Now that I am back from a whirlwind of a trip to both the American Petroleum Institute/Chevron event at Stanford and WINDPOWER 2008 in Houston, I can take some time to sit back and reflect on all of the stuff I learned, the good folks I met, and the many excellent discussions I had. In doing so, I am struck by some of the broader implications of what I saw and learned. And I'd like to share those with you now:
- The irony of traveling from the one event to the next was not lost on me at all. Big money is being spent in oil, and big money is being spent in wind. Both industries are doing there best to maintain a hold on their piece of the tax-incentive pie.
- The public relations challenge facing the oil industry is quite different from the one facing the wind energy industry. The oil industry is increasingly having to take a defensive posture as gas prices are on the rise, and fossil fuels are being demonized by the general public as the primary drivers of our rapidly changing climate. The wind energy industry, on the other hand, can afford to be on the offensive side of an aggressive, forward looking public relations campaign, as public opinion is swinging in favor of renewable energy development.
- Both industries require massive amounts of natural resources and fossil fuels to make them work. The irony of "clean energy" is that much of its production requires dirty inputs (steel, copper, concrete, silicon, etc.)
- A green collar job one day might be a blue collar job the next. Miners, steelworkers, drillers (onshore and offshore), linesmen, don't necessary look at the color of the collar on their shirt, they focus on their own work - and finding more of it.
- Finally, I was quite impressed with the level of respect the bloggers were given at both events. Whether it was coming from economists, scientists, industry big-wigs, public officials, or journalists, there was a genuine interest in what we do and why we do it. This is further evidence to me that bloggers are making waves in the dynamic world of media and advocacy. Individuals and institutions are becoming increasingly aware that bloggers are playing an important role in shaping public opinion in the sphere of clean energy and the environment- and that is pretty cool.
**Again, thanks to the American Petroleum Institute and American Wind Energy Association for providing travel support to both of these events.