Working at CEDF & Living With Cognitive Dissonance
By Diane Reynolds
It is NOT easy being green. Every day I wake up to cognitive dissonance. The climate is warming, clearly caused by us, and nothing can get through Congress. We have a huge need for renewable energy rebates and subsidies and we spend gazillions on 2 minute TV attack ads in political campaigns. Carbon dioxide effectively can be regulated but we don’t do it because “It’ll kill jobs” when we know it won’t.
And then there’s my personal cognitive dissonance. Year after year I’ve wanted solar on my roof. Year after year I’ve told myself “I can’t … yet”.
Oh, I’ve done what I could. I’ve buttoned up. I heat 99% with biomass. I take the bus and limit my driving trips. I am clothed in thrift-ware. I recycle and compost. I clean with the green and orange. My clothes dry on racks. My small donation checks arrive at the World Wildlife and Jane Goodall’s Gorilla Funds. And I use, as my coworker says, the “curly” light bulbs.
But there it is…..month after month….my electric bill. And it’s not much. It’s just me and the cats and I severely limit their electricity joyriding. But it could be zero. Even better, it could be me sending power to the Powers That Be.
It came to a head, though, two years ago. Since beginning my job with the Clean Energy Development Fund, as you can imagine, the cognitive dissonance became deafening. Reviewing renewable energy projects meant that on a daily basis I saw others taking the steps I knew I needed to take. Processing invoices for rebates through the small scale program became intolerable. Every day I thought about my obligation to get panels up on my roof. And every day somehow my mind pushed back…not yet….you can’t yet.
We don’t have the money, do we? I didn’t. Or, didn’t believe that I did. Any financial advisor worth his or her salt would have confirmed that. Funds are needed for student loans and then college for our children and then for retirement. It is frivolous at any time to spend those needed thousands on solar panels.
I used that argument too. It’s sensible. But at some point I just couldn’t live with the dissonance. I understood what was going on… that there will always be something more financially pressing than solar on my roof.
So, I made it happen. There’s lines of credit and there’s the sale of assets. It is a step out in faith. It is a belief in the abundance around us.
I installed a modest system. It generates just enough power to cover my consumption. But it’s easily expandable. I can add panel upon panel, one at a time, when I am ready.
I feel such gratitude for what the planet and the universe have given me. I have hiked in the mountains, swum in the oceans and laid in a field at midnight to watch the shooting stars. I love the swishing sound the wind makes as it rattles birch tree leaves. I wonder at the sight of the tiny feet of a bright orange newt I cup in my hand. I am always cheered by the busy happy noises the chickadees make darting back and forth from my feeders. Day after day after day the earth freely delivers exquisite beauty and wildness to the doorsteps of our senses….and the resources to support life.
I have never been happier than the day my solar panels were installed on my roof. I encourage everyone to not suffer with the dissonance as long as I did. It’s still not easy being green, but for me, being green just got a whole lot quieter.