Hal Calbom: Soap Tech Opportunities

Commentary by Hal Calbom of Sustainable Media.

If the political fits and starts, climate change idiocy, and abolish-the-EPA rhetoric seem more and more like a bad clean tech soap opera, you’re right. However, this may offer a new business opportunity for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, combining the talents of both our creative and clean tech communities.

Soap Sequel. Consider this: the granddaddy of all soaps, prime time’s “Dallas,” is back on the air and, of all things, incorporating clean technology into its story line. The New York Times commented on the premiere show:

The one hilarious element is the effort to update the story. The writers have reconstituted the feuds of the second generation of Ewings as an allegory about clean energy versus fossil fuels: Bobby’s sweet, well-meaning son, Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), has turned his back on drilling and wants to develop methane hydrates as an energy source. He spends a lot of time on Skype with Chinese scientists. “I know that I can make Ewing Alternative Energies the next Exxon,” he tells his proud father.

J. R.’s son, John Ross (Josh Henderson), is, of course, a fracking maniac who wants to drill all over Southfork and will scheme, lie and connive to get his way. The two cousins clash over women as well, particularly Elena (Jordana Brewster), the beautiful, oil-minded daughter of the family’s longtime cook.

Great News. This is potentially great news for the Pacific Northwest, with our strong roots in the entertainment and production business complementing our clean tech pedigree. As the “Dallas” story lines begin to dry up like aging oil and gas wells over the weeks and months to come, local producers may wish to offer up their own titillating scenarios rooted right here in our own soapy soil.

A couple of early suggestions:

Little EV: Doing the Locomotion.” Fierce energy business rivals Klaus Kilowatt (Michael Butler — “Hey, I know it’s a BMW but it’s mostly composites”) and Lance Leaf (Rogers Weed — “My Prius has a rumble seat perfect for spooning”) battle for the affections of the beautiful, renewably-minded Sustainability Sue (Maud Daudon) as they race up and down an I-5 corridor newly festooned with EV charging stations. “Hey, parking is parking,” says Kilowatt. “My engine runs longer and quieter,” retorts Leaf. “I think I’m going to buy a bicycle and run for Mayor (Mike McGinn, as Himself),” sighs Sue.

Or perhaps a Biblical theme:

“The Ten Components.” In this updating of the DeMille classic, a nerdy God (Amory Lovins, “I really thought the role of Jesus Christ was more suited to me”) sets Clean Tech in motion on a Grand Scale, begetting a host of plagues, rivalries, hi-jinks, and revelations, with ramifications for bickering sibling rivals Cain and Abel (Dean and David Allen) and for a disconsolate Moses (Burt Hamner) parting the Red Sea yet again for an audience of by now jaded fellow travelers: “Hey, I know they call it a Sea, but it’s really just a glorified irrigation ditch to me.” With Denis Hayes and Bill Ruckelshaus leading the 12 Apostles and Tom Douglas supplying sustainable loaves and fishes: “Rest assured, my children, all my manna is locally sourced.”

Stay tuned. Further suggestions welcomed.