I recently heard a US Army General deliver a compelling talk about the importance of getting fuel to the front line of battle.  Fuel powers our jeeps.  Fuels powers our helicopters.  Without fuel on the front line, our military effectiveness grinds to a halt.  We need to ensure the presence of fuel at the front of battle so we can continue to fight.

The next four speakers continued the discussion. Their primary points revolved around the main General’s idea.  We need green technologies to help solve the fuel problem.  We need to find ways to eliminate fuel so the problem goes away.  We need to resolve the fuel problem. 

It was perfectly clear.  The General wants electric helicopters.

We were a captive audience.  There were hundreds of us, sitting there absorbing all this free advice for ways to grow our businesses.  After all, these are important problems that the government needs solved. 

The problem is that the General never said, “fuel is the problem.”  The General explained that fuel is essential to moving our vehicles.  It is a problem if we don’t have enough fuel.  This is a logistics challenge: not a fuel challenge. 

Did the General misspeak?  Not at all.  His actual message was perfectly clear.  Did the staffers misrepresent?  Not intentionally.  If we reduce the General’s words to a sound bite; if we remove all of the complicated explanation; if we don’t pay attention for long enough; if we don’t listen carefully – we end up with “fuel is the problem.”

After all, it seems right.  We’ve been hearing this message all our lives.  We’ve been trained, biased, and propagandized to hear this message.  “Dinosaur juice won’t last forever.”  Regardless of the narrative we are trained to hear, we must always listen carefully. 

Electrics vehicles are awesome, but when we are unable to get charging stations to the front lines, what will we do when the next well-meaning staffer tells is that “power is the problem”?