Smart Energy Future … or Anna Nicole Smith … ???

Google Anna Nicole Smith and you get almost 20 million hits.  (Happily, I’ve never looked at one … and don’t intend to.) Google Apollo Alliance Summit and there are 124. Which one matters? And which one does the media think matters? 

This past week in Washington, DC, the Apollo Alliance Summit sought to foster a discussion and momentum for a better energy future. As described by Jerome Ringo, President of the Apollo Alliance, the Summit sought

“To challenge each other. To grow beyond our institutional identities. And to build a transformational movement that will build a new energy future and, in the process, will change America forever.”

The Apollo Alliance links together two critical objectives: moving the nation toward a better energy future (more renewable future) and to create good, well-paying, union-protected jobs to reinvigorate the American middle class.

The speakers included industrial leaders, governors, and — well — Senator Hillary Clinton.

 Hillary Clinton laid out her energy plan, stating that

“We have a big decision to make. We have two paths we can pursue. We can continue to allow our energy needs to hamstring our national security. Or we can choose a different, better path based on performance and the facts — not partisanship and ideology. We can choose a path based on a long-term strategy to secure our economy, to free our hand to protect our security, and to keep faith with our values.”

What is sad is that Clinton is right … absolutely right. These words — basically her entire speech and her entire strategy for moving toward a better energy future — could have been given by a Republican or Democratic Party candidate for President and been warmly received. 

Sadly, for the nation (and the world), on 17 Sept 2001, George W Bush told Americans to pull out their credit cards and go shopping. Too bad he didn’t give a speech like Hillary’s and act on it.

Can any American patriot honestly argue that we would not be better off if, with each passing day, we were imported less oil?   

Sadly, not many Americans will hear of the Apollo Alliance Summit.  Some call this the “Bread and Circuses” aspect of American culture.  I think of this as the “missing white girl in Aruba” mania. 

We’ll have Bachelor in Hawaii on TV rather than serious documentaries about the war in Iraq — what is going right and, sadly, the far more that is going wrong. 

We’ll have hearing after hearing run about stained blue dresses but no serious look at collusion during the California energy crisis. 

We’ll talk about Janet Jackson’s nipple but not the real possibilities for every American to contribute to a better tomorrow (for themselves and for the nation) through a more energy-efficient life. 

And, TV ran the funeral procession of Anna Nicole live and newspapers had photos on their front pages while a positive vision and concepts for America’s future were buried in the inside pages.


7 responses to “Smart Energy Future … or Anna Nicole Smith … ???

  1. Discussion around our house has asked the same and more questions of this f@#$ing society. Trevanian wrote in Shibumi that a society which chooses toilet tissue based on softness advertising is a failure no matter which way it is sliced. We have no stomach for reality and the truth. I deplore this aspect of humans and Americans in particular.

    My sister lives in Moscow and in her 15 years there she has never witnessed the behavior of people in restaurants to be anywhere near as piggish. We spent a week together in June 2005 for a high school band reunion in SE Florida, eating most meals out. Her observations: Folks here are served these HUGE plates of food, most of which will be thrown away as waste while not even noticing the crumbs deepening on their cashmered chests. Moscovites consider themselves fortunate when they can afford half a pound of beef to decorate a pizza once a month; if they can find meat at all in the stores at an affordable price at the same time the ATM’s actually have money to dispense. Never a certainty.

    Proud to say I, too, have not watched any ANS coverage, no reality shows-ever, I don’t want to be a millionaire or wedded to some bachelor-liar with no morals or he’d already have a wife thanks so much; without my satellite tv and the tivo I wouldn’t look at the damn thing at all. Thank you for your writings and moral stance you so adeptly defend.

    Regards from a like-thinker,

  2. We’ll talk about Janet Jackson’s nipple but not the real possibilities for every American to contribute to a better tomorrow (for themselves and for the nation) through a more energy-efficient life.

    You have to go to Wal-Mart to learn how to have a more energy-efficient life, or at least, energy-efficient lights.

    Don’t be depressed. I’d rather spend the rest of my life with the news filled with the inconsequential doings of inane people who photograph well, rather than hearing about horrific things with real consequences 24/7. There is such a thing as message fatigue, and when the message is “YOU FILTHY AMERICANS CONSUME TOO MUCH” the message is unlikely to penetrate. Make the message “SAVE MORE OF YOUR MONEY AND TIME” and people will pay attention.

    Probably half the reason people bought hybrids in California was for the HOV sticker and in some areas, advantageous parking. You can be seized with grief with the utter callousness of people who don’t do things for the right reason, or you can look at the fleets of Prii and Civics on the road and see hundreds of thousands of gallons of gas a day not being consumed. So what if they didn’t all join the Sierra Club and install solar panels? It’s a start. What ever happened to incrementalism?

    You libs need to lighten up. You’re never going to market anything with superiority and moral disdain leading as your major talking points.

  3. Darren … as for your ending, isn’t that the message of the Apollo Alliance … do well by doing good? That renewable energy and energy efficiency leads to good jobs and a stronger economy and a wealthier America?

    As for me, the nation is at war and yet most people are consumed with consumer life. That does not strike me as the correct thing for the nation to do.

    While you might reject the IPCC (although your comment doesn’t address it), there is the fact that (at a minimum, there is a good chance of there being) a serious threat exists to a decent future for humanity — and the United States — through Global Warming. And, we can do something about it … but we need to choose to do so. And, an educated public might be able to make a knowing choice.

    And, did anything about my post/discussion argue that I believe that everyone needs to take actions based on concerns over Global Warming? Or, to mitigate Peak Oil? Or, to defend American Democracy? If you choose to read through much of my material re energy, my focus is that win-win-win formulas exist, with Walmart’s energy saving strategy a good (excellent) example of that. While Wal-Mart’s management seems to have become clearly convinced of Global Warming’s impacts (and threat), the financials of their energy efficiency programs should be attractive to any CFO anywhere in the world. 40+% ROI is pretty tremendous.

  4. You are correct, I apologize for oversimplifying your position.

    As far as the IPCC goes, I’m still waiting on the cosmic-ray hypothesis to completely falter and break down. I’m just a little anxious whenever there is a global problem where the proposed answer is income redistribution. More bad things have been done and more people put in the ground for the concept of income redistribution in the past century than any other concept — and carbon-trading is an expensive income redistribution system with a green logo.

    I agree that the climate is changing, but it is also true that with a fraction of the economic costs of even an inconsequential plan (in terms of effect) like Kyoto we could feed everyone, give everyone in the world clean water and some basic education. Hovering over the atmospheric CO2 meter watching the ppms go up and down is functionally no more help to the Third World than hovering over the NASDAQ Level II stats and watching your stocks of choice. There are finite resources, I would rather use them for something other than mitigation of CO2, or at least, put CO2 mitigation and decrease toward the bottom of the societal “To Do” list. That being the case, I’m also going to do what I can to limit my CO2 production just in case IPCC is right.

    In terms of greatest threat, I’m going to have to go with nuclear-armed Islamists over climate change, at least in the next 10 years. It will take the climate a long time to kill tens of millions of people, that’s the work of an afternoon with a nuclear exchange. I would also put potential genetically-engineered diseases ahead of climate change. But I digress.

    Wal-Mart has always been brutal about cost-cutting. Recycling is just another way to improve their margin, as is CF lighting, etc. They’re pushing CF because it also helps their image, and with organized labor actively gunning for them in the public opinion marketplace, they could use a win. I’m glad they pushed GE on the prices, it will allow more people to buy and use them. We’re replacing with them as our incandescents bite the dust. LCD panels replacing CRTs will at least use less electricity while people watch the ANS funeral, and W-M is rolling those out as well. If W-M sells green, then we’ll get green as a society without much in the way of conscious thought.

    I’m fortunate to live in a house built by a former electric company executive, and it’s (in the words of electricians who’ve worked on it) “like, stupid insulated”. It’s all-electric, yet our annual kWh consumption is a little under half of Al Gore’s Nashville home, not counting his gas bills (and before the CF Surge). If anything, living in a Thermos Bottle of a house (and having the low bills to prove it) has made me more environmentally-aware. I really don’t like to spend money on bills, for most Americans heat and light are functionally insensible things until the bill arrives and only at that point do you think “Wow, maybe I could wear a sweatshirt now and then, or buy a Slanket“. The outrage doesn’t often persist beyond one reset of the thermostat. If your house’s energy meter ran on quarters, you can bet people would conserve.

    The only thing that will get people to conserve is for energy to cost more, IMO. Considering that Saudi oil production is apparently in decline, this is likely to continue — which is a net good for the environment, because biofuels and other carbon-neutral options are a money-loser when oil is cheap.

  5. I should have said:

    It’s all-electric, yet our annual kWh consumption is a little under half of Al Gore’s Nashville home on a per-square foot basis, not counting his gas bills (and before the CF Surge).

  6. Darren,

    Several points:

    1. FYI — I am not a believer in Kyoto, if that is what you mean by income redistribution. I do, however, believe in a Global Warming Impact Fee … and will blog my concept here in the coming weeks. But, that Fee would hit any country’s imports to the US that was not in a similar regime.

    2. Re the nukes — I both agree and disagree. In short, what you are pointing to is the classic issue of

    3. Re Walmart, I’ve blogged and will blog more on my business analysis of their approach. RE CFLs, the rough estimate is that in 3 years, by selling CFLs, their customers will be spending roughly $10 billion per year less on electricity bills. Do you think Wal-Mart has a good feel (to several points after the decimal point) how much of their disposal income their customers spend at Walmart? Will $10 billion in free money translate to, perhaps, $2.5 billion more in annual revenue for Wal-mart? E.g., they are creating market space by cutting into utility bills. (Plus, they are doing gross with the CFLs and that capital expense comes from the electicity industry as well.)

    4. You write: ” That being the case, I’m also going to do what I can to limit my CO2 production just in case IPCC is right.” This is what is called a ‘no-regrets’ strategy. That is something that I can live with. If we (the US) were serious about energy efficiency and moving toward renewable energy (and non-GHG energy, such as nuclear power) over the coming decade, we could (greatly) strengthen the economy, reduce reliance on unstable areas for our energy, improve health (e.g., less mercury into the atmosphere), etc … while putting the nation (and the world) onto a better path toward mitigating (stopping) Global Warming when the fifth (or sixth) round of the IPCC and changes in the real world make you believe that they are right and that this represents a fundamental threat worth confronting.

  7. Yes, Wal-Mart can probably tell you a reasonable estimate of what happens to every dollar saved. It’s why they’re Wal-Mart.

    Then again, in 2005 Wal-Mart had sales nearly equivalent to the GDP of Sweden (WMT: $348 billion, Sweden: $358 billion GDP), so believe it or not the extra $2.5 billion is, comparatively, not a lot of reason to get up in the morning. At their 2005 margin of 3.62%, they keep about $90.5 million of that $2.5 billion.

    Where they make their money is in bumping up their margin, because 0.1% of $348 billion is a lot more than 3.62% of $2.5 billion. This is why WMT are such raving loons about cost-cutting and efficiency, and why lowering their energy bills is a no-brainer.

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