Dec 23 2008

Time to get RADICAL?

Category: economy,energy,environment,global warming,Obamaharmonicminer @ 10:49 am

The last time I looked, Thomas Friedman is neither a climate scientist, meterologist, physicist, or economist.  His academic training is in “Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies”. He’s a journalist. That’s it. So I hope Obama is not taking seriously this advice from Friedman to him, which presupposes Friedman’s ability to make scientific and economic judgments:

[Friedman] insisted that the challenge facing Obama required a revolutionary attitude to environmental policy, if the new administration wanted to avoid the devastating effects of global warming.

“We can do it if our next president, who I have great hopes for, is ready to be as radical as the moment we are in,” Friedman, whose previous bestseller was “The World is Flat”, told a lunch hosted by The Asia Society.

“Our next president is going to be called on to be more radical — I am talking crazy, wild-hair, paint-on-your-face, ring-in-your-nose radical — in what he does, than any president since FDR,” he said, referring to Franklin D Roosevelt, US president during the 1930s depression and the Second World War.


“The real question I have is… will he have the courage of our crisis? I think our crisis is so deep that only truly radical behaviour will be required to get us out of it.”

Friedman, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times columnist, called on the United States to become a world leader in green technology.

He said that could only be achieved with strong leadership and called on Obama to put a price on carbon and introduce higher taxes on gasoline, moves that could face strong political opposition.

There are some world class heavyweights for whom climate science, physics and economics ARE their specialties, who would disagree.  Not to knock Friedman, he’s a smart guy, and I enjoyed his book, “The World Is Flat”.  But he is captive of the elite establishment in which he lives, in this case.  I have to wonder, has he, as a journalist, actually interviewed and seriously considered the perspectives of the people listed at the links I just gave?  Or does he just pretend they aren’t there, like the rest of the eco-panic Left?

I would like to suggest that Friedman take a month, and talk ONLY to anthropogenic global warming skeptics with serious scientific credentials, and economists who soberly project the disaster that will ensue if we take the “radical” action he prescribes.  Why talk ONLY to the skeptics for a month?  Because it would seem he has paid attention only to the true believers in the previous 5 years; call it equal time.

Friedman seems not to understand that even if all of Europe and the USA stopped emitting ANY carbon today, it would not make enough difference (even if you totally buy into anthropogenic global warming), because India, China and other developing economies are ramping UP, and they are not going to restrict themselves in this way.  It is not a choice between the USA continuing to emit (and having global warming), and the USA stopping emissions (and cooling off).  We don’t have the ability to have that much effect, and if we can’t control nuclear proliferation, do we think we can control carbon emissions in developing economies?  Maybe Friedman thinks we have to go to war to stop China from burning so much oil?

As it happens, I agree that Obama needs to take radical action.  He needs to knock down the barriers to drilling for oil, and become very pro-active in getting nuclear reactors built all over the USA.

Probably not what Friedman had in mind.

Other posts on global warming here.

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