Rifkin bashing, open government, and saving the world collide in SA

Hardberger's vision for Mission Verde has entered choppy waters.

Greg Harman

[email protected]

First things first. I may not agree with Councilman John Clamp about the proper place of cheeseburgers in a post-GMO society, but I like the man's commitment to bringing transparency to CPS Energy. No other councilmember has openly taken the powerful step of crafting their tenure around opening the quasi-secret society to public inspection. So, on that front: Kudos, Clamp!

On the topic of Jeremy Rifkin, however, we are of opposing minds.

Battered, brilliant, and doing-quite-well-for-himself Jeremy Rifkin (right) is the Chicago-reared child of a plastic bag manufacturer who today is all-but assured a place in the energy progressives' pantheon as one of the chief architects of what he calls the Third Industrial Revolution.

It can be a confusing term, considering it was co-coined by economists in reference to the 00's massive reliance on offshoring jobs. Easier just to call the development of carbon-free renewable energy technologies as “Saving the Planet.” In that history, if we have one, Rifkin will have his spot.

Generally, this transition is not only moving from the old-school centralized utility model of enormous, polluting power plants belching out feeding tubes to powerless consumers to the democratized, “distributed” energy model that turns every home into a potential mini power plant. It is about the technology we use on those rooftops.

Now, I hate to stereotype, but would it surprise you any if the folks who have been studying, advocating, or facilitating the implementation of these new pollution-free technologies may also happen to also be aged hippies? That they may have objected to carpet-bombing Vietnam with Agent Orange? That, perhaps, they are anti-beef?

For these apparent sins (and others besides) Rifkin has been tarred-and-feathered by the lunatic thugs of the established money interests operating the Center for Consumer Freedom: (a “neo-Luddite,” “anti-technology,” and “pseudo-intellectual”?)

That's a lot of hostility out there. If you're interested in seeing who is really behind the smears, check out SourceWatch's profile of the CCF (whose roots reach right back to our friends at Philip Morris), hosted by the Center for Media and Democracy.

Had I known these critiques had the potential to reach a level higher than absurdity locally I would have staked them in the heart faster in this week's story.

When you recover from the Rifkin-bashing, keep in mind that the City is not hiring a lone Rifkin with a Coat of Many Sustainable Colors to dazzle us in New Energy BS. We've retained Rifkin and Team. And that team, his Global CEO Roundtable, has miles of credibility in tow.

According to Mission Verde, it includes sustainability leaders drawn from IBM, Siemens,

Philips, GE, Alliance to Save Energy, GridWise Alliance, US Green Building Council, CH2M Hill, and Solar Energy Industries Association.

That said, Clamp's concern about transparency has relevance. When he saw last week's agenda contained Mission Verde items that should have gone through a committee process first, he balked. So did Councilmembers Lourdes Galvan and Sheila McNeil, initially.

The Council had the option to vote the matter up at their precipitating B Session the day before, but they didn't. Now bad feelings have sprung up that aren't likely to be placated easily. Will the Mayor's office start to tone down its Verde aggression to achieve better Council buy-in?

What will better create a firmly sustainable city, having Verde voted through in three months or a Council and public deeply educated and committed to our new energy realities?

Can we achieve both?



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