Eco/Energy Stunt Writing

27 Aug

Good review/critique in The New Yorker this week (“Green Like Me” Aug 31 issue) about a few recent “stunt” books touching on things like how to live a more ecologically and environmentally aware lifestyle. “No Impact Man” is about a guy and his family who decide to give up stuff like electricity and toilet paper for a year. Another book, “Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet” is about how the writers spend a year eating only food grown within a 100 mile radius of where the live, in Vancouver.

Although The New Yorker piece is mainly critical, taking the books to task for their overly gimmicky premises and lack of depth, they still sound pretty cool.

And it made me wonder about my angle in “Renewable.” Do I have a “gimmick”? Do I need one?

I don’t think I have a gimmick or stunt so much as a pretty simple series of propositions: 1. It’s a good thing to be informed about renewable energy because within the next several decades energy as we know it is going to change dramatically; 2) It can be hard to be really informed because there’s a lot of hype and misinformation out there, and because a lot of the science stuff can be boring and dry; and so 3) I’ve set myself the task of finding out what’s really going on by going to wind farms and solar farms and algae biofuel operations and other places where renewable energy technologies are being born, to see them for myself and meet and learn about the people making them happen.

That’s it, more or less. And the more I look into these matters, the more I realize that this stuff is happening all around, both in hot shot labs on the coasts and right in my own hometown in south-central Indiana. It’s a story as much about individuals doing things on a small scale as it is about the big money and big corporations and famous scientists.

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