A ‘can’t do spirit’ might be America’s biggest problem

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 20, 2021

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash


“Some people say there is a God; others say there is no God; the truth probably lies somewhere in between”
– W. B. Yeats

Change readiness is a survival skill, a core competence, for countries as much as businesses. It rests on faith and hope, a willingness to see possibilities in new situations.

As its response to the problems in Texas have shown, America is not change ready and doesn’t even seem to realise it should be.

One American media outlet has been calling the American response to adversity its “can’t do spirit”. That sounds about right.

Even as winter storms battered Texas, leaving millions in freezing cold and darkness for days on end, how did Americans respond?

They argued over the crux of the problem instead of trying to find solutions.

The electric grid in Texas collapsed and what did its politicians do?

Republican governor Greg Abbott singled out the loss of wind and solar power and claimed that “the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America”.

Dan Crenshaw, a Republican Congressman from Texas, tweeted that “Texas’s biggest mistake was learning too many renewable energy lessons from California”.

And Texas senator Ted Cruz went one worse. Unable to think of any way to help his fellow suffering Texans, Mr Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico. It was, as The Atlantic noted, both  “a failure of imagination and of political ideology”.

Instead of absorbing the lessons of more frequent and more extreme weather events as a result of climate changelonger wildfire seasons because of hotter, drier conditions, more destructive hurricanes, unusually cold weather in Texas – American politicians are arguing for a return to less green energy sources (or bailing out altogether, as we saw with Mr Cruz).

In actual fact, Texas receives no more than 10 per cent of its energy from wind turbines. And wind turbines can function in the cold, not least in Germany, Alaska, Greenland and Siberia. Wind turbines inside the Arctic Circle work at temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unlike in those exceedingly cold parts of the world, Texas doesn’t have the right kind of turbines (which don’t freeze), but perhaps this spell of extreme winter should be a reason to prepare for all eventualities?

Power supplies in Texas are neither fully winterized, nor fully connected to the United States’ two main power grids. That meant it couldn’t receive power from neighbouring states during the recent bout of extreme weather and rolling blackouts.

Texas shows the perils of running a state like a business – on a low-tax, small-government model – with a rather narrow plan that rests on the unsustainable belief nothing will ever change.