Home editor's blog on sun & fossil fuels Who do you want: Mr. Solar or Mr. Oil & Mr. Coal?

Who do you want: Mr. Solar or Mr. Oil & Mr. Coal?

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mr-oil-mr-gas-mr-romneycoal-oil-likeability-smallerSo, polls show solar, wind and renewables are far more popular than oil, coal, and even natural gas. In fact, some polls show it’s not even close – see the numbers from the graph to the right which show solar is WAY more popular among Americans than oil and coal, with coal at the very bottom of the energy popularity rankings

Yet we have the specter of Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney charging that President Obama is “No Mr. Oil, Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal” during last night’s presidential debate – as if this was something sure to sink the President!

And, although Obama did put in a plug for renewable energy – one of his best lines was when he noted the U.S. shouldn’t let Germany, China and other countries pull ahead in the race to the energy forms of the future, which are clearly renewable energy forms – he ultimately emphasized his support for the very same dirty fossil fuels that the self-declared “Mr. Oil, Mr. Gas, and Mr. Coal” was proclaiming as “the future” of energy in the U.S.

Mr. Solar a no show
No one stepped forward to claim the title of “Mr. Solar” or “Mr. Wind”, though Mr. Obama repeatedly invoked the oxymoron “clean coal” – c’mon, Mr. President, there is no such thing as clean coal!

So, renewable energy is hugely popular in the U.S. -- and this across political lines, with up to 75 percent of Republicans identifying as moderate to strong supporters of solar. Yet the two presidential candidates, none of whom has mentioned, or even been asked about, one of the most crucial issues facing global humanity, climate change, are doing all they can to dance to the tune of Big Oil and Dirty Coal.

Why?

Two reasons:

1) Money talks – Big Oil, and to a comparatively lesser extent, Dirty Coal, have huge amounts of money to throw at politics and politicians;

2) Blue collar (mostly male) “independents” – They’re typically stereotyped as being pro-fossil fuels and anti-renewable energy (though, with the growth in blue collar installation jobs in solar and wind, you have to wonder if this stereotype holds true anymore), and they’re perceived as being the key to deciding an extremely close presidential race. In short, Romney and Obama think they need to appeal to this relatively narrow group of voters in order to win the election, the rest of the electorate, which literally loves solar, be damned!

They might be right about the blue collar independents, though, personally, I’m not so sure they are anymore. I do know that both Romney and Obama are wrong, wrong, wrong to downplay the importance of renewable energy to America’s future, both environmentally and economically.

In fact, I felt so strongly about this that this morning I thought I’d start my own ironic “Mr. Oil, Mr. Gas & Mr. Coal” Facebook page to criticize simplistic narratives about how fossil fuels are so great for America. Only when I searched to see if someone had beat me to it this morning, someone had indeed beaten me to it and created a “Mr. Oil, Mr. Gas, and Mr. Coal” Facebook page.

Go figure ;-)

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