After The Great Oil Spill — Revisiting Thomas Freidman’s Hot, Flat, And Crowded

(note from Randy – I am certainly no expert in this field.  I read books, and then try to let the authors and the books speak.  This post is an attempt to let Friedman’s book speak to us).

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The news is not yet turning any better in the aftermath of the Gulf Oil disaster.  Oil continues to escape. No expert is sure, but there seems to be a growing consensus that the total amount of oil seeping into the environment is going to be greater than the 11 million gallons of the Exxon Valdez disaster – maybe much more.

Maybe it’s time to revisit a few of the quotes/warnings from Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded.  Like this paragraph:

We now understand that these fossil fuels are exhaustible, increasingly expensive, and politically, ecologically, and climatically toxic.  That’s the line we’ve crossed.
What changed?  The simple answer is that flat met crowded.  So many more people were suddenly able to improve their standards of living so much faster.  And when the crowding of the world and the flattening of the world converged around the year 2000, the world went into a track where global demand for energy, natural resources, and food all started to grow at a much accelerated pace – as the Western industrialized countries still consumed considerable amounts of energy and natural resources and big emerging countries got to join them at the middle-class dinner table.

So, this is the problem.  What is the solution?  There is no “one solution” — it will take an array, a constellation of solutions.  But, before we embrace any solution, we have to acknowledge the reality:

“Hello, my name is Randy,
We are the United States,
We are the world,
And we are all addicted to oil.”

Only when we acknowledge the depth of the problem do we have a chance to turn toward true alternatives.  (Remember, the phrase “alternative energy” is about true alternatives!)

Friedman includes this quote in his book:

“Obsessing over recycling and installing a few special light bulbs won’t cut it…  We need to be looking at fundamental change in our energy, transportation and agricultural systems rather than technological tweaking on the margins…  To stop at “easy” is to say that the best we can do is accept an uninspired politics of guilt around a parade of uncoordinated individual action…”  (Michael Maniates, Washington Post, November 22, 2007).

Our economy needs us to make money on energy in ways that are – renewable; cleaner; different..  The fish, and the people who make their living from our oceans, need no more oil spills.  Our bodies need cleaner air.  The reasons are numerous – it really is time to get serious about alternatives.

Here’s Friedman’s key quote from the book:

Green is the new red, white, and blue because it is a strategy that can help to ease global warming, biodiversity loss, energy poverty, petrodictatorship, and energy supply shortages – and make America stronger at the same time.  We solve our own problems by helping the world solve its problems.  We help the world solve its problems by solving our own problems.

If climate change is a hoax, it is the most wonderful hoax ever perpetrated on the United States of America.  Because transforming our economy to clean power and energy efficiency to mitigate global warming and the other challenges of the Energy-Climate Era is the equivalent of training for the Olympic triathlon:  If you make it to the Olympics, you have a better chance of winning because you’ve developed every muscle.  If you don’t make it to the Olympics, you’re still healthier, stronger, fitter, and more likely to live longer and win every other race in life.  And as with the triathlon, you don’t just improve one muscle or skill, but many, which become mutually reinforcing and improve the health of your whole system.

One thought on “After The Great Oil Spill — Revisiting Thomas Freidman’s Hot, Flat, And Crowded

  1. omi

    OMINOUS RESOUNDING SILENCE IN THE FACE OF CATACLYSMIC DISASTER.

    How can the scope of this ecological disaster be met with the silence of prayers- the silence of scientists and political organizations? No celebrity or world leader is willing to call for more action?

    It is time to look to our one world and one life force that unites and sustains us…

    We face challenges larger than corporate entity- larger than national pride or ego.. our home – this one earth is now facing destruction in a singular silence that is truly a crime against not just humanity- but all life forms.

    Where are the voices that could call out for the best minds and resources on the planet to come together and solve a problem that will devastate a huge piece of our planet and ecologies into the future in untold and ways with permanence that we can not yet understand.

    It would be an epic movie— saving the planet by working together, using the best and most immediate resources of the planet.. from all countries. Perhaps a script writer could stir a bit of action—but is it that the President is afraid that some other country would have the skills and tools to limit disaster in the American arena?

    Where are the religious leaders- that we are not asked to pray for creation and see our common fragility?

    God, by whatever the name

    Is saddened for sure

    And each soul shares the blame

    For a silence dishonoring the gift of the earth….

    Use your voice and your prayer
    How much power have the people of this planet given to a single company- which certainly can not pay the bill and restore the planet—? And how much power to a president who has such a national ego that his administration is selling out our planet’s future rather ask for international and immediate assistance and expertise?

    Reply

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