‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade stands as one of the most famous English-language historical poems. It also could be stated as one of the most infamous as well.
Memorializing essentially unthinking actions of those blindly caught up in an archaic technology and archaic approach to warfare, the poem immortalizes a Crimean War charge of a British light cavalry brigade — armed with sabers — against a well prepared Russian artillery position. In short, 17th century warfare confronted 19th century technology and — beyond wounded and dead British soldiers and cavalry horses — the result is a heroic poem about an utterly stupid act.
While this poem resonates with many about heroism, the reality is that it is as much — if not more — about unthinking blind obedience to stupidity. With this in mind, it seems ever so poetic that advocates of 19th century energy technologies have adopted the moniker “Light Brigade” as their tag-line for counter-protests against those seeking to foster adoption of 21st century energy systems to confront 21st century challenges and seize 21st century opportunities.
This coming Sunday, at the Washington, DC, rally against the Keystone XL pipeline, these fossil fuel pollution promoters will be wearing bright yellow shirts with an assertion that those advocating for sensible energy policies are advocating blackout conditions putting aside that better energy management, energy efficiency, power storage, and renewables are providing an ever greater portion of the answer to America’s — and humanity’s — electricity requirements with every passing day. These yellow fossil fuel promoters won’t, it seems likely, discuss how coal has dropped from over 50 percent to under 35 percent the U.S. electricity list without any blackouts occurring due to coal’s more limited role in the U.S. electricity grid. They won’t talk about how solar and wind electricity have more than doubled in the past four years. They won’t talk about how, electron-for-electron, new wind power is now cheaper than new fossil fuel electricity in most places in the world. They won’t talk about how solar electricity prices are plummeting, very much like happened with computing technology as production ramped up. They won’t talk about health and particulate and climate change and other costs that blacken the benefits from their fuels of choice. These yellow fossil fuel promoters will be stating lots of “facts” but not discussing much truth.
As an excellent example of the distorting nature of their fossil-foolish propaganda, the “light brigade” propagandists will be focusing on electricity at a protest which is about liquid fuel. Hmmm … perhaps someone should remind them of the vast divide between the transportation energy system (liquid fuel) and electricity.
Just as the Light Brigade’s soldiers went heedlessly into battle, pitting archaic technology against modernity, this pollution-supporting ‘light brigade’ is thrusting itself forward advocating yesterday’s technology to attempt to forestall movement forward to tomorrow’s. And, just as the British Light Brigade went unthinkingly into battle almost 160 years ago under orders from above, one has to wonder whether those willing to put on these yellow shirts are questioning who is pulling the strings and where the funding comes from to pay for their threads and back their deceitful messaging.