Writers in the Netroots call what happens The Village, and those who engage in this groupthink Villagers. When I hear the term I think of the old TV series The Prisoner, the villagers being those prisoners who obeyed orders and answered to their numbers, blindly following orders from whatever Number 2 was put in front of them.
Today's contestant is Darren Samuelsohn, who took a job at the ultimate villager site, Politico, after a decade as an environmental reporter. His latest basically calls the American renewable industry easy prey for foreign competition, and blithely notes it's being replaced in policy discussions by “cheap natural gas.”
In writing this he's accepting a whole lot of frames put forward by the cavemen who captured the Village with the first Bush and got utterly blatant about it with the second.
Size is all that matters. It does in fossil fuels. In new tech industries innovation counts for a lot more, and we have more of it. Small companies can also move into niches quickly.
Natural gas is cheap. Really? Really. Only if you ignore the environmental damage, a cost no one seems willing to account for. Accepting lousy accounting as reality means giving in to the frame.
- Solar and wind depend on government grants, while fossil fuels are free enterprise. Samuelsohn knows this to be a lie, yet he repeats it as though it's not.
This is how Moore's Law works. One plus one is just two, and two is a very small number. But keep moving forward in time and change happens rapidly. By five years you're talking about 32. We can get there with current technology, without the giant improvements I'm seeing every day in software, in electrical subsystems, in efficiency, in standards, and in new types of technology like that hydrogen-pumping leaf.
Let me cut Samuelsohn some slack here, and note that Washington is really a horrible place to be covering this story. The city is owned lock, stock and barrel by caveman energy interests. It's amazing that western energy farmers get any attention at all, let alone a taste of stimulus largesse.
In the end this is not a political story, although it is a story with enormous political implications. It's an economic story, a tech story.
The politics is that Washington is living in an environment of scarcity, scarcity the fossil fuel industry encourages, because it raises the value of proven reserves. But there is no energy shortage. The Sun shines every day. The wind blows. We live on a molten rock. When we can harvest just a small portion of this energy, we move quickly from an era of scarcity to one of abundance.
Every year the cost of harvesting solar and wind energy is coming down. Every year the cost of finding stuff to burn goes up, and we're forced to close our eyes to increasing economic damage from both the finding and the burning. Forced to close them...in Washington. In the real world there's an industry that's growing and whose eyes are wide open.
When even an experienced environmental reporter can't report that truth, because he's working in Washington, we know what the real problem is.