I am excited by the Green New Deal, but as I begin to engage with it I am seeing the same old patterns that I have seen a dozen times. I have to chalk my pessimism up to a manifestation of human nature that may be at the root of our shortcomings as a species - greed and ego.

The ego part has to do with what people are willing to consider. I have encountered no end of obstacles from "petty bureaucrats" and activists who fall into the mindset that because of their position they have superior powers of intelligence and authority and have developed such a fixed concept of what needs to be done that no innovative ideas can penetrate their reality - yet they are the gatekeepers for what is allowed to happen. One of the major examples of this is related to PV electricity production. Don't get me wrong, I like PV, but it is the 'one and only' for many activists and all other energy concepts are not only ignored but usually argued against as if there is only room for one solution. For instance, we have a successful and prominent regional group called New Energy Economy. About a year ago they began a campaign called 100% Renewables. I attended a local roadshow for it and pressed the point that there are many kinds of renewable energy and it would help the campaign to be broad based. I pitched cellulose insulation from locally recycled cardboard, improved integrated energy management systems for buildings, and of course biochar+energy systems. These are all things that we do and we can (and do) reduce building energy demands by 75% with the first two, and heat buildings while making money and sequestering carbon. Those things need to be done before engineering a PV system as there is no point in spending more than is needed... thud. So I suggested that the only burden that my renewable options would put on their organization is for them to give us space and a link on their pretty good website... thud. As of today they are raising millions to fight coal-fired power plants and they have completely forgotten anything that I told them, and don't reply to my emails.

On the greed side, what NWP referred to is definitely a factor and we have stayed under the radar - whether mostly by accident or intent is debatable. I do take issue with the idea that universities are the primary source for innovation. Here's an example of that: we have developed a continuous process pyrolyzer that has been designed to integrate into the real world constraints of rural forestry settings. The 'community system' is much bigger than just the equipment - it involves a cradle to cradle integration of forest management, existing small wood products harvesting and processing operations, community energy needs, and community use for the biochar. We built a prototype lab scale unit for NM State University to use in research on developing a char optimized for the filtration of an aquifer that was polluted by Apollo Mission rocket fuel spills. A few months ago I saw a national news article that Cornell University just unveiled a competing unit of about the same capacity that they developed over five years with a $5 million grant. The difference? Theirs would fill a semi trailer - I could haul three of ours in a pickup truck - and ours cost $25,000. What do you think the Cornell folks will do when they find out how badly they have fared against some guys working in a barn in New Mexico?

The lesson there is that money and prestige attracts the money and exposure. I would like to see an enlightened Green New Deal that has the wisdom to cut through the horseshit and get the support to the genuine grassroots problem solvers. The trouble is, the folks who understand this and have the experience and vision are not the politicians, the bureaucrats, the successful activists, or associated with the monied class.

So I am at once excited and depressed by the sparking Green new Deal movement.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller