Is Fossil More Macho than Green?

Ronald Reagan chopping wood.

Why is there so much political opposition to transitioning to a green, zero-carbon economy in the U.S.?

And why are so many men, in particular, defiantly against anything that will limit or replace traditional fossil fuels (gas oil and coal) or machines that use those fuels (e.g. gas powered cars)?

Probably it’s about jobs, and all the fossil-fuel jobs that stand to be lost.

But there may be another, emotional factor at work.

Think about chopping wood, the original home heating fuel. The axe is heavy, you work up a sweat, and you’re wielding a dangerous, powerful tool. It’s something many men like to do, because of how it makes them feel. It’s physical.

Same for the sounds of your motorcycle or gas-powered leaf-blower revving up. There’s that feeling of power, physicality and the vibrations to prove it.

By contrast, green technologies are silent, self-contained machines. They operate independently, driven by software. They’re like appliances… there’s nothing really physical for a person to do aside from flip a switch or turn a knob.

There’s no oil to change, gas to pump, chains to lubricate, fuel to haul and refill, nothing that makes you feel very physical (or maybe needed).

Is this a problem? I don’t know… it shouldn’t be. But when I look at the rational objections to a green energy transition – like losing jobs – I wonder if there’s also more to it.

Disclosure: I drive electric cars and use electric lawn/garden equipment, and am just fine without all the noise, vibration, and analog physicality. I do miss hauling wood and building fires though.

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