(Final paragraphs from Thomas Friedman's Op-Ed piece at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/opinion/18friedman.html?_r=1&em )
"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, American-size cars, 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. It has to be. 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 — combine it with the Obama team’s impressive stimulus for green-tech — 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."
While I am not convinced Obama or US government "leaders" truly see or understand what is at stake in the energy game, it was at least nice to see President Obama make a stab at some sort of clean energy initiatives with China this past week. At least he admitted in the global news conference that without the USA and China agreeing to clean up the environment, nothing will get done since those two countries alone provide about 42% of the carbon emissions on the globe.
What I really like about Mr. Friedmans model on this subject is the idea that the next great economies will come from whoever and wherever they produce new and cleaner energy. New energy is the key to surviving the coming population boom and reshaping of global populations due to climate change, famines and devastation both natural and man-made.
My step dad suggested when I was 18 and clueless that "waste management" was going to be a great industry of the future. I don't think he intended me to be a "garbage man" running around in a truck, but I have since met some people who became very wealthy by finding solutions to the growing mountains of human waste. Wish I was 18 again and looking for a future career. Energy Technology would be it.
A small update on this theme I just have to add today. A news piece I read this morning reinforces to me the theme of this blog. Sorry this article is only in Spanish...but it basically points out the irony of the energy situation here in Latin America where "el Nino" weather patterns are causing drought in many countries. Most of these country's energy is hydro-electric dependent. Because of climate change, even during the current rainy season in the tropics many areas continue with drought conditions reducing water levels for energy production. There have been blackouts in Brazil and Venezuela. The article points out the almost funny suggestions of President Chavez of how to "conserve" energy during these times by using a flashlight instead of turning on the lights when they get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. A pathetic non-response to what will be an ongoing problem in Venezuela and the world. ALL of these countries are in dire need of new, sustainable energy sources that don't count on oil or hydro electric dams. Its time for them to add solar, wind and natural gas solutions to their energy equations.