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Charge of the (dirty) Light Brigade

February 15th, 2013 · 5 Comments

‘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 Fossil Fools Daydistorting 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.

Tags: Energy · climate delayers · climate zombies

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gail // Feb 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I think it is a good idea to call out the fools. I don’t see it as feeding trolls. In fact I would like to know who’s who behind those think tanks you linked to. They should be named and shamed.

  • 2 John Egan // Feb 16, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Not exactly sure who is the Light Brigade here - - or Don Quixote - - or William Jennings Bryan.

    Suffice it to say that Wash Post Keystone polling shows a 3-1 margin supporting to opposing among all who registered an opinion - - 2-1 among Dems.

    You seem, consistently, to miss two critical factors in the political economy. First, fossil fuels are nowhere near being phased out. 80% of total U.S. energy consumption comes from fossil - - 2% from wind/solar. And your cherished nuclear only accounts for 8.5%. The remainder is roughly split between hydro and biomass - - which is burning.

    The real revolutionary energy shift is towards natural gas. I was thought it foolish to use NG for baseload generation rather than topping; however, given the prodigious quantities of gas available, I would rather see it used for baseload than flared. At $3 + change per mcf and roughly at such a price for the next decade or more, no other fuel will be able to compete - even coal.

    Second, you consistently fail to recognize the local and regional components of energy production and developpment. North Dakota communities have a new set of problems with the energy boom, but few would trade them for the empty Main Streets of a decade ago. Google “Marmarth” and see. In a nation with high unemployment, the real unemployment in the oil/gas patch is zero. Where are those promised jobs in wind?

    I would like to see a more sane energy policy emerge; however, to deny the political and economy realities on the ground only paints your position into a corner of meaninglessness.

  • 3 In honor of the Lite Brigade and science denialism // Feb 18, 2013 at 9:43 am

    [...] poem below comes from a post by Greg Laden and refers to a group of hapless fossil fools that provided a tiny (10-15 person??) presence at Sundays #ForwardOnClimate rally in Washington, [...]

  • 4 Charge of the Lite Brigade – Greg Laden's Blog // Feb 18, 2013 at 11:58 am

    [...] the Climate Science Denialists, which in the US overlaps considerably with the Tea Party. They wore yellow jackets and called themselves “The Light Brigade.” This follows the tradition of the Tea Party, who in their early days used the nickname [...]

  • 5 John Egan // Feb 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Speaking of tiny - - -
    35,000 is likely twice the number.
    And even if - rather puny.

    A mid-level blurb in the Guardian.
    Almost nothing on CNN and the networks.
    Should make Obama’s decision a cinch.

    You guys don’t even understand basic political tactics.
    When you only have a pair of fives,
    you don’t push all the chips into the pot.

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