In the film Take Back Your Power, President Obama, speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board uttered these words: “Under my plan for a “cap and trade” system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” For six years, conservative politicians have pilloried Mr. Obama for that statement while accepting millions from the Koch Brothers and their climate denial machine, pretending to be advocates for the common man. Climate warming is very real – no argument there. So what’s the clip doing here, in a film which sets out to investigate the “smart” grid? The modernization of the power grid – we are told – will fight global warming through greater efficiency and boost the economy through job creation – what could possibly be wrong with that? President Obama’s now dead “cap and trade” proposal, and his current “all of the above” energy plan is all about saving the environment and is in the best interests of all Americans, right? Surely Mr. Obama’s statement is being pulled out of context by overzealous conspiracy theorists?
Context is ever influenced by our emotions, our grasp of history, and our willingness to challenge cherished beliefs. At least a small part of anyone in touch with the goodness in their heart wants to believe in the fairy tale of a black man rising up in a society with unequal opportunity for blacks (i.e. racism) and through his own intelligence, charisma, and grit, attaining the most powerful elected office on the planet. I want to believe in that fairy tale. But my deepest commitment remains uncovering truth, unfettered by emotional attachment to fairy tales, or winning popularity contests.
Mr. Obama’s suggestion that electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket in order to transition our energy economy to less polluting, less carbon producing technologies sounds reasonable on the surface. We need to discourage dirty power generation from coal plants in order to aggressively tackle carbon emissions fueling anthropogenic climate change. Absolutely. But is the “smart” grid truly a “green” efficiency measure? Or is it a thinly veiled imposition of Trojan horse technology riding in on Astroturf? According to a growing body of independent research the smart grid will in all likelihood, worsen public health outcomes due to increased levels of radio frequency (RF) waves in our homes and environment, result in Constitutional invasions of privacy due to routine collection of granular data revealing an individual’s electricity usage fingerprint, and not result in any efficiency savings. Both the Presidential fairy tale, and the supposed benefits of the smart grid begin to unravel as our questions compel us to look deeper than the press releases of utility companies, and the hit pieces they sponsor in the corporate owned media.
Consider the electoral realities: However wise, articulate, poised, and determined an individual may be, it is practically impossible to get elected as President of the United States without a vast network of political connections and money. The 2012 election cost $5.8 billion, up 7 percent from 2008 ($5.4 billion). So where did Mr. Obama get his funding? Besides Wall Street investment banks, as a lengthy article by Capital Research details, Mr. Obama’s connections to the Chicago political machine in general, and senior executives of one company in particular, Exelon, paved the way for his rise to the Presidency. Two of Mr. Obama’s closest (former) aides, David Axelrod, and Rahm Emanuel had intimate ties to Exelon. Exelon top executives have been one of Mr. Obama’s largest source of donors in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and there is considerable evidence of preferential access given to Exelon executives at the White House.
Exelon is the largest power producer in the U.S., including 17 nuclear reactors, close to a dozen of which are either identical or very similar in design to the GE reactors involved in the triple meltdown at Fukushima, Japan on March 11, 2011. The war on coal currently being waged by the Environmental Protection Agency will clearly bring increased revenues to Exelon, enhancing the image of nuclear energy as a green technology which, by this patently false logic, should be expanded in order to reduce carbon emissions and help America attain greater energy independence. One final balloon to pop: if Mr. Obama’s energy plan is really to be taken seriously as an attempt to fight rising carbon emissions and global warming – we would not be debating the oxymoron known as “clean coal.”
This analysis is not an attempt to demonize President Obama. Would I do any better if I stood in his shoes? I’m not so sure. I believe he had good intentions when he took office in 2008, but the pressure to pay back favors must be immense. Still, there are examples in the world of leaders who do not fall prey to the corrupting influence of power and money.
So much of national politics is a distraction, a side-show which has somehow taken over center stage. “We The People” are the true leaders, and the politicians are the followers. Or at least, that is the potential that exists in our democracy, when we remove the influence of money. We need to shift the dialogue away from the fallacy of voting for the better candidate in a two party system where both sides are owned by corporations – which are clearly not people despite what SCOTUS said in their ruling on Citizen’s United. We need a new story which will only happen if individuals of conscience step outside the box and question the paradigm we learned from the day we were born: to worship shiny gadgets, toys, and gizmos instead of loving relationships and a deep respect for the web of life of which we are part. We need to take back our power. Taking back our power has two meanings here: political power, which rests on truth and righteousness when it is in the hands of people and not corporations pulling strings on a puppet stage dominated by money.
It also refers to electrical power. The architecture of the nation’s electrical power grid has remained essentially unchanged, for over a century. Adding smart meters to tweak an inherently inefficient system is a decoy, a false solution which will only prop up the pension plans of a few executives until the inherent inefficiencies and vulnerabilities of centralized power production cause this industry to implode. The future of power distribution is small scale, decentralized power grids based upon renewables like solar and wind. This is clearly explained by Dr. Timothy Schoechle in this video from “The High Road to a True Smart Grid” Conference in San Francisco, January, 2014.
Everything in our world is about to change radically. These seemingly sudden transformational shifts are a naturally recurring feature of cosmic time and are not new. We can experience the shift with a sense of joy and wonder, welcoming the rebalancing of energies as we embrace the unknown future. Navigating through the uncertainty, we can rely on our innate intelligence, our wisdom and compassion, to discern the difference between truth and falsehood, health and disease, peace and war. Or we can cling fearfully onto the past which is known and numbingly comfortable. The choice is ours.
To join the movement in Seattle – visit our website here, where you can learn about upcoming public screenings of the film, Take Back Your Power. Outside of the Seattle area, to connect with others who are organizing to ensure a future of safe, healthy, affordable, renewable power, you may visit this page.
The film Take Back Your Power will be shown at Town Hall in Seattle on September 6 at 7:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Cost: $5. Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets: