are the future.

They turn things upside down to such a point that some Americans believe (or almost believe) that clean alternatives are a way for the government to take our choices away when actually, clean energy represents the freedom to choose.  Sounds like a foundation of that young country scratched onto parchment over two hundred yeas ago.

Clean energy represents a chance to get out from under the slow crush of an industry so cynical and so lost that it is willing to jeopardize the health of everyone, including themselves and their children, to make more money and maintain their hegemony. 

Breaking free from this clenched fist of energy would truly be a great kind of independence.  That's the next revolution we can be proud to pass onto the world. 

So let's do it.  Make some noise.  Support clean energy.  Be free.

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