My neighbor recommended this video last night and I have watched almost all of the two hour video. I say almost because I fell asleep twice. The concepts are fascinating but the video was excruciating for me. First, I process science and math slowly because I almost need to translate from engineering-speak to language that includes something beyond declarative sentences. I then need to strip words down to laboratory factoids; e.g., excite, inertia and beautiful are words not used as Virginia Woolf would use them. Next, I have a disdain for this all male club presentation.
And I admit it, it simply looks like Boys and their Toys. Jeebus these guys love their loud, powered, whirly bits. And I just have to say something about the fashion. I watched 2 hours thinking it was filmed three or four decades ago. I thought right away of my childhood in the 50’s and the science films in school, the wretched graphics for the scientific data and the Popular Mechanics look and feel. ‘Dork’ is the kindest description I can give for the fashion impression. But, alas it was filmed in 1997.
I can’t help but think of a wonderful post I read by Rana at Frogs and Ravens called Thoreau’s Laundry where she discusses the gender divisions within the environmental movement. I love this essay and want to devote more time to it. But, for the sake of this film review I must include a couple of her observations. She describes how it seems that within the green movement women are expected to change the way they shop, prepare food, garden, line-dry clothes and many more examples of very labor intensive aspects of raising children and keeping a home. She goes on to describe the major change in a man’s life is to drive a hybrid vehicle or ride a bike.
Riding a bike to work gives you public street cred in a way that line-drying at home does not. Similarly, technology-based solutions tend impose little personal cost on individuals beyond the financial (which, yes, can be considerable) - once you have installed your solar panels, you do not have to think about them on a daily basis unless you are a gadget geek. Indeed, many of the technology solutions are in reality extensions of a fascination with "toys" - a sort of gee-whiz, who’s got the latest cool thing mentality that, again, favors men over women.
(It is worth noting that many of these "toys" are no more "green" than green fashion, because, again, they tweak the problem of over-consumption rather than challenging it. But while the idiocies of green fashion are frequently challenged or easy to see, technological "solutions" are more generally received positively.)
In other words, to go green in practice tends to entail additional work for women, while going green for men largely involves getting to play with cool toys.
This is the crux of my resistance. I am not qualified to critique the science. I am more than able to critique the notion that we continue to consume without consciousness. It isn’t a balanced or healthy way to live and as a way to look at sustainability it misses major points. And the something for nothing sensibility is a dangerous one. This very point was raised in the film by reminding viewers of the nuclear energy marketing post-WWII, that promised virtually free energy.
What really counts is that we get to see the miraculously inventive nature of the human being through history. Energy generation for free in each home or building! Damn! The reality of the entire scientific, corporate and government framework is built on paradigms that are ready to buckle. In the past this reality would surface through scientists' discoveries. But these scientists like Tessla were silenced, robbed, imprisoned and murdered rather than threaten the power structure. Moreover, their work was impugned by the scientific community itself. This is all part of Myths America. More to catalog in the centuries of lies. And that is what interests me most.
All that has been lacking to give us free energy and a cleaner, safer world is political will. I don’t think even that can ultimately stop the movement towards a better world.