Thanks, The Energy Collective, but no thanks

I cannot waste my time counting how many cut-and-paste e-mails I receive, and usually I just junk them, but I thought this one seemed sufficiently personalised to actually respond to it.


from Energy Collective
to jo abbess
date Fri, May 27, 2011 at 2:29 AM
subject You Are Invited! Blog With The Energy Collective

Dear Ms. Abbess:

…I am…at The Energy Collective (TEC). TEC is a pragmatic anti-carbon, tech-agnostic blog that aims to stoke the discussion on climate and energy solutions by bringing together the smartest climate and energy bloggers on the planet. We are at about 70k hits per month, and growing quickly. Our users are smart, engaged, energy professionals located all over the world, but concentrated in the US.

I stumbled over your blog, I think through Twitter, and am delighted by it. I like your straight-forward, unflinching writing style, as well as your lack of tolerance for climate deniers. I would like to invite you to blog with us at The Energy Collective. The deal here is a trade: you grant TEC permission to syndicate selected posts from your RSS for free, and we post, promote and leverage your content to get it in front of as many eyes as possible. We strive to create as much value as possible for our bloggers, and often offer contract writing opportunities, chances to participate as experts in our webinars, free or discount conference access, professional connections, and more.

Please check out TEC here. Let me know what you think! I’d be happy to chat if you have any questions.

Sincerely,


from jo abbess
to Energy Collective
date Fri, May 27, 2011 at 9:59 AM
subject Re: You Are Invited! Blog With The Energy Collective

Dear…,

Thank you so much for your interest in my commentary. I’m glad it reached through to you in a meaningful way.

I also appreciate your offer of mutuality in propagating views and opinions over the Internet.

Pleased as I am to be asked, I cannot accept your offer. The reason is that The Energy Collective is financed by Siemens AG :-

http://theenergycollective.com/about

I have nothing against Siemens as an engineering enterprise. Years ago I worked doing Information Technology contract services for Siemens.

Siemens is a great company, with a human focus, and excellent decision makers at the helm in every sector and every country.

Siemens is not swayed by ridiculous arguments from economists – Siemens knows the value of good engineering and long-term asset building. Siemens has a long-term plan to stay in business, sustaining itself and its workforce; making it a valuable part of every industrialised nation it operates in.

The problem for me is that Siemens is a part of the current energy system, an energy system that exploits increasing amounts of fossil fuels to the detriment of the planet and its people.

I cannot associate myself with an engineering company that continues to underpin the fossil fuel industry. It would be tantamount to supporting the business plans of BP, Shell and ExxonMobil, and the rest, to work or volunteer for any company that does fossil fuel energy engineering.

I hope you can understand my ethical predicament and accept my apologies for refusing to participate in your venture.

To a fully renewable future,

jo.


from Energy Collective
to jo abbess
date Fri, May 27, 2011 at 2:12 PM
subject Re: You Are Invited! Blog With The Energy Collective

Hi Jo,

Thank you for your response. I do understand. And I admire your resolve.

Would it cause you to reconsider your decision to know that Siemens has no power, at all, in our editorial process? They have no say. We assert full editorial independence, and publish work from and about their business enemies, and work that is critical of them, and work that is in their favor. We publish what our users submit.

It’s true that they sponsor the site. The value we deliver to them is the chance to associate their brand with high quality dialogue on issues that relate to their core business. We are not their marketing channel. We are obsessive about being transparent about our relationship with them.

As you know, Siemens is an enormous conglomerate. However, it is distinguishable from the supermajors you mention. While they have divisions that enable engineering for fossil, they do not retail fossil commodities, and they have divisions that are ushering in some of the most innovative renewable technologies of the future- wind, smartgrid, efficient lighting, emobility- what I would argue is their ‘core’ business. I am not trying to sell you on them- obviously, you are deeply familiar with the firm. Just to say … that your work is excellent, and it deserves the visibility TEC could give it. I have attached some traffic comparisons from Compete.com to demonstrate this effect. The high point on that chart is a day TEC got 40k hits and hundreds of shares in social media outlets.

Could I persuade you to run a test-post, see how it does, and after that see if you still prefer to avoid Siemens than participate in our forum?

Cheers,


from jo abbess
to Energy Collective
date Fri, May 27, 2011 at 9:15 PM
subject Re: You Are Invited! Blog With The Energy Collective

Hi…,

Thank you for your considerate response.

Thanks also for sending me the web hit traffic statistics. It reminded me that popularity, success and “fame” are not important to me. I prefer to speak my mind in its entirety rather than join or fabricate a bandwagon. I am a communicator, but I am not a campaigner. I don’t need the whole world to read me, or sign up to my ideas.

I am a kind of phenomenologist – trying to follow the principle of mutual observation – a self-selecting few from the entire world join me in observing what is happening in climate change and energy. I take people to the gallery and they stand and look at the oil paintings alongside me and we form a collective commentary – a democratic, group activity. This is not strictly non-competitive, but it is not meritocratic. It is heterogenous engagement with the issues, not dictatorship of thought. I may be a leader, but I am a friendly guide, not an authority.

Although I do not search for glory and public acclaim, and I don’t think it’s important to impress millions, my reputation is however somewhat important to me, and that includes my freedom and independence, as well as my perception and level of accuracy. I think that energy and climate are such important issues that I have to steer a course that’s obviously and demonstrably non-aligned.

I argued against my network joining in with Climate Week in the UK, and my reasoning was about “greenwash” – it only takes a small budget to influence public opinion through astroturfing – and warm, fuzzy feelings of approval of what a company says it will do don’t necessarily have to be translated into real change, when the aim was just to seek happy customers.

From what you say, I think that The Energy Collective is trying hard to keep “religion” and “state” separate – an analogous situation. However, the “About” blurb on your website indicates the “thought leaders” from Siemens have access to the front page – which means it could be said the executive officer hand is still on the ideological tiller.

Some may call me “unhinged” for avoiding a tie-up with a profit-making energy corporate entity, so related to my aims, but the dangers of any kind of selling out is constantly in view when it comes to companies. Look at what happened this week in the USA – corporations will be legally permitted to spend any kind of money they like on their favoured political candidates. Where does that leave American democracy, exactly ?

In general, I make a living by doing paid work outside the energy and climate arena, in order to keep my position “pure”. I haven’t actually considered which organisation I could join where I could make a real difference on climate and energy, with no danger of compromise. I might have to consider that in future, I don’t know.

In the meantime, I am following a slow road of mutual enlightenment, shining my light on things that interest me, sharing with people who come to similar interests. With time, I expect people to realise that I’m telling and reading the situation fairly correctly, but they will only see that when they have done the thought work for themselves. I’m not going to try to shout anyone down with high volume web hits. I am most honoured when I write or say something that someone holds onto, and goes on to repeat it to others, and it comes all the way back round to me, and they don’t even realise I said it first.

A lot of what is happening truly annoys me, as a systems engineer. There could be so much more efficiency in the decisions and plans that human societies are making in regards to energy investment, and adaptation/mitigation on climate change. People say they believe in cost efficiency, but are wasting money left, right and centre. People say they want better functioning infrastructure, but they pour away energy like it’s going out of fashion. Globalisation has become a damaging force, because of the energy and raw resource inefficiencies. The economies are suffering from multiple profit centre bubbles bursting as sources of real value collapse. Many human beings are living unresourced, unhappy lives, despite the energy and resource riches others enjoy. Many, in both the Global North and Global South, are virtually slaves, and their gradual impoverishment is destroying human civilisation. Climate change and a loss of access to energy will hurt most. The most important thing is to steer away from chaos.

To join my voice to established voices could mean that I appear to accept the current way of managing the world. I do not. Business as usual is destructive. Politics as usual is baby steps, compromise or running to stand still. Development as usual is not eradicating poverty. Africa deserves renewable electricity, but that’s not going to come from World Bank hydropower schemes. Many things must change to avoid chaos, including the entire energy production and supply system.

Here’s working for change,

jo.


from Energy Collective
to jo abbess
date Fri, May 27, 2011 at 9:31 PM
subject Re: You Are Invited! Blog With The Energy Collective

Hey Jo,

Alright, but keep us in mind if you ever change it. The traffic stats I quoted weren’t to put down you or your site at all. Rather, I was pointing to the fact that we could help more people access your work and not for your benefit, but for theirs. Keep in touch.

Cheers,


My conclusions :-

1. They incorrectly attributes an emotional response to me – I did not feel “put down” by their mailing me web traffic statistics.

2. They probably didn’t read all of what I had written, judging by the quick reply.

3. My suspicions are possibly validated – The Energy Collective could be more about disempowering or neutralising independent thought through “stabling” or “corralling” rather than creating a platform for non-corporately “owned” or “branded” voices.

2 thoughts on “Thanks, The Energy Collective, but no thanks”

  1. Jo,

    Stumbled across your blog whilst checking out the Energy Collective – who looked like a “ringer ” to me from their content – Geoffry Styles latest offering nearly had me choking on my own vomit (http://theenergycollective.com/geoffrey-styles/59892/how-do-renewables-and-oil-sands-affect-energy-security) the line “However one views the potential environmental consequences of the steps necessary to achieve such an outcome … …are a stella result” – to praise a potential 38% reduction in oil imports by using tar sands finally drove me to check them out – thanks for the heads up

    good result is that i’ve found your blog!!

  2. I am disappointed that you took my emails to you, which in good faith I’d assumed were private, public without my consent or any forewarning. I am also displeased that while you edited your own personal identifying information out, you did not show me the same courtesy. Please remove my personal information immediately. I consider this very unprofessional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *