This political campaign ad from the woman running against Mitch McConnell for a U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky reminds me of an important issue—perhaps the only important issue—driving the ultimate success of the renewable energy industry in this country: the promise of jobs.

The ad depicts an out-of-work coal miner from Eastern Kentucky, providing Ms. Grimes the opportunity to promise how she’ll put this fellow and thousands like him back to work.  Never mind that he works in what is arguably the world’s deadliest (legal) profession; the quality of the work isn’t really the point here, rather, that the fossil fuel industry claims to be all about jobs. 

They hope you won’t look into this too closely and come to understand that there are 6.5 million jobs supported by renewable energy worldwide.  That’s not a promise, by the way; it’s 6.5 million weekly paychecks.  They hope you don’t know that EnergyFactCheck.org hosts literally hundreds of articles that describe the huge profusion of jobs opening up every day in the U.S., as solar, wind and the rest continue to expand.

The fossil fuel boys are, of course, the wealthiest and most powerful industry in the history of humankind, and so it’s to be expected that they going to continue to spend some of that lucre to convince you that oil, coal and gas are the only games in town.  But ask yourself:  why are we hearing about this so much all of a sudden?

My guess is that, for the first time, they’re threatened–and it’s serious.  10 years ago, the fossil industry wasn’t spending a nickel denigrating renewables; they didn’t need to, as we were barely a rounding error.  Now, these folks are gazing in horror at some of the most critical facts—data points that become more alarming each week:

• Wind energy is close to five percent of the U.S. grid mix

• The cost of clean energy continues to plummet, and the efficiencies are rising

• Virtually every country other than the U.S. is taking seriously its responsibilities to migrate away from fossil fuels, based on concerns about climate change, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, lung disease, etc.  How long can they continue to count on the ignorance of the American people?

The handwriting’s on the wall.  So what to do?

Attack, of course.

But the renewable energy industry’s response isn’t a counter-attack per se; it’s not hysteria and lies; it’s facts and reason; it’s the truth about what is clearly destined to be the defining industry in the 21st Century, and thus the place where real job growth resides.



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