Today folks, let’s discuss 21st Century malcontents, anyone naysaying clean energy, clean tech or solarpunk strategies – climate change is real, the planet is on fire. What’s a malcontent? Why is it worth talking about? I’ll get into all that. First, let me take a moment to put my rant hat on.
——- Rant Hat On ——-
You are doing no one any good when you gatekeep new innovations in cleaner technology, more sustainable technology without providing a recommended solution. If you’re going to complain about cleaner technology, more sustainable technology it is your responsibility, nay – YOUR DUTY – to tell us how to make it better. If you aren’t prepared to do that, if you’re not willing to do that, then please do us all a favor and shut up.
Sorry – I hate to be stirred about this but well, I am. This comes out of twenty years spent listening to people gatekeep cool new green tech because they see potential problems in the solution. It’s almost a hobby for them – gatekeeping to prevent or dilute the progress that people are attempting to make as they create cleaner technology, more sustainable technology.
I know it’s cool to be the guy that says ‘hey you’re doing it wrong,’ but there’s a ‘missing stair’ in your social media hot take: what purpose is served by constantly telling people what is wrong with their solution? If you know so much about the problem and the solution, why haven’t you come up with a solution yet? You aren’t Noam Chomsky or Peter Finch in Network – babbling about the problem with the solution doesn’t help me – WHAT’S THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM??
Frankly if you feel you’re smart enough to point out others’ flaws, I’m surprised you haven’t seen this one for yourself.
——- Rant Hat Off ——-
Okay, sorry. I had to get that off my chest. What am I talking about? I ran across a response to one of my mastodon toots (not linking it – they’re not worth the attention) celebrating a new innovation in sustainable jet technology. 21st Century Malcontents line up to dunk on imperfect clean energy technologies and dilute our attempts to mitigate climate change.
As far as the technology goes – yeah, we get it: it’s imperfect. Is it the last solution we’ll ever need? Of course, not. But progress is being achieved toward the goal of making our world more sustainable – that is worth celebrating every single day.
So you can imagine my frustration when the response to this celebration is to say, ‘hey they’re not doing enough. It’s not a complete solution.’ Don’t you think we already know that? Is there a purpose being served, elbowing in your way to the front of the conversation so everyone is forced to listen to you point out the flaws? Some people might say yes, but those people are solving the problem at the wrong level. They’re ignoring the very real need for cleantech / greentech solutions to be front and center of everything we’re innovating in the 21st century.
We Aren’t Looking for Unicorns, People
Greentech and cleantech face a challenge never seen in the first and second Industrial Revolution, even the digital revolution: Malcontents. You know them – cranks who clog up social media complaining about masks during COVID, or posting ‘All Lives Matter’ memes. Were they really bad actors we could ignore, or were they surfacing genuine concerns we should pay attention to?
You know the rest. Sociologists attribute America’s failures to cooperate in mitigating COVID-19 to our culture of ‘rugged individualism.’ The answer is far simpler – an ancient problem in the 21st Century: Malcontents. The dissatisfied; discontented – a malcontent is a person who, when not satisfied with current conditions, refuses to engage but refuses to yield. We’ve got a planet full of these cranks in 2023. It’s going to be a huge problem until we deal with it.
If the First or Second Industrial Revolutions happened in 2023, we’d still be riding horses and wagons to market. If social media existed in the 19th and 20th centuries, malcontents would have destroyed Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine for ‘killing jobs.’ They would have cancelled Henry Ford for developing an assembly line in Detroit. Marie Curie would have dropped all her atomic research after receiving death threats because ‘a woman’s place is in the home.’
Progress Happens Progressively
Do you see where I’m going with this? All human progress has happened progressively, iteratively. Sometimes it means embracing ideas that make no logical sense (Looking at you, people who rejected Esparanto). Our duty, as humanity works to save itself from its pollution-induced fate, is simple. If you’re complaining about cleaner sustainable technology, it is your responsibility – YOUR DUTY – to tell us how to make it better.
Yes, we’ve got a planet-sized problem in climate change. 21st Century malcontents aren’t helping us figure out how to solve climate change or champion solarpunk solutions. If you aren’t prepared, or willing to do that, then please do us all a favor and shut up. The world has enough misery due to malcontents. Don’t be part of the problem.
Thanks for listening. I know that finding 21st century solarpunk strategies to champion clean tech and clean energy is a slow, frustrating process – it’s easy to turn into malcontents. However don’t let them turn you into the problem. We’re going to get there together, and these new technologies need all the love and support they can get.