Tom Friedman on the "Green Energy" Communication Challenge
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
Here's what Friedman said (full transcript of interview):
That's what the book is about. The problem is the term "green" was really owned by its opponents. To name something is to own it. The people who named it "green" named it a "liberal, tree-hugging, girlie-man, sissy, unpatriotic, vaguely French!
What I'm out to do in this book is to rename green. Geo-political. Geo-strategic. Geo-economic. Innovative. Competitive. Patriotic. "Green" is the new red, white and blue. Because this is all of those things. To conservatives, I say, "Look, this book is a plan to make America stronger, more energy and nationally secure, more competitive and entrepreneurial, more economically healthy and more respected in the world. (Oh, and by the way, all that stuff Al Gore talks about? We'll take care of that as a by-product!) To liberals and "greens" I say it's a plan to make America greener. (Oh, and by the way, all that stuff Dick Cheney talks about? We'll take care of that as a by-product.)
I'm doing it because I honestly believe this is an issue joining both of those things. It not only does it intellectually, but it must. Because if you don't -- if "green" is owned as a kind of Birkenstock-wearing hippie wine-and-cheese-eating issue and isn't seen as an issue about national security and growth and making American stronger, healthier, more competitive ... then we'll never have scale. Until you have scale on this issue, you really have nothing.
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