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June 14th, 2010
Many of the issues we face with renewable energy and clean tech in general are technological problems, but I would argue many more of them have to do with framing the issues and convincing people to change. Technology won’t do it by itself, the adoption and change of behavior will be the hard part.
We can learn a lot of lessons about framing from our reaction to the crisis in Haiti, and the change in terminology from global warming to climate change, both worthless terms. These may seem like tiny, trivial issues but they’re not. Something I always hear from engineer types is ‘sales is easy’. Bull, if you put them out in the wild they wouldn’t be able to give solar away. I believe that convincing people to do something is very, very hard.
We can see this with how environmental, political, and business groups have tried to sell clean energy to the American public. It’s like a huge experimental with each group trying to figure out what will work. To the environmentalists its saving the world, to republicans it can be energy independence, to business owners it’s innovation and growth, to VCs is the trillion dollar opportunity that dwarfs the internet boom.
Our real challenge seems to be figuring out how to frame the issue that unites everyone.
If we’re certain about one things its this, the US is rapidly falling behind other regions in the development of clean tech, that includes, water, waste, energy, you name it. A few weeks ago Stephen Lacey from Renewable Energy World published a podcast called “The Next Great Global Industry” (ps- if you don’t already listen to the Inside Renewable Energy podcast by Stephen Lacey, you should, it’s awesome) where the guests near the end of the podcast described the phenomenon.
Here’s my question to you: what’s the best way to sell this to the American public?
In my perspective, we could use many frames, but the question is which one or ones will be most effective. If we just split the world in two, the ‘save the word’ part would convince the hippies and environmentalists, while the ‘beat china’ would cater to the replication crowd. Shhhhh, here’s the secret, whatever you choose leads to the same answers, MORE CLEAN TECH INVESTMENT!
I’m curious, what do you think is the best way to sell this?
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