The Green Tech Lessons Of Abraham Lincoln

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Greentech Advocates. Author credit goes to Steven Castle.

The word of the day is now.

If you haven’t seen Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Lincoln, run out and see it now. The movie shows how Abraham Lincoln deftly navigated the political machinery and prejudices of his day to abolish slavery, but anyone interested in selling green technologies and effecting energy-efficient change should see this film. See it to study the influential technique of not only our greatest president, but perhaps our greatest politician.

Lincoln movie

image via Dreamworks Studios

From the movie we learn that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery was not the work of a northern Congress giddy with the end of a Civil War. No white man but Lincoln seemed to want the amendment. Lincoln had to convince his cabinet of the plan, he concealed and delayed a peace proposal by the South, and he had to coax and cajole several Congressmen from the opposition party to have a chance at the amendment’s passage. Even avid abolitionists from the north had to be convinced to quell their fervor to get the job done.

What does this have to do with green tech, clean energy and energy efficiency? Lots, but the similarity lies primarily in one word. And everyone who has seen the film’s TV trailers has witnessed it, when a visibly agitated Lincoln points at each of his reluctant cabinet officers and declares, “Now! Now! Now!”

Now is the Time

Lincoln knew that with the Civil War coming to a close and a lame duck Congress, the country had a narrow window to end slavery and prevent such a war from reoccurring. He also knew that his Emancipation Proclamation would not hold up after the war’s end and could not snuff out slavery on its own. A Constitutional amendment was needed, and now was the time.

The same can now be said about battling climate change. In the past year we’ve seendroughts ravage the Midwest and Southwest, changing the climate change perceptions of many conservatives—and now the media capital of the world is examining the effects of superstorm Sandy. New York City is alert to seas that can rise 5 feet or more this century. Everything from massive storm surge gates to geo-engineering is being considered to battle the effects of global warming.

Yet as anyone who has followed GreenTech Advocates or energy newsfeeds knows, the most effective and economical way to curb the effects of climate change now and for generations to come is energy efficiency. And we have the technologies to automate it for us, in our businesses and homes, in the form of LED lights, lighting controls, efficient HVAC systems, hybrid water heaters, smart surge suppressors and power conditioners and energy monitors and energy management systems and the home and building control systems that tie it all together, creating efficiencies on top of efficiencies. All automated and controllable from our smartphones, where alerts, if needed, can be sent. We can do this without compromising our way of life—while building a booming economy. Negawatts beat megawatts, any day.

And now is the time to convince people of this. President Obama will soon start a second term and no longer has to keep mum about climate change for fear of political blowback. But Congress is still gridlocked and governed by special interests, including the powerful oil, gas and coal lobbies. So don’t count on much getting done. Don’t count on the hundreds of billions that are needed for solar, wind and renewable energies so we don’t have to burn oil, gas and coal. Again, energy efficiency is the answer. It becomes the chief way forward as clean energy alternatives continue to develop.

Now is the time for it. Now is the time for the world to embrace it. And now is the time for you to gear your business around it. Or, as Spielberg’s Lincoln would declare: “Now! Now! Now!”

Getting it Done

How do we go about convincing a world bent on energy use and now obsessed with fantastical sea gates and geo-engineering that energy-efficiency technology is the answer? We tear a page or two from Lincoln’s playbook.

Slavery was a terrible thing to do to other human beings, but there are parallels to the tyranny of Big Oil, of which nearly all of us are slaves. We must free ourselves from it, so our children can survive. Fighting climate change is, like slavery once was, the looming moral and ethical issue of our day. But Lincoln did not just approach slavery as a moral issue. Being a cagey lawyer, he also approached it as a legal issue. And that was smart.

Green technology and energy efficiency isn’t just a moral issue. It’s a business issue, and the business case for green technology is now being made. It is being made by environmentalists, who like the abolitionists in Lincoln, came to realize that preaching the moral necessity of a cause wasn’t enough. The abolitionists made equality a legal issue. We can make energy efficiency a business case. And apatriotic move. And a health issue. And more.

But now is the time. Like Lincoln, we have to know when to strike. Then, maybe each of us can be a bit more like that man who got so much done.

GreenTech Advocates is an educational and marketing resource for those selling green tech and energy management systems. We are dedicated to promoting green technologies, energy management systems and energy efficient electronics in homes and small businesses–and to helping you find ways to reach the right consumers and sell these systems.