Oprah gained weight — and confused the public about renewable energy

If I weren’t on vacation, I wouldn’t have read Oprah magazine. No really. But then I would have missed a piece of misinformation gratuitously foisted on her readers.

For her legion upon legion upon legion of fans, the big news is the O has recently been losing her battle with weight [ — one legion does not do her empire justice. Turns out a Roman legion isn’t that big, just a few thousand fighters. Who knew? In any case, Oprah is now bigger than ancient Rome. No, I don’t mean physically — give her a break, it’s only 40 pounds, and she’s under a lot of stress and has a thryoid problem to boot. But I digress]. Even legions have their limits in certain fights.

But for clean energy advocates, it is a single sentence buried deep in the magazine that should be a source of distress:

Environmentalists live for the day we will discover a fuel source that is naturally replenished.

Sigh.

It’s bad enough such nonsense gets peddled by fossil fuel companies and conservatives, but by Oprah?

Of course environmentalists, unlike the editors of O, know that we already have a bunch of fuel sources that are naturally replenished, like wind, solar PV, solar thermal baseload, geothermal, and efficiency (see “An introduction to the core climate solutions”). They were discovered many, many centuries ago and then turned into modern technology decades ago and have become cost competitive in recent years, even without a price for carbon dioxide that reflects its harm to humans.

What is especially annoying is that the misinformation is completely gratuitous, part of a page on “five out-of-the-box approaches to change a habit, a mindset, or the way you think about change”:

The Green Light

Environmentalists live for the day we will discover a fuel source that is naturally replenished. In a personal way, each of us is literally standing on our own wellspring of renewable energy — our feet. All we need to do is get them moving. According to research, regular exercise not only alleviates fatigue but is invigorating. So dreading the effort you’ll expend at the gym or sweating to exhaustion is misguided; instead, look forward to the renewed energy you’ll gain. If you’re a die-hard exercise hater, try just walking 30 minutes three times a week, suggests Woodson Merrell, MD, chairman of the department of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and author of The Source. “It’s like plugging into a power grid.”

Now that is the most unintentionally funny mixed metaphor of the month. Walking is like plugging into the grid! No, Dr. Woodson Merrell, chairman of the department of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and author of The Source, walking is the exact opposite of plugging into the grid. It is like going off the damn grid, and, oh, I don’t know, walking somewhere!

My wife says that complaining about the obviously unintentionally uninformed first sentence in this O piece will make me seem like a curmudgeon. Seem? I told her she needs to read my blog more. Oh, snap!

Still, I like the magazine’s main headline. It should be a very common one in the not too distant future if we don’t stop catastrophic warming: “How did I let this happen?”