Thursday, June 29, 2006

Get Big

If I must cram myself into a tiny, restrictive box with regard to my political affiliation, I'd say I'm a "geo-green." Politics, power, social change, freedom of speech, it's all there. According to New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman (author of The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty First Century), these folks believe that:

"...going forward, if we put all our focus on reducing the price of oil - by conservation, by developing renewable and alternative energies and by expanding nuclear power - we will force more reform than by any other strategy. You give me $18-a-barrel oil and I will give you political and economic reform from Algeria to Iran. All these regimes have huge population bubbles and too few jobs. They make up the gap with oil revenues. Shrink the oil revenue and they will have to open up their economies and their schools and liberate their women so that their people can compete. It is that simple."

So from this standpoint, by interjecting knowledge of basic laws of thermodynamics and biology and geology and sociology into every facet of our politics, we can counter some of the most pressing issues facing humanity. That's a pretty broad brush, and has profound implications. In the end, it comes down to money.

I didn't fall in love with The World is Flat, believing some of the premises exclusionary of the energy equation. His basic economic theory foreseeing a future of Chinese and Indian technological dominance didn't in any way discuss the inherent problems in making all these things happen, the real estate development, the raw materials acquisition, the powering of the millions of new vehicles and roads and condos and airplanes.... It was too simplistic. The pace of growth in these places isn't feasible for any sustained amount of time. Or is it? Maybe this new geo-green thing is simplistic as well, although it's getting a lot of backing from the Apollo Alliance and the Save America Coalition. Capitol Hill is abuzz, as is Silicon Valley and churches in the Bible Belt. It's really interesting to see evangelical conservatives siding with liberal environmentalists and former political hawks and military generals. My father called me yesterday to tell me he just got cable internet, but while setting it up my mother was watching Oprah and she had the global warming episode. He went out last night and bought enough compact fluorescents to change out all the lights in their house. My father doesn't believe in global warming, is devoutly religious, and thinks we'll run out of oil before the price kills demand. He owns a Chevy V8 pickup, but is looking at electric scooters as around-town transport.

I love all the attention the subject is getting, but as Friedman said on his Charlie Rose interview "It's still a boutique thing, it doesn't scale." [[watch video]] Smart folks out there with lots of ideas and/or money to toss...get behind the movement. Friedman's latest project is a documentary called Addicted to Oil, which recently aired on the Discovery Channel. Very enlightening for the uninformed viewer, and quite entertaining for experts as well. Our office is planning on making it required viewing for all staff.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home