Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Stepladders and Thermometers


The great mystique associated with change is the fact that change, as confusing, dynamic and overwhelming as it may appear, is really quite ordinary. Within that confusion is of course chaos. Within chaos is dynamic tension and within that tension is the overwhelming nature of the change that is causing total upheaval. None the less, change is ordinary, always anticipated and expected. We are going to change it’s as simple as that. The reason we are going to change is that it is ordinary, anticipated and expected. Even though that change is confusing and causing dynamic tension which at times appears to be quite overwhelming in nature, it remains ordinary, anticipated and expected.

So what is the problem?

The problem is that some change is more confusing, dynamic and overwhelming than other change. Whereas all change creates dynamic tension and the greater percentage of change can within the ordinary response to change be easily managed, when change is magnified it becomes less manageable. And so is the story of our America today. Living in a nation on the verge of investing in the most advanced industrial structures we have ever created, living in a nation of potentially high level and advanced socio-economic dialogue that is wholly associated with extraordinarily magnified change, that change, because it has been put off for so long, is that much more overwhelming and equally more difficult to realize as a result. Even though multiple generations of Americans have both envisioned and anticipated the broad spectrum of change we in our nation are now confronting, the fact that one generation’s responsibility to embrace that change was hopelessly argued about and therefore not at all realized only frustrates the forward progression of change all generations must now discipline themselves to embrace.

The extraordinarily magnified change I am speaking of is solar energy. As ridiculous as it may sound, a contraption invented in the 1950s, evolved in the 1960s, evolved further in the 70s, 80s and 90s has unfortunately become the invented contraption of our collective social unrest. As it is has as well become the collector and processor of and responder to our greater national urgency to once and for all free ourselves from that social unrest, the solar collector, the remarkable little instrument in a box that captures the rays of the sun and turns those rays into clearly tangible forms of 21st century national economic prosperity has, through excessive and redundant argument, been held hostage to the fear of change for so long that we as Americans have successfully produced for ourselves an excuse not to confront that fear. Overseers of a wholly static industrial economy that is as incapable of moving backwards to celebrate the accomplishments of our 20th century, we are equally incapable of moving forward to characterize the solar collector as the instrument that enables us to celebrate the greater potential of our collective, multi-generational 21st century industrial dream.

While all of this might sound a little too philosophical, the fact remains, our US economy sits idle due to needless argument just as the energy inefficient homes we own sit as constant economic reminders of our failure to resolve that argument. Having been viewed initially as the inventions of those with overly imaginative if not altogether bizarre anti-oil green minds, solar collectors just as wind turbines and a host of other 21st century green technologies have today quite unfortunately been placed into the smaller realm of protective politics that can be perpetually argued when in fact they have always represented the larger realm of progress that thrives only when perpetual argument is replaced with proactive public policy.

A solar collector is the invention of a nation. Because it and wind turbines and the systems that manage geothermal and biofuel energy sources (among many others) are the invention of a nation, ultimately it is the responsibility of that nation to incorporate the technologies represented by these multiple inventions for the greater fulfillment and greater ownership of that nations greater industrial potential. As every home in America is more or less equipped today with a natural gas meter and electric meter owned by a public utility charged with managing the costs of the utilities these meters monitor and as a solar collector is a national public utility invention, what within the realm of protective politics is preventing the solar collector (and many other renewable energy technologies) from becoming the natural extension (s) of what is clearly a public utility grid wholly incapable of supplying the nation with not only a renewable source of energy, but a renewed approach to managing what has always been in our country, a vast array of both renewable and non-renewable energy sources? In turn, what within the realm of protective politics is preventing America’s leadership from embracing the proactive public policy that if put into place on a national scale would produce a diversity of industrial and economic growth never before witnessed by mankind?

As within the context of ordinary American conversation today, one would be hard pressed to find any American that does not have a fairly thorough comprehension of alternative energy technologies, why is it that within the realm of protective politics, none of this technology resides within our nation’s ordinary American marketplace? Why is it that proactive public policy remains hidden, isolated and wholly diminished?

Protective politics is our reaction to extraordinarily magnified change. In as much as we have collectively been acquiring a vast array of new technological information over the course of several decades, we have done so within the vacuum of protective politics. Within that vacuum, the evolution of fossil fuel technologies has most certainly kept pace with the evolution of green technologies. Yet, with virtually every expert from a wide variety of industries whose focus is essentially the profitable harvesting of an equally wide variety of either earth based, air or wind borne fuel sources, each industry remains locked into the singular protective political ideologies that supposedly protect a singular industry from being devoured by another seemingly opposing singular industry. Within the consciousness of what we conclude to be extraordinarily magnified change however, is ordinary, anticipated and expected. And, within what is ordinary, anticipated and expected is the obligation we have as a nation to do what is expected of us for us.

Solar energy is not an odd and isolated air borne commodity, it is instead, a universal day to day occurrence that can only be partially harnessed. Much the same as wind energy, solar energy simply occurs. Because it does and because it does so in both consistent and inconsistent weather related patterns, regardless of the geographical region of its occurrence, its dependability and that of the wind can and must be looked upon as a wholly valid and most clearly renewable “master commodity”. Within the context of this title however must be the realization of its consistent and inconsistent nature. And, within the context of its nature, the industries that thrive from the technological management of its multiple (in) consistencies should clearly be put into place throughout our United States of America.

Unfortunately, the harvesting of both solar and wind energy has been placed into the same traditional industrial harvesting categories as oil, oil shale, coal, timber harvesting, hydroelectric, natural gas, etc. If it’s windy in California, we’ll build windmills. If it’s sunny in Colorado, we’ll build solar farms. If it’s in abundance somewhere, we’ll harness it and ship it somewhere else. As solar and wind energy are actually in abundance everywhere and all other industrial categories are not, perhaps within our protective political ideology we are overlooking the larger proactive social and economic dialogue that should embrace the holistic harvesting of solar and wind (and many other) renewable energy sources.

As you are reading this essay and are hopefully fascinated by its evolution, I want you to take a break from it for a moment. Regardless of where you live, regardless of what time of the day or night, I want you to go outside. Before you do, please gather up a lightweight stepladder, a clipboard and two thermometers. Once outside, place one of those thermometers at the southern base of your home’s foundation while placing the other at the northern base. Leave the thermometers in place for fifteen minutes and while waiting, take the time to sit in both of the areas where you placed the thermometers. As you sit there, write down how you feel about both of these areas on your clipboard. Once you have done this, note the temperatures on the two thermometers.

Next, leave one of the thermometers in place on either the north or south side of your foundation and place the other inside of your house in approximately the same location as the one you have left outside. While doing this, again take the time to sit in both of these locations and note how you feel while noting as well the actual temperature registered at both locations. Leaving the outside thermometer in place, take the inside thermometer back outside and place it beneath the eave of your home directly above the one that remains at your foundation’s base. Again, spend time in both of these places and note how you feel while noting as well the temperatures on the two thermometers. Once you have done this, take the thermometer you placed beneath the eave and place it on the surface of the roof directly above the eave. Again, as you do this, take the time to jot down how you feel and of course, note the two temperatures.

As you can continue this process and in doing so document the actual temperature of your home and the varying weather conditions you feel while circumventing the entire architectural footprint of your home, you will come to notice two very distinct realities. The first of course is that no two thermometers readings will be the same. The second is that you will have experienced a variety of climatic changes that affect the way your body responds to both the inside and outside environments of your home.

When you think about this for a while and do so within the mindset of a 21st century environmental engineer who also happens to be a shareholder in a solar panel company, another company that manufactures the interface technology needed to coordinate the communication between the solar panel, natural gas meter and electric meter and yet another company which is a micro-public utility provider, and, still another company that manufacturers low voltage landscape lighting, emergency egress interior lighting and task specific lighting for arm chair reading either inside or outside of your home, something quite obvious begins to occur. What occurs is that you find yourself an investor in a host of 21st century advanced technology manufacturing companies whose primary focus is interfacing the naturally occurring solar and wind currents that create the forward thinking and healthy environment of your 21st century home with the micro-utility grids established by 21st century municipal power companies that are linked to regional power companies that are in turn kinked to national alternative energy utility grids that are in turn linked to national, regional and community fossil fuel utility grids.

After you have done all of this, take the stepladder, the clipboard and the two thermometers back inside and continue to read this essay. As you read, consider the fact that while we in America are experiencing extraordinarily magnified change, change is ordinary, always anticipated and expected, particularly if you want your 401k to assure your long term financial security in what for all practical purposes has the distinct possibility of becoming a thriving 21st century common sense based industrial economy.

The Blue Collar Industrialist


M. Patrick Dahlke

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