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Fact Check: Fox & Friends Hilariously Distort Reality of U.S. Solar

Leon Kaye | Friday February 8th, 2013 | 0 Comments
fox and friends, fox news, Gretchen carlson, solar, Germany, american solar industry, Steve Doocy, Shibani Joshi, New Mexico, New Jersey, subsidies, clean energy, Scott Burger, GTM Research, solar industry, oil and gas industry

Not Fox & Facts; Fox & Friends, mind you

Early morning television news shows have long been vapid and painful to watch, but Fox & Friends takes it to a higher level. If you enjoy watching bloated ex-fraternity boys and an overly-Botox’d former pageant queen struggle to read cue cards, most of which say, “Blame Obama,” then this is definitely your show. Fox & Friends has long been a welcoming platform for a bevy of Obama conspiracies, from POTUS’ religion to the 44th president’s penchant for leaking security secrets. At least they have not yet blamed Barack Hussain Obama for flying planes into skyscrapers, but stay tuned. In fairness, at least there is a minority co-hosting the show, if you believe Gretchen Carlson’s orange hue counts her as a “person of color.”

Yesterday morning, however, Fox & Friends really stepped in it when they attacked the American solar industry. During a conversation with Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, Carlson and her co-host Steve Doocy shared some pretty incredible facts about Germany’s success with solar. During Ms. Joshi’s long rambling sentences, she claimed Germany had a thriving solar industry because “it’s a small country” and as for Germans, “they’ve got a lot more sun than we do.”

That point will shock people who have been to well, New Mexico and Germany. I’ve been to both, and when it comes to the Vitamin D factor, sorry Germany, but you are no New Mexico. And while the east coast does not bask in sun to the degree of the American southwest (obviously), New Jersey and its Republican governor, mind you, more than holds its own on the solar front.

True, the failed solar companies that received government funding is a point of concern: though put in context, subsidies the federal government has long doled out to the oil and gas industry far outreach the U.S. government’s attempts to drift to a clean energy policy. And never mind the fact that the conservation movement within the U.S. lies in the Republican Party, not the Democrats.

Besides the absurd comparisons to Germany, however, Fox & Friends’ blustery pundits just got the facts wrong. Solar in the U.S., in fact, is surging. According to Scott Burger of GTM Research:

“How’s this: More utility scale solar PV was installed in the U.S. in 2012 than in all previous years combined. Or this: Germany cut its subsidies across the board by over 20 percent in 2012 and the country still had its largest year to date (7.65 GW). You should also note how much worse Germany’s solar resources are. Or note that the solar industry has had a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of nearly 65 percent from 2007 to 2012, despite nearly universal subsidy cuts. I could go on.”

The stubborn fact is that businesses are way ahead of government when it comes to clean energy. More companies are investing in solar not because it is a token public relations ploy, but because they view it as a long term hedge against rising fossil fuel prices. And as an aside, natural gas has been no shrinking violet the last few years, and has beaten up coal yet has fallen behind wind power generation.

Of course Fox News is entitled to its conservative view points; MSNBC, after all, has made me cringe plenty of times with its liberal pundits’ whining. The reality is Walter Cronkite is not coming back anytime soon, news is a business, and shrill broadcasting is here to stay. But there is a very clear line between ideology and (first time I am using this word in 750+ articles here): stupidity.

Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost). He will explore children’s health issues in India February 16-27 with the International Reporting Project.

[Image credit: Fox News]


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