editor's blog logoI’m not sure where, when and how long the recently formed Electrification Coalition — a consortium of business leaders from across industries devoted to promoting the electrification of America’s autos and fueling infrastructure — is going to be running the ad that I’ve pasted a few paragraphs below.

But it sure is good to see powerful private industry figures pushing for EVs and an EV-charging infrastructure.

That said, there’s a notable player missing in the ad below. Watch it, and see if you notice who it is.

That’s right, the ad only shows shots of renewable forms of energy — wind, solar, hydroelectric. There are no shots of giant smokestacks. I wonder why.

Actually, I don’t.

You’ll never be able to successfully promote electric vehicles with the image of skyscraping smokestacks and billowing smoke in the background.

And you know why?

Despite all the propaganda about ‘clean coal’ — one of the biggest oxymorons in the history of greenwashing — most people do get it. They recognize that coal never was, is not, and will never be ‘clean’.

Despite all the propaganda about ‘clean coal’ — one of the biggest oxymorons in the history of greenwashing — most people do get it. They recognize that coal never was, is not, and will never be ‘clean’.

Actually, I’m a bit ambivalent about coal’s absence from this EC ad.

One the one hand, the ad promotes the EV-renewable synergy. On the other, it covers up the reality that, for now, a good portion of the power pushing our EVs forward comes from Dirty Coal.

EC tries to dance around controversy of Dirty Coal
And clearly the Electrification Coalition  would like to dance around the controversy the renewable energy vs. coal equation almost inevitably fuels.

It’s anecdotal evidence, I know, but I posted a very short, and very reasonably worded response to the EC video on YouTube below the video itself three days ago. In it, as I do here, I pointed out coal’s absence from the ad, and what I think this means — basically, that the vast majority of people see coal as a Dirty form of energy.

My comment was never published. Not surprising, but disappointing.

Mountains of coal and smokestacks don't add up to a 'clean' image no matter how you cut it.Web 2.0 has changed some things. However, one thing it hasn’t changed much is the desire of the corporate world to try and maintain control over its message, and how people read it and respond to it. Never mind that it always has been, and always will be completely impossible to control the meanings people take, and make, from a message, whether corporate or not.

Clearly, the EC is no exception. It doesn’t want “radical” messages like mine messing up the maintream feel its trying to create in the ad.

I understand that — maintream ideology is a powerful thing, and can be potentially dangerous to step outside it — though one can also be surprised at the many positive things stepping outside of the box often brings.

In fact, I don’t think the message that coal is dirty is radical at all. Clearly the EC agrees with me, or it would’ve put coal into its promo ad — though it doesn’t want to explicitly acknowledge that coal is dirty. Hence, the filtering out of my comment about the ad on YouTube.

Web 2.0 has changed some things. However, one thing it hasn’t changed much is the desire of the corporate world to try and maintain control over its message, and how people read it and respond to it. Never mind that it always has been, and always will be completely impossible to control the meanings people take, and make, from a message, whether corporate or not.

Hopefully, in the long run this ad — and the Electrification Coalition — will push the world more and more toward renewables and away from Dirty Coal.

The alternative is that masking the dirty secret that most EVs will be fired primarily by coal-generated electricity might actually allow the “missing actor” in the ad, Dirty Coal — out of sight = out of mind — to grow its share of the national electric grid as we work toward the EC goal of 100 million EVs by 2040.

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