With technology playing a part in many of our everyday lives, it can feel overwhelming to constantly be alerted by notifications, messages, and daily news from around the world. Technology delivers information at such a constant rate, that this absorption is reflected into how we respond to much of what we read and hear. Thomas B. Edsall writes about how these advances in technology have offered political campaigning to communicate below the radar on social media, especially through social media, (Edsall 2020). This then allows many candidates to use falsehoods and lies in order to encourage conflicting realities amongst the public. Edsall directly relates this issue to Trump’s success in marketing provable falsehoods and an alternate reality. Laura Chinchilla, although acknowledging the good digital technologies have done for giving people a larger voice and role in politics, states that the extent of issues involving the use of social media platforms to manipulate elections and public debates, warns that it is threatening global democratization, (Chinchilla 2019).
American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
The American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an interdisciplinary organization who is dedicated to improving science, and specifically the communication of science across disciplines. AAAS emphasizes the importance of understanding across differences, they encourage both scientists and the public to familiarize themselves with different perspectives and world views. Through their public engagement, they are encouraging people to create a more comprehensive worldview in order to try to bridge the gap between scientists and the general public. A common call to action tactic used by scientists has been using facts to shock or scare the public into action, as many people saw in the film An Inconvenient Truth. This tactic may not always be the most effective because these truths can be overwhelming which may debilitate action. AAAS has started to shift that narrative by encouraging positive societal growth by giving examples and telling stories. This shift in narrative has made environmental action seem more attainable and hopeful.
Application to Green Empowerment
Many of Green Empowerment’s projects focus on providing renewable energy to rural communities living in “energy poverty” through solar micro-grids as well as wind turbines. Solar power is an effective replacement to diesel and other fossil fuels but there is still controversy surrounding this renewable energy (Reddy, 2012). One point of controversy is the effectiveness of a micro-grid in an undeveloped area that doesn’t have access to large scale electricity. Another point of controversy is that many rural communities want “real” electricity with high wattage that micro-grids are unable to provide (Fowlie, 2019). Other organizations have had trouble promoting solar power as a renewable energy that will provide the amount of power the communities need. Green Empowerment and other similar organizations that focus on solar energy can engage with the communities to ensure that each community is willing to partake in micro-grid solar energy.
Similarly to solar power, wind power is also surrounded by some controversies. Although wind power is a clean, renewable power source, there are some attributes about the wind mills themselves that are frequently called into question. The installation of windmills raises controversy in the aspect of harming aviary species, as well as the aesthetics of the landscapes in which they are installed. In terms of aviary species, there have been multiple occasions in which birds are killed by the wind turbines while they are spinning. According to Estimates of Bird Collision Mortality at Wind Facilities in the Contiguous United States, “Between 140,000 and 328,000 birds are killed annually at monopole turbines” (Loss, 2013). This has raised the question if using this renewable energy is actually clean, considering it is killing wildlife. In addition to this, the turbines are so large that the views of the locations in which they are installed, are obstructed by these large machines. Some may argue that this shouldn’t be an issue, but when these turbines are placed in spots that rely on tourism, this could potentially really harm the economy in that area, especially when it’s the main source of income. For example, a study conducted in Cape Cod found that “a sizeable percentage of Cape Cod residents (more than 40%) believe the Cape Wind project will negatively impact local tourism” (Lilley, 2010). Given the large amount of people this concerns, it is important to take people with these perspectives into account when going about projects like installing wind turbines or solar panels.
Therefore, similarly to how politicians tend to lie or hide the truth in order to create a stronger campaign for themselves, the fact that these controversies surrounding solar and wind power are not spoken of on Green Empowerment’s website can be taken in the same way. Although we really believe in the benefits of these sources of renewable energy, what Green Empowerment is posting about them is technically not the full truth, but this should not be taken in a bad way. Unlike the politicians spoken of in the articles, they are not specifically advertising lies about these energy sources, but are rather highlighting the positive aspects of what they do in order to get people to be supportive of the things they do.
Al Gore et al.. 2006. An Inconvenient Truth. Hollywood, Calif.: Paramount.
Chinchilla, Laura. 2019. “Opinion | Post-Truth Politics Afflicts the Global South, Too.” The New York Times, October 15, 2019, sec. Opinion. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/opinion/politics-global-south.html.
Edsall, Thomas B. 2020. “Opinion | Trump Is Waiting and He Is Ready.” The New York Times, February 12, 2020, sec. Opinion. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/12/opinion/trump-campaign-2020.html.
Fowlie, Meredith. “Are Solar Microgrids the Future in the Developing World?” Energy Institute Blog, 14 May 2019, energyathaas.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/are-solar-microgrids-the-future-in-the-developing-world/
Meredith Blaydes Lilley, Jeremy Firestone, and Willett Kempton. 2010. “The Effect of Wind Power Installations on Coastal Tourism,” January. https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/3/1/1
Reddy, P. Jayarama. 2012. Solar Power Generation : Technology, New Concepts and Policy. Baton Rouge: CRC Press LLC. Accessed March 3, 2020. ProQuest Ebook Central.
Scott R. Loss, and Peter P. Marra. 2013. “Estimates of Bird Collision Mortality at Wind Facilities in the Contiguous United States,” December.