It’s Easy Being Green

George W. Bush doesn’t get it yet. But renewable energy is no longer the stuff of noble visions and pipe dreams: It’s available, inexpensive, and increasingly — normal.

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The more i surveyed my new car, the happier I got. “New car” is one of those phrases that makes Americans unreasonably happy to begin with. And this one — well, it was a particularly shiny metallic blue. Better yet, it was the first Honda Civic hybrid electric sold in the state of Vermont: I’d traded in my old Civic (40 miles to the gallon), and now the little screen behind the steering wheel was telling me that I was getting 50, 51, 52 miles to the gallon. Even better yet, I was doing nothing strange or difficult or conspicuously ecological. If you didn’t know there was an electric motor assisting the small gas engine — well, you’d never know. The owner’s manual devoted far more space to the air bags and the heating system. It didn’t look goofily Jetsonish like Honda’s first hybrid, the two-seater Insight introduced in 2000. Instead, it looked like a Civic, the most vanilla car ever produced. “Our goal was to make it look, for lack of a better word, normal,” explained Kevin Bynoe, spokesman for American Honda.

And the happier I got, the angrier I got. Because, as the Honda and a raft of other recent developments powerfully proved, energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy are ready for prime time. No longer the niche province of incredibly noble backyard tinkerers distilling biodiesel from used vegetable oil, or building homes from earth rammed into tires, the equipment and attitudes necessary to radically transform our energy system are now mainstream enough for those of us too lazy or too busy to try anything that seems hard. And yet the switch toward sensible energy still isn’t happening. A few weeks before I picked up my car, an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the Senate had rejected calls to increase the mileage of the nation’s new car fleet by 2015 — to increase it to 36 mpg, not as good as the Civic I’d traded in to buy this hybrid. The administration was pressing ahead with its plan for more drilling and refining. The world was suffering the warmest winter in history, as more carbon dioxide pushed global temperatures ever higher. And people were dying in conßicts across wide swaths of the world, the casualties — at least in some measure — of America’s insatiable demand for energy.

In other words, the gap between what we could be doing and what we are doing has never been wider.

The complete version of this article can be read in the July/August issue of Mother Jones, available on news stands now or through our online single-issue purchase feature.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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