From pathology to representation

Yesterday, while speaking at the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner, the sitting US President had some interesting things to say about wind energy. As you can watch for yourself on C-SPAN or many other places, he said:

  • “if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations: Your house just went down 75 percent in value”
  • “they say the noise causes cancer”
  • “it’s like a graveyard for birds. If you love birds, you’d never want to walk under a windmill because it’s a very sad, sad sight. It’s like a cemetery. We put a little, we put a little statue for the poor birds. It’s true. You know in California, if you shoot a bald eagle, they put you in jail for five years. And yet the windmills wipe ’em all out. It’s true. They wipe ’em out. It’s terrible.”

He previously told a story about how upset a wife would be that she could not watch TV because the wind was not blowing and how susceptible wind turbines are to damage at times of war. I am uncertain which is more disturbing; the POTUS spreading falsehoods and inaccurate information about renewable energy as we cook our planet burning fossil fuels, or the people attending who hoot and applaud. One thing is becoming more and more clear, years from now when scholars and humanity reflect back on the Trump presidency, his pathological lies and false claims are likely going to be the central pillar of what people remember. There are many sites tracking and documenting all of it in an effort to challenge dishonesty, and many are closing in on 5,000 false claims to date. With attacking wind energy, it is easy to reconcile his position due to sour grapes of his lost Scottish lawsuit about the impact on offshore views at his golf course, how he is engrained with the coal lobby, how wind impacts his hair, etc. Other lies are easy to tie to his ego or ‘art of the deal’ negotiating. But many of his lies and baseless claims seem to lack a clear motivation; like why does he repeatedly say his father was born in Germany when his birth certificate clearly shows he was born in NYC? Imagine if the CEO of a company behaved in such a pathological way.

This truly is an embarrassing time for America and while the POTUS and his lies are a contributor to that, the real root cause is corruption and lobbying money in politics. Regardless of which party you align more closely to, hopefully you agree that it is time to shift to a country for and by the people as we are very far from that. Check out https://represent.us/anticorruption-act/ if you want to learn more. This bottom up effort and the wins that are happening at the local and state scale are mildly inspiring.  Hopefully some day people look back on the late 1900’s and early 2000’s and wonder why we let this happen and applaud that we made a course correction by getting the money and corruption out of politics.

Ikea revisited

In 2013 I blogged about (and tainted) Ikea for their lack of environmental sustainability. They recently joined a growing list of companies who are upstaging governments and have pledged over a billion dollars to help fight climate change and they are making numerous steps to improve their business practices which were previously lacking. Ikea Chief Sustainability Officer, Steve Howard, has been given the latitude to assemble a team to make real progress and improvements. The key to validating improvement on most things is to measure it, make educated decisions on where to apply effort, apply effort, and re-measure. That is the simplistic approach Howard is taking and he is the first to recognize it is an iterative process. He discussed this in part at his TED Talk.

Where some companies seem to talk sustainability for marketing purposes, Ikea’s commitment is genuine. In 2014, 42% of their total energy consumption came from renewables. With over 700,000 solar panels installed on Ikea buildings and a commitment to own and operate 224 wind turbines, they have quickly outpaced their competitors. They are well on pace with core things like water and energy conservation but more importantly have taken serious stock in obtaining materials from sustainable sources. In 2014, that was 41% of their wood and 75% of their cotton as examples. They are also shifting their portfolio of products to help home owners be more sustainable.

Recognizing that ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’, I hereby approve shopping at Ikea again if you are unable to re-purpose or salvage something.