Resurrecting the Spirit of Independence


| 4/13/2011 8:42:49 AM


Tags: independence, self-sufficiency, Cam Mather,

I love doing radio interviews because they force me to think fast on my feet. Sitting at my computer while looking out at my pond and my solar panels and my wind turbine, I can take the time to ponder. But when someone asks you a question on the radio, you need to give him or her an answer. Quickly. And hope that it’s halfway intelligent.  

I did a radio interview the other morning and told the audience that using a geothermal heating system will reduce how much natural gas you burn, so you leave that carbon sequestered in the ground. The first caller got on and started debunking climate change and suggested that it was all a big lie started by Ken Lay at Enron. After watching the documentary “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” I wouldn’t put it past Ken Lay. So while the caller and I might not agree on whether climate change is real or not, we certainly have some common ground. It wasn’t until listening to the first newsbreak that I realized I was being interviewed on a FOX News station. Later we’d discuss the Tea Party.

So how does an off-grid living, universal health-care loving, Green Party-supporting leftie reach out to someone who supports the Tea Party? I needed to convince these listeners to embrace renewable energy, because I do believe in climate change, and want them to burn less fossil fuel. 

So instead of appealing to their desire to do their part against climate change I appealed to their strong feelings about independence. The angle is perfectly logical. It’s the American Spirit. It’s that American Independence that inspired their ancestors to toss tea off of British Ships because they were tired of living under someone else’s thumb. How is that any different from working for a living, having part of your income taken by government, then spending what you have left on utilities? Take your after-tax dollars and send them to some guy in a tacky polyester suit in a big office tower to sell you natural gas, or electricity, or propane. What a dumb idea. And you have to keep doing this for the rest of your life. As long as you want your house warm, your food refrigerated or hot water for a shower, you are going to keep taking your after-tax dollars and sending them to somebody else for those essentials, until you’re in a pine box. You’re part of the masses that are experiencing American DEpendence. Pay somebody else, for EVERYTHING. Don’t do or make anything yourself. Where is that in the American Constitution?

spirit of 76From there it’s an easy sell on renewable energy. A geothermal heat pump heating and cooling system saves buying natural gas or propane or home heating oil. It also cuts in half how much electricity you need to buy in the summer for central air conditioning because you’re extracting that “cool” air from the ground. A solar domestic hot water system saves you buying fossil fuel for hot water. Photovoltaic solar panels on your roof save you from having to buy electricity to keep food refrigerated. It’s really simple. Yes, you have to spend some money upfront, but the stuff lasts forever. It’s a one shot deal for a lifetime of independence. Woo Hoo. Strap on your drum, grab a flute, I’ll get the flag and put that bandage on my head kids, we’re putting up solar panels!

Where I live in Eastern Ontario millions spent weeks without electricity during an ice storm in January of 1998. People couldn’t heat their homes, didn’t have food or water, and couldn’t get gas because pumps need electricity. It was a disaster. A couple of generations ago, our grandparents wouldn’t have even noticed an ice storm. Oh they might have spilled some milk walking back from the barn when they slipped on the ice, but their farmhouse would be warm, they would be able to pump water and they would have food stored in the root cellar for their dinner. I think they’d be disgusted at what we’ve become. Beholden to someone else for all the things that have become essential to maintain life. How did this happen?




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