One Man Show

I’ve never gone to a movie before where I was the only one in the theatre. I kid you not. Have you?

That happened to me this afternoon when I went to see “Who Killed the Electric Car?” at a local theatre.

It was humorous when the theatre usher came in to do his announcements (turn off the cell phones and pagers, etc.) and found only me. He complained about it being such a slow day – some of the shows didn’t have anyone! But he did a very nice job with his announcement – and I applauded when he was done. One hand clapping!

This movie’s been out for a while and it’s a holiday weekend with beautiful weather outside – so only nut cases like me could be expected to show for an early afternoon performance! Too bad – lots of folks need to see this story.

So, how was the movie?

It’s quite well done – taking apart the background behind the original California mandate for zero emission vehicles and the subsequent unwinding of that mandate by the California Air Resources Board after intense lobbying by the automotive and petroleum industries. Today, I find it hard to believe I lived in the state during all of this – and didn’t appreciate what was happening.

The movie ends on an optimistic note – lots of little David’s have been unleashed that will ultimately overcome the Goliaths. Tom Friedman wrote a column about this in the New York Times several weeks ago – about how legions of environmental entrepreneurs have been unleashed in this valley and in this country. While at the moment we’re still shoveling billions of dollars into the hands of the Saudi’s and their ilk, at home we’re hard at work on plans that will significantly reduce the importance of their natural resources. And the co-dependent automobile and energy companies who also play in this silly game need to understand that the earthquake’s already occurred.

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I met a friend earlier this week who’s been bitten hard by the saving energy/global warming bug. His brand new Toyota Prius was parked next to my Honda Civic Hybrid in the parking lot. He’s already reduced his family’s energy consumption by over 30 percent. While we were talking, a solar system design for his house was underway – likely a five or six year payback.

But payback isn’t the point for someone like him – the stakes are so much bigger. He’s worried about the world his kids will inherit from us, not the financial return on a green investment. It’s all about cutting our use of carbon-based energy and reducing the flow of our money through those co-dependent energy companies to those who end up being our enemies as they use our own money against us. You can almost feel it – we’re right at the “tipping point”.

As I came home from the movie I had to wonder why the hybrid movement wasn’t better organized. Why weren’t we all flying little green flags on our cars? Where’s Hal Riney when we really need him? “It’s a new GREEN morning in America…”

Indeed, the times they are a changin’…and it feels so right and so good. But we really do have to figure out how to TURN THE VOLUME UP!

[Update: A friend writes – see the Tesla Motors blog for real evidence of a tipping point having already been reached!]

4 Replies to “One Man Show”

  1. I like the way you think Scott. I just bought a Civic Hybrid today. Saving money was the smallest reason for the purchase. THIS was the biggest:
    “It’s all about cutting our use of carbon-based energy and reducing the flow of our money through those co-dependent energy companies to those who end up being our enemies as they use our money against us.”
    Obviously, I couldn’t say it any better.

  2. It is interesting the movie did not touch more on electrical cars being produced by innovative small companies such as Tesla Motors. Sure companies like GM and Ford have huge research and development budgets but that does not mean they have the culture to foster innovative new products (hence part of the failure of the EV1)

  3. Wow, I’m impressed that your friend was estimating a 5-6 year payback for his solar system. I looked into it last year for our house and it looked like almost 20 years. I was going to go through with it anyway until our bathroom remodel went way over budget… sigh. Anyway, I’d love to hear if your friend had any tricks for getting the return horizon down. Perhaps his family just uses more electricity than we do.

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