“What’s the matter with 60 Minutes?”
That was the question asked by many, after the program on Sunday aired what has since been slammed as an inaccurate portrayal of the cleantech industry.
Besides the fact that the piece made no mention of climate change — which is one of the stronger arguments behind cleantech — the report largely passed over the recent explosive growth in wind power, solar power, LED lights and electric vehicles.
But it’s not like 60 Minutes wasn’t told about the recent major successes in the clean tech industry. Robert Rapier, Chief Technology Officer at Merica International, was interviewed by 60 Minutes, and spoke to them at length about cleantech’s many successes. But the only comments included were ones about cleantech investor Vinod Khosla, who CBS asserts is “known as the father of the cleantech revolution” (he is not).
Rapier spoke with ClimateProgress on Monday about what got left out of the interview. Some of the answers below were edited for clarity.
See all at Climate Progress.
It was a sorry sight to see last night as Leslie Stahl made the case that somehow the Chinese were benefiting from tax-payer funded start ups, implicitly saying the Chinese were doing something wrong, and that government –read tax payer– funding was misguided. She said nothing about US VC reluctance to invest in clean -tech, or what pathology keeps them focused on tomorrow but not next week. This follows a number of other dubious shows — which suggest to me that a libertarian, if not tea-party troll is at work inside the once great show.
Update from The Nation:
“I’m exhausted,” claimed 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl on Sunday, as she ticked off a list of clean energy companies that have failed in recent years.
What’s really getting exhausting is the amount of shoddy reporting that has aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes in recent weeks, from a retracted account of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi to segments on the National Security Agency and Amazon’s drones that were more infomercial than news.
The latest hack job is “Cleantech Crash,” a report on the green technology sector. Stahl claims that cleantech has become “a dirty word,” and highlights a handful of failed companies to suggest that private and public investment in renewables has led to “ a string of expensive tax-funded flops.” The report is anecdotal, and ignores key evidence in favor of handwringing about wasted taxpayer dollars.
Update from Joe Romm at Think Progress /Climate
For those who want the facts of the cleantech boom, a good place to start is the DOE report:
- In 2012, wind was America’s largest source of new electrical capacity, accounting for 43 percent of all new installations. Altogether the United States has deployed about 60 gigawatts of wind power — enough to power 15 million homes.
- Since 2008, the price of solar panels has fallen by 75 percent, and solar installations have multiplied tenfold. Many major homebuilders are incorporating rooftop panels as a standard feature on new homes.
- In that same five years, the cost of super-efficient LED lights has fallen more than 85 percent and sales have skyrocketed. In 2009, there were fewer than 400,000 LED lights installed in the U.S.; today, the number has grown 50-fold to almost 20 million.
- During the first six months of 2013, America bought twice as many plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) as in the first half of 2012, and six times as many as in the first half of 2011. In fact, the market for plug-in electric vehicles has grown much faster than the early market for hybrids.