While I have sometimes enjoyed reading Thomas Friedman, I could not help but take issue with his editorial piece concerning global warming and his opposition to the drill-baby-drill proponents who simply wish to see a secure America, which may face an uncertain economic future if world energy instability were to rear its often-seen and grotesque head.
Of Doves and Energy
History has taught us that extreme energy dependence on other countries is a practice which is fraught with ill consequences, and, like it or not, the technology that is required to power our various engines of society sans oil is simply unavailable on a practical basis as of yet. One need only take a strong and hard look at the origins of World War II to see that energy availability was one of the cornerstones of our poor relations with Japan, not to mention Japan's rampant Imperialism at the time. One has to wonder if Friedman actually thinks that we have progressed so far since those dim days of the early 40's that we have now surpassed ourselves and are above waging war over energy? I wouldn't bet on that, Mr. Friedman.
In addition , perhaps Friedman sees himself as leaning towards Conservatism, but after reading this particular article I am not quite sure what type of Conservatism that might be. The New York Times brand maybe? Trotting out and being in favor of the tyrannical measures and economic bruising that is the Cap and Trade Tax is not exactly what we would consider to be a Conservative value. As a matter of fact, those values belong more on the Liberal side of the aisle than anywhere else.
With regard to the contention that Conservatives believe in a black-plague-type malady by 2050...um...now which Conservatives would those be, Sir ? That sort of natural disaster mindset is typified by the Liberals in our midst rather than Conservatives--you know--the ones who have been raising everyone's hackles over the dreaded global warming that is coming (only to a movie house near you, perhaps, as it would now seem).
Facts Versus Beliefs
Or maybe the now "Messiah influenced inner beltway" environs, in addition to the Northeast, have been altered to the point of rebranding the entire spectrum of the Left into factions where a new middle point has now been fashioned! The extreme Marxist left is now simply moderate and the center left would then be Conservative I suppose. Further, now anything that is actually to right of the "old-fashioned" center is considered radical right wing and bears no serious consideration. (I am certain that a host of both Republican Senators and Congressman would agree in part with this hypothesis). Friedman goes on to point out that "many of us believe that it is much better for America that the world be dependent on oil for energy?" Um... It is certainly not a question of what we do or do not believe but rather a statement of mere fact, Sir, that the world is dependent upon oil for energy, and I do not see that as being good for America (unless we really start drilling).
I would have to point out that unless we can create a harness which will convert all of the hot air and misinformation pouring out of the Liberals in our government into a usable fuel source--then at least for the moment--oil is the still the cheapest and most plentiful fuel source available.
Get over it. Drill for it. Own it.
The natural marketplace forces that exist will respond appropriately as better technology and cleaner and cheaper fuels come into play. We understand that pollution is an issue--this is why we have continually more efficent cars and trucks that pollute far less. However, forcing the market to do things that go against sound business practice produces unsound business results. It's simply that simple. The financial meltdown that we are still suffering is a direct result of what happens when government meddles too deeply within a given market.
Running Water & Bean Sprouts
Friedman then points out that there are certain of those who believe that "folks in the developing world are very happy being poor--just give them a little running water and electricity and they'll be fine--they'll never want to live like us." Now what in the Sam Hill do people in other countries have to do with our energy policy for Heaven's sake? OK, I feel bad--very bad, now. Isn't that how I am supposed to feel? How dare we strive to make ourselves better when there are people suffering in other countries! (I will. now, for certain, eat all of my bean sprouts for supper.) Good Grief! We, Sir, are having enough trouble, it would seem, taking care of ourselves at this point. Are we now to be responsible for the entire undeveloped world as well?
Friedman then points out, among other things, that the world population is increasing to the point where the existing foodstuffs and energy supplies will be inadequate (to paraphrase)...therefore, Mr. Friedman, I suppose we will apparently soon start tumbling off of the planet as if it were a huge and crowded subway platform. This mindset is typical for people who spend "way" too much time in large metropolises, I suppose. The real other world in the Red States, Mr. Friedman, has plenty of room to spare. Perhaps China is growing unhealthily along with some of the other larger populations, but of late we seem to have been reading of European populations becoming stagnant to the point of regression. I supppose the world governments should all now produce legislation requiring briefs rather than boxers?
Worrying over various populations growing too large is, commonsensically, kind of like worrying about whether that hangnail you have is going to become infected and if so may cause gangrene and if so may cause blood poisoning and if so may need to be amputated and if then the blood poisoning gets into your heart you could die. (This guy ain't the life of the party, it would seem).
The Green Hawk Meets E.T.
Finally, Friedman moves into "the world is getting flatter" stage. From depression to geographical regression, it would seem. Flatter in this usage actually means people are seeing how other people (i.e. Americans in this usage) are living and wish to live that way as well. The world has always been getting flatter, to use your terminology Mr. Friedman. This is also referred to as progress by many and is actually to be sought after rather than bemoaned.
Mr. Friedman actually then states "I am a Green Hawk !" with regard to cleaner burning fuels and alternate energies..... Ok....more power to you, Sir. Do you, like, get up and warpaint your face in those green hawk colors and strip down to your waist before going to work each day? (I saw a Seinfeld episode about your type once).
Mr. Friedman continues sowing his wild Cap and Trade seeds in conjunction with Energy Technology--or E.T. as he terms it. Well, I can only point out that E.T. needs to phone home because these workable technology solutions aren't quite here yet, and no amount of ranting is going to bring them here until we have progressed far enough to make it all workable...shouldn't be long but can you exercise a little patience and show a little common sense until then please?
Friedman then actually finishes up with the following quote : "So, as I said, you don't believe in global warming? You're wrong !" Very well, Mr. Friedman, I often get tired also at the end of writing a column--they can be exhausting no doubt-- so I will end mine with a bit of (surprise!) recycling. My response to your ending remarks is very simple.
No, Mr. Friedman, according to a bunch of hoaxsters that are working in the UK and elsewhere and hiding information that speaks of a decline in global temperaures--You, Sir, are proven wrong!
( Some are confused, or just in denial...)
Barry L. Secrest
If you follow the debate around the energy/climate bills working through Congress you will notice that the drill-baby-drill opponents of this legislation are now making two claims. One is that the globe has been cooling lately, not warming, and the other is that America simply can't afford any kind of cap-and-trade/carbon tax.
But here is what they also surely believe, but are not saying: They believe the world is going to face a mass plague, like the Black Death, that will wipe out 2.5 billion people sometime between now and 2050. They believe it is much better for America that the world be dependent on oil for energy - a commodity largely controlled by countries that hate us and can only go up in price as demand increases - rather than on clean power technologies that are controlled by us and only go down in price as demand increases. And, finally, they believe that people in the developing world are very happy being poor - just give them a little running water and electricity and they'll be fine. They'll never want to live like us.
Yes, the opponents of any tax on carbon to stimulate alternatives to oil must believe all these things because that is the only way their arguments make any sense. Let me explain why by first explaining how I look at this issue.
I am a clean-energy hawk. Green for me is not just about recycling garbage but about renewing America. That is why I have been saying "green is the new red, white and blue."
My argument is simple: I think climate change is real. You don't? That's your business. But there are two other huge trends barreling down on us with energy implications that you simply can't deny. And the way to renew America is for us to take the lead and invent the technologies to address these problems.
The first is that the world is getting crowded. According to the 2006 U.N. population report, "the world population will likely increase by 2.5 billion ... passing from the current 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion in 2050. This increase is equivalent to the total size of the world population in 1950, and it will be absorbed mostly by the less developed regions ... ."
The energy, climate, water and pollution implications of adding 2.5 billion mouths to feed, clothe, house and transport will be staggering. And this is coming unless, as the deniers apparently believe, a global pandemic or a mass outbreak of abstinence will freeze world population - forever.
Now, add one more thing. The world keeps getting flatter - more and more people can now see how we live, aspire to our lifestyle and even take our jobs so they can live how we live. So not only are we adding 2.5 billion people by 2050, but many more will live like "Americans" - with American-size homes and cars, and eating American-size Big Macs.
"What happens when developing nations with soaring vehicle populations get tens of millions of petroleum-powered cars at the same time as the global economy recovers and there's no large global oil supply overhang?" asks Felix Kramer, the electric car expert who advocates electrifying the U.S. auto fleet and increasingly powering it with renewable energy sources. What happens, of course, is that the price of oil goes through the roof - unless we develop alternatives. The petro-dictators in Iran, Venezuela and Russia hope we don't. They would only get richer.
So either the opponents of a serious energy/climate bill with a price on carbon don't care about our being addicted to oil and dependent on petro-dictators forever or they really believe that we will not be adding 2.5 billion more people who want to live like us, so the price of oil won't go up very far and, therefore, we shouldn't raise taxes to stimulate clean, renewable alternatives and energy efficiency.
Green hawks believe otherwise. We believe that in a world getting warmer and more crowded, with more "Americans," the next great global industry is going to be E.T., or energy technology based on clean power and energy efficiency. And we believe that the country that invents and deploys the most E.T. will enjoy the most economic security, energy security, national security, innovative companies and global respect. And we believe that country must be America. If not, our children will never enjoy the standard of living we did. And we believe the best way to launch E.T. is to set a fixed, long-term price on carbon and then let the free market and innovation do the rest.
So, as I said, you don't believe in global warming? You're wrong, but I'll let you enjoy it until your beach house gets washed away. But if you also don't believe the world is getting more crowded with more aspiring Americans - and that ignoring that will play to the strength of our worst enemies, while responding to it with clean energy will play to the strength of our best technologies - then you're willfully blind, and you're hurting America's future to boot.
Thomas L. Friedman is a columnist for The New York Times, 620 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10018-1405.