NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: MANLY GREENLINESS

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Talking With The Redwoods
  • Weekend Video: Evangelicals Confront Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Living The Platinum Rule: Making The Best Invention Of All Time Better
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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  • Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: MANLY GREENLINESS

    Making Green More Macho

    Edwin R. Stafford and Cathy L. Hartman, July 2012 (The Solutions Journal)

    “It’s kind of embarrassing,” Emmanuel of Oakland, California, responded when asked about carrying a reusable shopping bag. “It looks like a man-purse.”

    Emmanuel was part of a recent OgilvyEarth study entitled, Mainstream Green: Moving Sustainability from Niche to Normal, which investigated the discrepancy between Americans’ actions and intentions around sustainable living and shopping behaviors, otherwise known as the Green Gap. Drawing from interviews of environmental experts, ethnographies of urban consumers, and 1,800 survey respondents representative of the U.S. adult population, OgilvyEarth’s research confirmed that the Green Gap is driven partly by avoidance of the “crunchy granola hippy” and “rich elitist snob” images of going green.

    What sparked media buzz, however, was OgilvyEarth’s conclusion that men like Emmanuel are often self-conscious about using canvas shopping bags, drinking from reusable water bottles, or driving Prius hybrids. Put simply, men saw green as too feminine. Among surveyed respondents, 85 percent said that they saw women as more involved than men in the environmental movement, and 82 percent said that going green was definitely more feminine than masculine. Indeed, when segmenting respondents by their green activities, women dominated the ranks of “Super Greens” whereas men were more often identified as “Green Rejecters.”

    OgilvyEarth’s gender gap findings aren’t surprising. Past academic studies and polls have long found that women tend to express greater environmental responsibility than men.2-4 Given that moms do most of the shopping, cooking, and maintaining of households—controlling 85 percent of household spending5—green marketers have instinctively crafted their advertising and products to appeal to women. This strategy may be holding back the embrace of green behaviors by men.

    Lessons from the famously successful Don’t Mess with Texas campaign are instructive in how green can be made more macho through message framing that connects sustainability and masculine values.

    Don’t Mess with Texas

    Some people think it’s the state motto, but Tim McClure of the Austin-based ad agency GSD&M first coined the ubiquitous Don’t Mess with Texas slogan as part of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation’s 1985 anti-littering campaign.6 The slogan started out as a simple bumper sticker. The televised 1986 Cotton Bowl football game included blues music legend Stevie Ray Vaughan turning to his audience after a stirring rendition of “The Eyes of Texas” to drawl, “Don’t mess with Texas.” He had struck a chord. Fans went wild.

    The campaign’s primary target—males aged 16 to 24 who had previously thought little about tossing trash on Texas roadways—were swayed. Don’t Mess with Texas bumper stickers appeared on pickup trucks across the state and, according to the Institute for Applied Research, within its first year, the campaign reduced roadside trash by 29 percent. By 1990, litter was reduced by more than 72 percent!

    Vaughan and a parade of other star Texan musicians, athletes, actors, and comedians lent their talents to Don’t Mess with Texas commercials to broaden the appeal to these young men. Through music and humor, they told a story that trashing Texas was simply unbecoming of “real” Texans.

    The catchphrase eventually appeared on everything from hats to apparel to coffee mugs. It became a punch line in movies, political campaigns, and sports. Don’t Mess with Texas was embedded in pop culture. The campaign endures today, exhibiting extremely high awareness and public understanding of the slogan’s meaning.

    Winning Hearts over Minds

    Don’t Mess with Texas united a green behavior—anti-littering—with what was near and dear to the hearts of young macho Texans—Texas pride. The state’s tough history and self-reliant culture are exceptionally potent among young males, and the slogan cast litterers as “outsiders” or “imposters” insulting the honor of Texas.

    Interestingly, not everyone liked Don’t Mess with Texas when it was first proposed. Representatives of Keep Texas Beautiful requested the slogan be tweaked to “Pleasedon’t mess with Texas.” The idea was rejected. The slogan needed to be an acerbic decree, using the very same bristly patois respected and used by its audience.

    In a 2006 retrospect on the campaign, McClure and his colleague Roy Spence wrote, “identifying the target audience and targeting a message to them in their own anthropological language can work wonders.”

    More formally, messages that appeal to mental “frames”—the cognitive structures that people use to understand and interpret reality—home in on people’s values, assumptions, and aspirations to better connect and resonate with a target audience. This kind of message framing encourages people to act on their deepest heartfelt ideals and beliefs by appealing to emotions, rather than just logic. Nike’s famous Just Do It campaign dares young athletes to pursue their passions without excuse—by purchasing Nike shoes, of course.

    Green marketing research indicates that framing green product advertising along consumers’ self-interests and values, rather than on broad messages of “save the planet,” can expand mainstream appeal.9 For example, framing toxic-free carpet cleaner as “safe for crawling babies” provides a compelling emotional appeal to parents regardless of the product’s environmental benefit.

    Building a Macho Frame

    Message framing and strong narratives can help develop a more masculine image for sustainability by tapping into the deep and motivational macho values of target audiences. While the Don’t Mess with Texas slogan called men to protect the honor of Texas, macho-ness may be manifested by other values such as:

    -Strength: emotional toughness, courage, self-reliance, aggression, and rationality;

    -Honor: duty, loyalty, responsibility, integrity, selflessness, and compassion;

    -Agency or action: competitiveness, ambition, dominance, and risk-taking.

    Some green marketers are already leveraging these macho values effectively in their advertising and product design. Tesla Motors, for example, has framed its sleekly designed plug-in electric vehicles with adrenalin-rushing speed capabilities and heart-pumping ads to appeal to the macho competitiveness and risk-taking of affluent male drivers. Likewise, Patagonia’s advertising has aligned its environmentally responsible clothing and gear with outdoor enthusiasts’ aspirations of self-reliance, ambition, and respect for nature.

    Macho Storytelling

    Narrative connects issues with values.11 It can bring abstract ideas to life. Compelling stories told again and again, or with variation, can educate and persuade audiences about their relationship to issues and why they should care.

    One popular Don’t Mess with Texas commercial in 1986, for example, showed Dallas Cowboy football stars Randy White and Ed “Too Tall” Jones trash talking as they picked up litter along the road.

    Announcer: “What are a couple of football stars doing alongside the road?”

    White: “Picking up after some folks who really don’t care much about Texas.”

    Jones: “You see the guy who threw this out the window? You let him know I got a message for him!”

    White: “I got a message for him, too (crushing a soda can with his bare hand)… I kinda need to see him to deliver it!”

    Jones: “Don’t mess with Texas.”

    The commercial conveyed all the elements of a good macho narrative—conflict between villains (litterers disrespecting Texas) and admired brawny heroes (football stars picking up trash) with a clear moral: dispose of your trash responsibly. White and Jones exhibited the masculine values of duty, responsibility, and honor with a clear aggressive warning—mess with Texas, and they’d mess with you.

    A Green Marlboro Man?

    OgilvyEarth’s study concluded that sustainability needs its own Marlboro Man—the iconic cowboy who changed the image of the once “mild as May” filtered women’s Marlboro Cigarette in the 1950s.13 Within months of his introduction, the attractive but menacingly emotionless roughneck working in the rugged outdoors transformed Marlboro into themacho cigarette brand.

    Turbine cowboys. Wind power could draw on a parallel all-American, self-reliant cowboy figure, given that wind projects are typically sited on cattle ranges in the rural heartland. Interestingly, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, who often sports a Stetson hat, has become one of America’s leading wind energy advocates. His Pickens Plan promotes domestic wind and natural gas development as economically rational and good for America, and his “army” of Pickens Plan followers has become a significant grassroots movement.

    In a related bit of irony, the big oil-and-gas state of Texas leads the country in wind energy development, and many rural Texas communities proudly promote their wind farms. Billboards by the Economic Development Corporation of Pampa, Texas, tout, “Where the wheat grows, the oil flows, and the wind blows,” and portray wind turbines alongside Texan landscape fixtures like livestock, crops, and oil derricks.

    The Weather Channel’s new reality TV series Turbine Cowboys capitalizes on the perceived riskiness of wind farm construction,16 following the path of other popular “macho job” cable programming like Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch. These programs aim at professional male viewers longing for the blue-collar perils and physical excitement of jobs that subdue nature.17 Many other green jobs have a similar masculine appeal—from construction workers retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency to drilling rig operators boring steam wells for geothermal power.

    Narratives celebrating the skill, courage, and resourcefulness of macho American cowboys and workers striving to win energy independence and freedom from despotic oil-rich nations could broaden the acceptance of renewable energy and green jobs.

    Army green. Probably the most macho of professions pursuing green is the military. Oil has long been the lifeblood of the U.S. military to move men, machines, and munitions. The recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, have exposed the security risks of such oil dependence. War-zone oil transports have become easy targets, with over 3,000 American soldiers and contractors killed in military fuel convoys between 2003 and 2007.

    Consequently, the Pentagon has launched alternative energy and efficiency measures to reduce the military’s oil dependence. A Marines combat unit in Afghanistan, for example, has been outfitted with portable solar panels to recharge electronics, eliminating the need for electric generator fuel. The Army is developing hybrid trucks, and the Air Force has been flying planes on biofuels for years.

    Retired military generals Wesley Clark and Colin Powell have become leading advocates of American renewable energy for the sake of national security and energy independence. Commercial green products inspired by military uses, such as solar-clad camouflage tents, solar-powered backpacks, and roll-up solar mat chargers, could appeal to hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Green industries could do well by honoring returned military veterans with employment opportunities building a new, more energy-secure and independent America.

    Mean, green driving machine. Probably, the most suspect of green initiatives today is the plug-in electric vehicle (EV). President Obama wants one million EVs on the road by 2015, but sales have so far been anemic and the public narrative has gone awry over “range anxiety,” the Chevrolet Volt’s crash test battery fires, and the Nissan Leaf’s wimpy golf cart looks.19 A bizarre TV ad showing a thankful polar bear hugging a Leaf owner has many viewers scratching their heads.20 The Leaf may be good for polar bears because of low emissions, but what’s in it for drivers?

    Cars are sold to reflect aspirations and personalities. To appeal to the macho heart, EVs must match beloved, traditional, gasoline-powered cars in style, performance, and name. Compared to the masculine competitiveness of the Charger or Patriot, or the sex appeal of the Viper or Mustang, names like Volt and Leaf simply don’t cut it.

    While EVs can’t rev and roar beyond the whisper of a refrigerator, marketers should focus on their macho realities. The constant torque of EVs provides for a potential acceleration punch that can best high-performance gasoline-powered cars. Motor Trend confirmed that the Tesla Roadster Sport can race from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds.21Ads showing EVs tethered to electrical plug outlets should be abandoned in favor of ads depicting aerodynamic EVs speeding past high-priced gasoline signs on the open road—an appeal to the macho values of self-determination and freedom from oil.

    Don’t Mess with Macho Dads

    As the Don’t Mess with Texas campaign illustrates, savvy message framing and marketing can encourage green actions among men who are otherwise indifferent to most environmental concerns. Many sustainability issues have ready-built macho narratives that could bridge sustainability’s gender gap if promoted effectively—think the ruggedness of Patagonia, the power of Tesla.

    Perhaps the most macho of responsibilities for men is that of being a father. Marketing research indicates that men often worry about having what it takes to be a good dad, and most men wish they could spend more quality time with their kids.22 Marketers can engage these aspirations by framing sustainable behaviors and using green products as opportunities for fathers to be role models and providers for their children.

    One path forward may be narratives portraying dads spending quality time with their children recycling cans, bike riding to the park, protecting wildlife on camping trips, improving home efficiency by installing LEDs and caulking windows, visiting solar farms, and remembering to bring the reusable shopping bag to the supermarket—even if the bag resembles a man-purse. Aligning sustainability issues with being a good dad can help men become green mentors for the next generation. Drawing on a father’s love and sense of duty, responsibility, and integrity can make green more macho.

    Macho or not, the green transition is underway.

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