Na­tional power through green power

The Covington News - - Business - By Rachel Oswald

Amidst all of the de­press­ing news about the state of the econ­omy, it can be tempt­ing to push con­cerns about cli­mate change and en­ergy in­de­pen­dence to the back­burner for the time be­ing. This would be a colos­sal mis­take warns best­selling au­thor Thomas Fried­man.

In his lat­est book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revo­lu­tion and how it can Re­new Amer­ica,” the New York Times colum­nist makes the case for a “green revo­lu­tion” that he says is the key to re­new­ing Amer­i­can com­pet­i­tive­ness and jump­start­ing the econ­omy. Us­ing the same ac­ces­si­ble writ­ing style that made his pre­vi­ous books, in­clud­ing 2005’s “The World is Flat,” so pop­u­lar, Fried­man makes the case for an enor­mous na­tional in­vest­ment in en­ergy tech­nol­ogy by draw­ing on his un­der­stand­ing of pop­u­la­tion growth fac­tors, the rise of the mid­dle class in In­dia and China, petro pol­i­tics and cli­mate change.

And he does a good job of it. “Green is not sim­ply a new form of gen­er­at­ing elec­tric power. It is a new form of gen­er­at­ing na­tional power — pe­riod,” writes Fried­man.

Fried­man ar­gues con­vinc­ingly that so­lu­tion to restor­ing Amer­ica to the in­ter­na­tional gold stan­dard for ex­cel­lence in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy is a mas­sive pro­gram to de­velop al­ter­na­tive en­er­gies and to over­haul the na­tion’s elec­tric­ity grid to en­cour­age greater en­ergy con­ser­va­tion.

By be­ing the lead­ing na­tion that other coun­tries must come to buy newly de­vel­oped en­ergy tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts and ser­vices Fried­man be­lieves Amer­ica will en­sure that it re­mains the leader of the pack go­ing for­ward.

“ The

coun­tries

that in­spired and in­vented the big so­lu­tions to the big prob­lems of the past led the eras that fol­lowed. And those coun­tries that failed to adapt fell by the way­side. In this En­ergy-Cli­mate-Era, Amer­ica has to make sure it’s among the for­mer,” says Fried­man.

Ac­cord­ing to Fried­man, hu­man­ity has just be­gun a new era — the En­ergy-Cli­mate Era — that is de­fined by two pow­er­ful forces — global warm­ing and soar­ing global pop­u­la­tion growth — that have lead to a planet that is, as the ti­tle of the book says, hot, flat and crowded. The five main prob­lems of this era are the grow­ing de­mand for ever scarcer en­ergy sup­plies and nat­u­ral re­sources, a mas­sive trans­fer of wealth to oil-rich coun­tries, and their petro dic­ta­tors, enor­mously dis­rup­tive cli­mat­e­change, en­ergy poverty in the Third World and the rapidly ac­cel­er­at­ing loss of bio­di­ver­sity as more plants and an­i­mals be­come ex­tinct at record rates. While there are cur­rently 6.7 bil­lion peo­ple liv­ing on the planet, that num­ber is pro­jected to in­crease to 9 bil­lion by 2050 — a jaw drop­ping in­crease of 40-45 per­cent. Never be­fore has our species re­pop­u­lated at such a rate. Much of this pop­u­la­tion in­crease will be in In­dia and China, coun­tries that have a rapidly grow­ing, ed­u­cated and tech-savvy mid­dle class that will no doubt clamor for the same nat­u­ral re­sour­cein­ten­sive life­style ex­em­pli­fied by Europe and the U.S.

All the more rea­son to hurry along the process of mov­ing to­wards a global econ­omy cen­tered on an ide­ol­ogy of sus­tain­abil­ity and not con­sump­tion. Amer­ica must lead this change says Fried­man or else In­dia and China and other de­vel­op­ing na­tions will see lit­tle need to con­serve them­selves when the big­gest glut­ton of nat­u­ral re­sources on the planet feels lit­tle need to do so.

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