Guest post written by Alex Duthie from Find Energy Savings.
When it comes to putting something on the political agenda, our politicians seem to be taking a big risk with renewables. Because as it turns out – Americans are not very well educated when it comes to what all this green stuff means.
A few years ago a study into energy revealed that 40% of adult Americans didn’t know what a fossil fuel was, let alone name one. 50% couldn’t have said what a source of renewable energy might be. While it is true that times have changed and the last couple of years will have seen more public awareness of these issues – is it really enough for it to become a hot political topic?
The argument could be that politics will only offer us messages on things which they feel will win them votes. They wouldn’t be talking about fossil fuels and renewables if it wasn’t something we all were interested in – surely? Well, maybe it is just the type of voters which they are aiming for which is the point.
Those people who are poorly educated, in low paying jobs or on welfare are the least likely groups of people to vote and are also unlikely to have much interest in whether their energy is coming from a renewable source. Their main concern might be whether they can pay for it.
Political parties will aim their rhetoric at those people who are most likely to vote for them and in the US that seems to be the middle classes.
Lets face it – renewable energy versus fossil fuels is a debate which is only had around middle American dinner tables. It is a topic which politicians realize is not going to be of much interest to the average low paid, working voter, or indeed those who fail to vote in any case.
The fact that many American’s know little about this issue is more of a failure of government than a lack of interest. The government has failed to engage people in the debate by not offering the right amount of education at an early stage. An entire generation of people have missed out on energy knowledge and are unable to form an opinion.
So where is the real incentive to encourage renewables? The politicians don’t see it as a vote winner – because most people don’t seem to care. If the aim is to encourage non-voters to head for the ballots the focus needs to be on the issues which affect them directly and renewables is not one of those hot topics. The question is – will it ever be?
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