Wednesday, November 09, 2011

WyoFile: How one little ol' UW art display hurt the feelings of Big Oil and King Coal

Author, entomologist and UW Professor Jeffrey Lockwood writes in WyoFile about the collision between art and energy policy in Wyoming.

His focus is Chris Drury’s sculpture on the UW campus entitled “Carbon Sink” What Goes Around Comes Around.” The sculpture has ignited a storm of controversy within the energy industry types, who think that everyone in Wyoming should kiss their ass. We usually do, even while we type diatribes against them on our coal-fired laptops. Our state legislators are the biggest ass-kissers of them all.

It’s humorous to watch energy types and their Republican legislators tie themselves in knots saying that they really don’t want to stymie free expression on campus but can’t you please just get rid of that annoying sculpture made up of beetle-kill trees and coal because it hurts our feelings? Pretty please!

Some big energy industry funders have threatened to withhold funding from UW until it gets rid of the sculpture. There is a rumor floating around that "Carbon Sink" has caused one of Wyoming's energy magnates to withhold his precious monetary fluids from UW's funding stream. I'm searching for a name and I'll share it as soon as I have it.

Jeff Lockwood's column has some wonderful quotes. He's a few paragraphs that I especially like:
The core reality of the modern world of energy consumption is that we can’t have it all. My mother was an artist and wise woman. When people asked her to produce a calligraphic piece, she would tell them that there were three qualities in commissioned artwork: good, fast, and cheap. The client could pick any two of these. For example, if a bride-to-be wanted her wedding invitation to be good and fast, then it wasn’t going to be cheap.

The same limitations hold for energy. Pick whichever two you want, but you can’t have all three. What is good (for humans and the environment) and fast (available right now) isn’t cheap (e.g., solar home systems). What is good and cheap isn’t fast (e.g., large-scale alternative energy systems), and what is cheap and fast isn’t good (e.g., burning fossil fuels). No, you can’t have it all. Even an artist knows that.
Yes, even an artist knows that. Writers, too.

Read it all at

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