geo-green

As he’s been known to do on occasion, Thomas Friedman has put into a few simple words what I couldn’t express over the course of 20-some posts. Here’s a clip from his op-ed in today’s New York Times:

By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit’s automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is – as others have noted – financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?

The neocon strategy may have been necessary to trigger reform in Iraq and the wider Arab world, but it will not be sufficient unless it is followed up by what I call a “geo-green” strategy.

As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax….

Sadly, the Bush team won’t even consider this. It prefers cruise missiles to cruise controls. We need a grass-roots movement. Where are college kids these days? I would like to see every campus in America demand that its board of trustees disinvest from every U.S. auto company until they improve their mileage standards. Every college town needs to declare itself a “Hummer-free zone.” You want to drive a gas-guzzling Humvee? Go to Iraq, not our campus. And an idea from my wife, Ann: free parking anywhere in America for anyone driving a hybrid car.

I know it’s probably not politically correct to suggest that some good could have come out of the 9/11 attacks, but I really do think that they probably offered us our one big opportunity to change the course that our country’s on relative to energy policy. A president who had the long-term interest of the American people in mind could have addressed the nation and laid out an ambitious plan for energy independence in the wake of the attacks. We were willing to sacrifice. We would have, if he’d just given the word, agreed to a $10 billion bond for alternative energy research. And corporations would have done their part by introducing smaller cars and transitioning some of their workforce to telecommuting. If Bush said that he wanted us to cut our energy consumption by 20%, we would have done it. Every one of us would have turned down the thermostats and put extra blankets on our beds. But, our leaders just told us to keep on spending. We asked what we could do to help, and we were told to buy things.

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22 Comments

  1. chris
    Posted February 14, 2005 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Amen brother. Go green, I love it. Better than my don’t shop idea. Putting in solar panels have been successful for some here in Bklyn. One couple I know put in solar panels on their roof. $25,000 with half reimbursed by ConEd. Sometimes they produce more electricity than they use and ConEd pays them for the difference. One reason that they get the rebate is that it reduces the risk for brownouts. So let’s say your electric is $150 a month. Ok, so it will take 5 years to break even (c’mon do the math people) but I could sleep at night and see how close the flames are on my independently powered TV. Krugman, as elaborated by Mark, is onto something very do-able.

    And, yeah, the DNC pisses me of too. I got their last questionnaire cum (that’s Latin not jiz) solicitation. Well, in the question section, what’s most important to you…education, taxes, healthcare, pro-choice. And I’m supposed to rate this shit?? And, does the amount of my donation weight my choices? So I’m trying to answer this and its hard because something is missing, and it hits me, affirmative action is GONE! Whatever… They need to get it together, and Mark give me something…anything…that makes me get back on board even if Dean is the chairman.

  2. mike
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    I take the opposite approach. I figure, with china’s robust gas-guzzeling economy on top of our over the top waste of resources, it’s just a matter of time before the middle east rus out of oil. I don’t, for one minute believe that you are going to get a family of 5 (my family) into some little matchbox car that can’t accelerate faster than a mack truck and drive to the supermarket to go get 10 bags of food. Ain’t gonna happen. Not here. You have your 6% of america that will do it if they aren’t already staked out in a redwood tree for months on end so that the loggers can’t come and clear cut a couple thousand acres of renewable resources so they can’t get to building some 500 site subdivision resembling a poltergiest community ( I would like to send in a picture of one close to where I live. It’s creepy) or they haven’t yet been arrested for fire bombing a hummer dealership. But that’s it. So the alternative plan is what I do. Buy two suvs and a boat ( boats are great for this plan). Then use as much fucking gas as possible as quickly as possible. Make multiple trips to the supermarket by not writing down a list of what you need. Accelerate as quickly as possible off the line. Exceed the speed limit by at least 20mph. Drive with the parking brake on, air conditioner on high, windows down and when possible, buy one of those roof rack luggage holders and keep it on your car. Keep extra heavy objects in the car at all times and deflate your tire pressure. Doing this will actually use up all the gas more quickly. Then what? You got it, alternative energy programs out the ass. You have to thinkoutside the box people. Oppressive dictatorships will be funded by China forever unless we use it all up. So go buy a hummer or two and keep them running in your driveway even if you are just thinking about going to the store.
    And what mark says about the terrorists “OFFERING us our one big opportunity to change the course that our country

  3. Ken
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Nice hyperbole.

    Humans have the uncanny knack for living in a bubble. They are so myopic that all they can see is the space 4 feet around them and about 8 hours into the future. Your three children (that you want to protect from a mouse) stand to inherit this world with no oil. That doesn’t mean that they will have to drive an electric car. It means the that the entire way of life we know today will be changed. Everything we do is somehow tied to that oil we are pulling from the ground. From the computer you typed your message on to the 10 bags of groceries you picked up at the store. It sure wouldn’t hurt to think ahead about a looming problem.

    And those terrorists, I don’t think they will be cutting off their own heads and serving them up to us any time soon. I think what they will be serving us will look like something from a Bruce Willis movie and it would be pretty myopic to think that it won’t happen.

  4. Mihir
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    The NYT op-ed is by Thomas Friedman, not Paul Krugman.

  5. mark
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Mihir. I wasn’t thinkikng straight last night. I’ll make the change.

  6. john galt
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Once again someone proposes artifical price controls to solve a problem.. This time the problem just seems to be energy consumption. I do congragulate him on not actually saying that by reducing consumption we can stop “global warming” which I guess we can debunk in another thread. I find it amazing that the same people who rant that a flat-tax is wrong as it is a regressive tax as so quick to jump on the “lets raise gas taxes $1.00” bandwagon. This is just another example of the leftist mindset that they know better than the rest of society and they’re going to do something to control those masses. Other than the negative effects high gas prices have our economy, If we really did reduce consumption, where are the states going to get the money for road projects, sound crazy.. but in Ore. where there are more than a few people driving around in hybrids already.. They are already taking steps to tax people not per gallon but per mile. heres the link.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/02/14/eveningnews/main674120.shtml

    of course if you live in a state like Texas where people have to commute alot due to geography, there is a upside for the state, massive new subsidies which can be used for whatever pet project they want. When the people complain, they’ll just say that its for their own good. Let the private sector research new energy technologies, if there’s profit to be made there’s plenty of motivation, the current hybrid car explosion isn’t the result of a govt. program but rather market demand.

  7. W
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Ken -computers don’t use oil. At least not mine. It’s an Electric computer.

  8. chris
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Man, is it just me or am I attracting these motherfuckers to this site? Yes, you heard me right…MOTHERFUCKERS. I will debase myself. I apologized to your loyal readers and promised better behavior to them not the Yahoos. Anyway, I will see everyone else, Tony, Kathleen, Brett, Mark, Ken, etc. in the impromptu chat room until all this blows over. Thank you to Steve for setting this up and emailing me the details.

    BTW, I loved the quiz to determine our loyalty and political leanings in order to get the address! So, I don’t know…Foucault’s Pendulum…maybe?

  9. Posted February 15, 2005 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    “computers don’t use oil. At least not mine. It’s an Electric computer.”

    How is your electricity made down there in GA? Many plants still burn fossil fuel to generate electricty.

  10. Posted February 15, 2005 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    mike/W, How do you think plasic is made?

  11. Posted February 15, 2005 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    john, I agree, let’s remove the subsidization of the oil market. That would be excellent.

    Of course you’ll have to factor in all US forces deployed abroad to protect the oil supply.

    I’m figuring without subsidization gas would cost at least $6/gallon. Then we can let the market do it’s thing.

  12. W
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Electricity is made with water.
    Platic is made with a bones of dead horses.

  13. Posted February 15, 2005 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    riiiight, and trees cause more pollution than cars. Conservative “science” would be funny if dipshits didn’t believe it.

  14. Ken
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    You must have one uh dem dare new fangled computin’ machines because mine is still burnin the crude! It is hell startin’ it up on a cold mornin’!

  15. JF
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Chris,

    Nice language. Real impressive. Really demonstrates your intellectual capacity. Just go to your secret echo-chamber and have your little pity party. We will try to stick to the issues on this site while you are gone.

  16. Dylan Tyner
    Posted February 15, 2005 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of the issues at hand, could we get back to W’s assertion that computers somehow exist and run independent of fossil fuels? I think before we can have a substantive debate on the issues we need to make sure we’re all starting from the same place. Can someone perhaps recommend a text that explains the place of fossil fuels in our economy, from transportation to pharma? It’s easy for some of us to laugh at W for not realizing what we think of as pretty rudimentary, but let’s not use this forum to judge. Let’s instead use it to reach out and help one another learn and grow.

  17. [steph]
    Posted February 16, 2005 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Mike,
    I don’t recall whether it was you or one of the others who stressed the importance of doing something about the impending social security problems NOW, as opposed to just waiting for the disaster that some say will occur. Finding a solution before the problems are upon us was certainly stressed in several articles pro-privatization people linked to.

    It seems to me that running out of oil will be much more catastrophic for this country (and the world) than running out of social security money. And it also seems that oil is a problem that will take a lot more time and energy and cooperation to solve.

    That isn’t to say that we should abandon thinking about social security reform and put all our energy (no pun intended) into the oil issue. But your approach (which unfortunately seems to be the approach of many Americans–the “Why should I change my life? Somebody will fix the problem when it gets bad enough” view) puzzles me. Why be proactive when it comes to social security but not when we’re faced with a potentially far more serious crisis with the potential for much longer-lasting ill effects?

    If you really believe your approach to the oil issue is correct, why shouldn’t we take the same approach to social security reform? Why not increase the benefit tenfold? That way, the funds will run out faster, the crisis will be upon us more quickly, and we can do something about it when we can look right at the problem and the detriment it’s caused.

    Sure, a few old people might die (who needs ’em anyway?), or, in the case of the oil, it might be too late to employ any strategies that would restore aspects of our daily lives and society as we know it today (but life is boring anyway, we could use a change, right?)

    I assume that at least part of your response was hyperbole, but unfortunately, it closely resembles the truth for some people.

    So why should we focus on finding alternative ways to replenish our diminishing social security funds but resist considering alternatives to replenish our dwindling oil supply?

    [steph]

  18. Dave Morris
    Posted February 16, 2005 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    There was a nice issue of National Geographic a few months back on oil. Here is a link to an article teaser along with some links at the bottom.

    http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0406/feature5/

  19. Dave Morris
    Posted February 16, 2005 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    http://home.earthlink.net/~dmorrisdesign/images/oil%20products.jpg

    http://home.earthlink.net/~dmorrisdesign/images/oil%20capacity.jpg

  20. Ken
    Posted February 16, 2005 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Dave, That is a good article. Can you scan the pages that aren’t in the online version?

  21. Posted April 1, 2005 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Looks like your site needs some real info-
    Mainstream press- June 2004 National Geographic-“The End of Cheap Oil”
    Rolling Stone March 24, Kunstler “The Long Emergency”
    and the best but not mainstream press-Timeline, from Palo Alto Foundation for Global Community#73 Jan/Feb 2004 “When the Oil Runs Out” by Mac Lawrence

    If you’re wanting books-
    Richard Heinburg’s The Party’s Over and PowerDown
    oil engineer, Pierre Chabots’ Oil Addiction,the World In Peril
    and Julian Darley’s High Noon For Natural Gas

    The gist of the issue is called Pealk Oil -a world-wide power shortage in hydrocarbon energy-
    Demand is outstripping production
    Your readers never got to the food is petroleum based now too-nitrogen fertilizers, transportation, pesticides…

    I was writing an article for my daily, The Christian Science Monitor when I came to your site…just thought I’d offer these.

    Actually Roscoe Bartletts speech to congress-March 14 was outstanding and he is apparently an arch conservative….sounded like Jimmy Carter TV address to nation, April 14, 1977 only way more dire now…

  22. Posted April 20, 2005 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Well if the “silicon shortage” would be dealt with instead of taking advantage in the early stages of commercialisation of the PV industry; maybe things would move faster…

    Juiced.ca
    Canadian Alternative Energy

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