99% Shocking | Seventh Generation
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99% Shocking

Author: the Inkslinger

What's with all the hate for the Chevy Volt, the country's first mainstream plug-in passenger car? It cleans the air, prevents climate meltdowns, creates American jobs, reduces oil dependency, and maybe even does the dishes while it brings you a nice hot toddy. But listen to the public chatter, and you'd think it was hell itself on wheels.

In recent months, talking heads all over have been bashing the electric Volt with verbal baseball bats, calling it everything from "crappy" to a "Fred Flintstone car." They've labeled Volt drivers "dorks," the vehicle itself "roller skates with a plug," and declared it a menace whose batteries frequently explode. (In fact, just two unmounted batteries were <em>intentionally</em> set ablaze. A third caught fire when the car it was in lost coolant after being upside down in a test chamber for three weeks.)

All this for a vehicle that performs well, has a top safety rating, and is exactly what the world needs just when it needs it in all kinds of oh-thank-goodness ways.

The Volt isn't the only thing being poked by the pitchforks of a hyperventilating pundit peasantry and its co-conspirators. The federal Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, which helps renewable energy producers start producing, is sunsetting unless a recalcitrant Congress intervenes. Then there's the recent finding from the World Resource Institute that 70% of federal spending on clean technologies is going extinct between 2009 and 2014. And just two weeks ago, the American Legislative Exchange Council said it would likely push to repeal state renewable energy mandates that create jobs by lowering carbon pollution.

The rabid irrationality of this and other similar unadulterated insanity, all of which is being evermore frantically hurled at unmistakably good ideas hints that there's more at work here than the power of dirty energy interests. Certainly there are fingers in pockets and favors changing hands, but the sheer dilated-pupil hysteria of the opposition says what's behind this obvious madness is bigger than that. There's a primal fear of change hiding between these lines.

I know change can be unsettling to the point of deeply scary. I get that different is daunting. But change is coming whether we want it or not. You can't mine all the coal, burn all the oil, and use up much of the rest of everything else and expect things to go merrily along. They call that wearing blinders, and the smart money doesn't because it prefers not to kill itself walking into walls.

We have to pull our heads out of the sand and face this fear of change. We need to become intentional about the transformation that's coming and deliberately design it so that it takes a form we can live with happily ever after. That means dreaming of things like the Volt and trusting that in those dreams we'll find the seeds of something better than we've got. And that calls for courage.

Right now, for the most part, our governments, our businesses, and our media aren't displaying any. They've shown no meaningful willingness to stand up for what's right. They're too busy vociferously defending the clearly indefensible status quo, too busy running from the future and telling tall tales about electric cars, too busy being frightened to dare being brave.

No, dear friends and readers, at this stage in the game, I do believe it's entirely up to us. And we are far from powerless. We have our votes and our voices. We have our hands and our hearts. And whether we take them to the ballot box or the cash register, the streets or the soapbox, they are more than enough to turn back the maddeningly tide of fear that seeks to make inaction the only kind we ever take.

Call it whatever you like -- the 99%, Occupy, evolution, revolution -- this moment in history is about ordinary people realizing, as former diplomat Carne Ross recently put it on Moyers & Company, "that government is no longer fixing things for us… They will not provide the answer. We have to instead take on the burden ourselves."

True enough. And as long as we all work together, we can work with that. Because at the unspoken root of the fear poisoning our future, is the one fact the naysayers don't want you to know: there are far more people ready to move forward than there are people pulling us back. We have the numbers in our corner. All we need is the courage to use them. If each of us can summon that courage just once a week and step outside our comfort zone to make our feelings known -- whether at a rally or a hearing, in a newspaper letter or a Facebook post -- we can be the hope we're waiting for. And in the end, that's the thing that scares them most of all.


photo: BrainThought


jenyerkes picture
Don't forget there are other EV options... I've converted both motorcycle and car and am loving it. It's fun to be a part of automotive technology, no other time has seen such a shift away from the combustion engine! http://tryintothrowyourarms.weebly.com/index.html
Paul Norton picture
Paul Norton
As I understand it one of the selling points with electric cars is that they will primarily recharge overnight when the power plants still need to operate but there is much less of a demand. As we continue to add generating capacity through renewables the power being consumed to recharge the electric cars becomes more and more green, the wind still blows at night. which comes first the renewable energy sources or the more eco frindly uses for that power? Neither, they should be developed simutaneously
Jude113 picture
I agree, unless the battery is charge by 100% solar or wind the Volt is not any greener then gas. Most car batteries are re-charged by coal fired or nuclear power plants which means either carbon emissions or toxic waste. While we are at it, how about ethanol. It is advertised as cleaner burning then gasoline, yet, they fail to mention all the emissions from gas used to power the tractors used to plant, harvest, and transport the corn, and make and transport the ethanol, not to mention all the toxic fertilizers used to grow it. And with the predicted shortfall in corn this year, the government is actually allowing corn to be shipped in from other countries for the sole purpose of ethanol production. How green is that? In the meantime I'll stick with trying to limit my driving and hope that researchers come up with a honest gasoline alternative.
dickerca picture
I agree with other posters. I think the sales pitch that electric cars are "green" is very misleading. As stated, many are powered by coal fired power plants. Anyone who thinks that only big oil lines the pockets of our politicians is in serious denial. Of course, electric and hybrids are probably better than a plain gas powered vehicle, but you have to look at all the factors: cost (really, who can afford a 45,000 Nissan?), power source and practicality. We need to reduce our carbon footprint overall. Also, for the flying comment, flying may be less wasteful than driving, depending on how far you are going and how many people you are taking with you. plus, there are just some places that you cannot drive to.
plainandsimple picture
Heed angibarnett's comment that electricity is usually produced by coal mines which are terrible polluters, causing a lot of lung and other cancers, as well as environmental destruction. Your best ways to most decrease your transportation environmental footprint (I use all of these) are: 1. use a bicycle or walk. 2. use public transport. 3. buy a very fuel efficient car, such as a Honda Civic that uses regular gas, ours achieves 58 mpg on the highway which is the same as many hybrids, or a Smart Car by Mercedes that achieves up to 70 mpg but has low power, thus cannot reach high speeds. I do not know the records for other low mileage cars. 4. Do not fly (I do occassionally), as you are part of using more gas in one trip than you will use in the average car in 50 years. 5. DO NOT buy an electric car, it supports the coal industry!
angibarnett picture
Depending on where you live, an electric car is basically a coal-fired car. Sure the car burns little gasoline when it's running on the battery, but that doesn't mean that you've saved any money or fossil fuel. Much of our energy is from coal plants... If I had several solar panels running my house, then perhaps such a car would be more green than green-washing.
pattymac picture
Excellent article, Inkslinger, and very true. SteveKaye is correct, oil companies need our dependence on fossil fuels. How else can they make their billions? We need to strip these corporations of their power. Not the government, who has shown itself to be in their back pocket, but we, the people.
ceciliabrown419 picture
It won't be the first time they killed the electric cars. The EV1 from the 80's was available in California but could not be bought only leased. When all the leases up they took them all and scrapped them even though people liked them. The first fords were also electric. It does not take a genius to figure out who was behind the demise of these cars. You need to watch the documentary "Who killed the Electric Car" very eye opening.
SteveKaye picture
There is a movement to stop all renewable energy projects because this will maintain dependence upon fossil fuels.
cherds picture
Yeah!!! This is by far the greatest thing..yes politics will try to hold progression at bay only so the political millionaires can continue to make more $$$!! Kudos to Chevy!!! Behind you all the way!!!