When Did You First Realize What FUD Was? (1-Minute Survey)

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Many of us have had that “a-ha” moment when we realized that something we were reading, listening to, or watching that was anti-sustainability or anti clean energy or anti EV was just a bit….off. That moment when we said, “wait a minute, I know that’s not true,” and recognized that there was a motive behind the message.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) is ubiquitous. The fossil industry spends big to slow down the adoption of clean technology. It’s simply an investment — slowing clean tech means prolonging the profit of dirty tech. And since they don’t have a leg to stand on scientifically or logically, they use FUD, playing to base instincts of the human primate brain.

I first recognized it when I saw an Instagram influencer promote a post that said that some people might come visit your home offering to install free energy and water saving devices. The post concluded, “Plz do NOT let them into your homes. They are Robbers robbing people at gun-point. Plz alert all your contacts, as you may save a life.”

This was about 10 years ago. At the time, my company was employed by our local energy conservation program to go into homes and install free LEDs and other high efficiency fixtures in lower income homes and areas where the utility was trying to reduce demand rather than build more generating capacity and substations in that area. We had, at the time, gone into more than 3,000 such homes, never charging the resident a dime, let alone robbing anyone at gunpoint. This influencer was in our hometown, or so her profile said, and our company was the only residential contractor doing this type of low income and energy conservation work. I reached out to her immediately, but got no response.

At the time, there were many folks who refused to let us in, and no matter how many times we tried to tell them, “There’s no catch, it’s paid for by utility money,” and no matter how many positive Yelp reviews we had, it didn’t matter. They were gung-ho that we would never enter their home and they wanted us off their property asap. We had thought, probably drug dealers. LOL. But then it occurred to me — maybe these folks had seen this warning.

As it turned out, the Instagram influencer was not real. Probably the fiction of some Russian kid living in his Mom’s basement, getting paid to be a fossil fuel troll. And it occurred to me — that kid was slowing the clean tech revolution. Literally slowing down the reduction of fossil fuels being used by our utility.

If you think I’m a wackadoodle, consider that the same message spread community to community to community to community. How many homes missed out on free LEDs because of this message? Hard to even guess.

We know from the movie The Social Dilemma that fake news spreads fast, and then has to be offset an average of six times by truth to get the person to stop believing what they first saw, especially if they’re inclined to believe. So the FUD preyed on people who might be susceptible to this kind of thing, and stopped…a certain percentage…from doing energy and water conservation work.

So what can we do? Educate people about the many forms of FUD, how to spot it, and how to fight it.

So, if you have some experience with this of any kind (e.g., have you heard that wind turbine blades are unrecyclable? OMG, the humanity! What will we do with these things in 40 years when they’re no longer working to create clean energy!? We really ought to let that stop us from developing wind farms RIGHT NOW…face-palm), then please fill in the short survey below. We will publish some results from this and help put an end to this BS.


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Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.

Scott Cooney has 160 posts and counting. See all posts by Scott Cooney