Everyone old enough to remember 9/11 has a personal story of where they were and what they were doing when they found out about the attacks. It’s a hard memory to forget, right?
For me, I was a high school student on a 40-mile journey to class in rural New Mexico. In some ways, I couldn’t have been further removed from New York and Washington, DC, but I had visited the Big Apple about six months earlier. So, when our usual music got interrupted for a news break about New York, my sister and I definitely paid attention. But, after hearing the initial confused and incomplete reporting about the event, we dropped into a canyon and the radio signal faded to static.
When we got out the other side and the signal came back, the information was more clear, and we heard about planes striking the World Trade Center. Seconds later, our parents called us, telling us to turn around and head home, which we gladly did.
It may seem silly in hindsight, but when we got home one of the first things my dad did was tell me to follow him to the gas station. He had a number of gas cans in his truck, and he put two in our car, and we filled everything to the tip-top. Then, we went back and got two other vehicles, and topped them and gas cans in them up, too. While we were doing that, my mom went and bought extra groceries, along with other household supplies.
In the days that followed, it became clear that the attacks weren’t the opening move in World War III. The gas pumps kept working, groceries stayed on shelves, and the world didn’t end. But, in those first minutes, when nobody was 100% sure what was going on, we couldn’t have known that. The thing that had always been there for me and my family, and seemed like an unquestionable part of daily life, didn’t feel as rock-solid as it used to.
But, that doesn’t mean everything went entirely back to normal. In the years that followed, there was warfare, political instability, and crazy swings in gas prices. Something the political left and right could agree on was that the United States needed to be more energy independent, and that we shouldn’t be funding terrorists and their supporters with our daily energy needs.
It’s easy to misremember the original $7500 tax credit for EVs as an Obama-era program meant to combat climate change, but that’s not what it was. The roots of the plan extend back to the post-9/11 landscape when people across politics wanted alternatives to gasoline derived in part from Middle East oil. Ethanol was and is a big part of that. Interest in gaseous motor fuels, like propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) also went way up (remember the Pickens Plan commercials?). Hybrids exploded in popularity, and there was a 2005 law that provided tax credits for them. This culminated in the law enabling the $7500 tax credits for EVs, signed into law by President George W. Bush.
With this history in mind, it shouldn’t surprise readers that I got into efficient vehicles and eventually EVs despite growing up in a conservative household. Cutting back on gas expenses as a college student made sense all by itself, and I drove a Pontiac Fiero. It got me 25 MPG in normal driving, and 30 if I was careful and took slower roads to and from town. My next car was a 37 MPG Chevy Cavalier. After that, I needed something with room for kids and the ability to tow, and bought a Chevy Trailblazer instead of a larger Suburban like others in my family had (I could get 25 MPG out of it by hypermiling).
Later, I got a 2011 Nissan LEAF, a 2013 Chevy Volt, a 2018 LEAF, and now I’m driving a 2022 Bolt EUV around. Not only does this completely remove Saudi hands from my wallet, but it allows for greater personal energy independence. In the event of a major disaster, it’s even better for emergency preparedness, as I can charge my e-bikes and the car from solar power.
During the 2010s, I left conservatism. I actually believed in the small government individual rights message, but as I got more mature and got some education, I realized that conservatism really didn’t stand for those things (especially social conservatism). Admitting to myself that I wasn’t straight, and had built a family on a mix of lies and social pressure was admittedly the final straw. Today, I don’t hate conservatives and I don’t consider them my enemy, but I’m a lot happier living my own life. I get along with my ex great, the kids are happy, and I’m living happily with my wife.
After being outside of the conservative milieu for over a decade, I’m honestly baffled at what many of them have become and what they forgot.
Instead of rooting for energy independence like they did after 9/11, many of them are now doing the opposite. They’re giddily spreading lies and misinformation about EVs, solar power, and wind power. It’s so bad in some places that people fight solar projects, fearing that they’re going to suck the sunlight away. Wind turbines supposedly kill a million billion trillion birds, cause cancer, and now they’re supposedly killing whales. Battery minerals come from pure child slave labor, and images of large open-pit copper mines are substituted for where lithium actually comes from. And, did you know it’s all part of an evil communist UN plot to take Americans’ freedom of movement away? And what are we going to do with all of the batteries in the landfill after the EV dies after 30,000 miles???
CleanTechnica readers know the truth about all of the above because we fight the FUD constantly, but it still leaves me wondering what happened to some of these people after 2008. Are the images of U.S. flags and people shouting, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” all they remember from that time period? Or did I fall through a wormhole from another dimension, and they didn’t ever care about energy independence in this one?
I know many CleanTechnica readers are among the wiser conservatives who don’t fall for all the FUD, and I don’t mean anything negative toward them. But, what happened to your conservative friends, guys? Is it really a symptom of deeper anxieties, with clean technology only serving as a proxy in the battle? Or do they really believe that oil is the best way forward now?
Feel free to share your explanations for this in the comments.
Featured image: President George W. Bush signs the PATRIOT Act. White House image, oil painting filter applied. (Public Domain)
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