April 7, 2020

Athena Bi

Last month, I had the pleasure to represent Energize Delaware, at two events. The first was the Lights On – Delaware Strong press event in recognition of the program expanding into the West End neighborhood of the city. The second was the 2020 Delaware Youth Environmental Summit held at DelTech Dover Campus. You might guess that I am going to describe the contrast between youth-led climate action and adult-led community action with two radically different experiences. If you think we are going to explore the conflict of opinion you are correct; but, not between young and old.


Overheard at the Lights On event:
Speaker A: “I used to be a policeman and when it comes to deterring crime at night, it’s always about the presence of lighting.”
Speaker B: “How could lights protect me?”
C: “The light is free!”
B: “You expect me to pay for the electricity to keep the light on?”
C: “The annual cost of the light is only 2 cents.”
B: “Do I have to install it myself?”

Overheard at the YES Summit event:
Speaker D: “Do you know about the regional greenhouse gas initiative, or how carbon cap and trade works?”
Speaker E: “No, I don’t know about those programs.”
D: “We put a cap on emissions from the power plant and charge a per-unit fee for their overflow.”
E: “Why are we still allowing coal-powered plants to operate? We should be eliminating greenhouse gases, not trying to make money from it.”
D: “But to eliminate greenhouse gasses, we need investment funding to convert power plants and vehicle fleets to sustainable sources. The money needs to come from somewhere.”
E: “You are not creating the cleanest energy.”
D: “Still, we are deploying the cleaner energy solutions that are also affordable.”


Why is sustainable energy a controversial idea?

These two dialogues may seem unrelated, but they share the same nature of conflicting opinions. They reflect the often-common disagreement between the staunch defender of the status quo and a real voice of change. I believe both characteristics can co-exist in everyone. However, we don’t notice these things often because we either define ourselves with one of them or switch between them freely. It has nothing to do with age, race or gender.

Working in the field of climate change, I have run into plenty of clashes between believers and deniers. Sometimes, the dialogue can be quite passionate. Imagine a conversation between a well-educated and qualified climate change expert and a coal production executive. You’ll get a sense that changing an opinion is not easy, especially when that idea impacts livelihood or identity. These opinions are often tainted by leverage, influence, power, age or knowledge. Therefore, it’s going to be an ongoing effort to inform every one of the realities of the crisis of climate change, and the need to take personal action. Even if it’s just one step at a time.

Engage with Us and Express Your Opinion

The conversations are shown here, actually demonstrate promising engagement. I don’t believe a single conversation is enough to trigger behavior or a belief change. That’s why my colleagues and I would like to start our blog/Vlog and build our own dialogues on renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable energy development, and climate change. The blog is an invitation to you, our readers, to voice your opinion and join these conversations. Let’s act now to the best of our ability to foster a sustainable Delaware and world. We encourage you to engage your coworkers, families, and friends to search for a better, cleaner and brighter future for Delawareans.

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