Commentary: 21st Century is electric and green; embrace instead of stop it

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By Wayne Dawkins
Special to the AFRO

We are 20 years deep into the 21st century. That’s how deep you need to get into a century in order to shake off the previous hundred years, in our case, the 1900s, according to historians.

For example, when the late 1800s rolled into the 1900s, Americans eventually realized there was no need for buggy whip factories; driving cars obviously replaced horse-drawn carriages.

It is 2021 and we have reached that paradigm shift.

President Biden and many Democrats now are pushing green energy and electric cars. Biden and company are also asking Americans to fund infrastructure differently. It is still roads and bridges, says No. 46, but infrastructure Biden says is also high-speed internet, 5G wireless, and child and elder care. This makes urgent sense to me, even as Republican opposition says the Biden pitch is irrational and too unconventional.

However, consider this: I remember 2013, when Americans started the year with flip cell phones. At the time I was sponsored with a dozen other professors to attend the annual Las Vegas consumer electronics trade show. We witnessed touch-screen technology on phones and appliances such as refrigerators and countertops. 

Nice, I thought. We’ll see that in the future, years from now. 

No, by that summer keypads and flips seemed to evaporate. As if a collective light bulb switched on, we all seemed to be using touch-screen smart phones. 

Flip phones seemed comical in other people’s hands.

That is what the resistance to green technology feels like in 2021. 

Right now, in commercials General Motors is dropping Hummer EVs [electric vehicles] from the skies. Yes, I said GM, that former bloated, clueless oaf company from the late 1900s. 

Instead in this authentic 21st century that company is leading the charge.

Get ready for 2023, says pitchman LeBron James

Tesla now has 80% of the EV market share. Four of the top five-selling EVs are Teslas, however Chevy Bolt, and Nissan, Audi, Porsche, Hyundai and Kia models are gaining and growing. 

GM and other automakers vow to increase market share. 

Meanwhile, have you heard about the proposed 300-mph maglev train that could take commuters between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. in 15 minutes, or, D.C. to New York in an hour? 

The Acela, the 100-plus mph train, didn’t work at first in the early 2000s, but it’s normal now. Last December, Amtrak was running tests on its second-generation 165-mph Acela.

If you think the transformation above is crazy, so is clinging to the century-old internal gas combustion engine. It’s so 1908, like buggy whips became back then. That was the year Ford Model Ts began rolling off assembly lines. Horse travel soon became a memory.

A generation ago at the end of the 1990s, President Bill Clinton promised to build a digital bridge the 21st century. Well, we’re here.

The writer is a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

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