As greens continue to stay home in droves and let Oilbama’s skin color cover his continual betrayals, some would-be rebels are demanding that Jimmy Carter’s gesture of installing solar panels on the White House roof be re-enacted. Even the generally great Richard Heinberg is buying into this pathetically misplaced effort.
Underlying this silliness is the widely-repeated fiction that Jimmy Carter was somehow serious about altering the energy use of the United States.
In reality, Jimmy Carter has never understood the nature of the system he once babysat, and certainly never came within a country mile of trying to alter it.
Yes, his April 1977 “Address to the Nation on Energy” did contain a handful of honest observations about Peak Oil. But Carter’s proposed responses were entirely inadequate and unserious. Cars-first transportation, in Carter’s view, was just fine, so long as people reduced (by unspecified methods and degrees) the size of their vehicles. And “economic growth must continue” was a “fundamental principle.” In other words, Carter, as people knew at the time, was a pitiful and unpersuasive self-canceler. His core argument was: We face a dire crisis, and we must continue doing the things that are causing it. Talk about a loser!
Carter was equally deluded about energy itself. In his self-pitying, proto-Reaganite, even more illogical July 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech, he asserted that “the solution of our energy crisis” was lying in the ground right here at home. “We have the natural resources. We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias. We have more coal than any nation on Earth. We have the world’s highest level of technology.” So, one wonders why all those untapped Saudi Arabias had remained and still remain untapped. The answer, of course, is that they absolutely did not and do not exist, at least not in any EROEI-positive sense, despite Carter’s tortured bullshit claims.
The truth is that Jimmy Carter was a true Democrat — a prevaricating poser with low self-awareness, whose first, second, and last commitments were to preserving the existing order of things, at whatever cost required.
It’s time for us greens to stop being tricked by Carters and Obamas and start building a serious movement for eco-social reconstruction. The time for mere gestures is long gone.
And, by the way, green gesturers, roughly how much does it cost to “solarize” one’s house? Last time I checked, even a small attempt would run somewhere in the ballpark of a whole year’s U.S. median income. What percentage of the population is presently in any position a) to access, and b) to spend that kind of jack?