A Final Question

At last we have a new president—and one who obviously "gets it" about the need for America to change over to a Clean Energy system and renew our national ideals and sense of purpose in the process. With that in mind, I am now going to begin to revise and update Hot, Flat, and Crowded for a new edition and to write the new chapter, Chapter 18. Thanks to all for your contributions; I’ll take up a number of them in the new chapter.

A final question: What is President Obama leaving out? What should he do on the clean energy front that he isn’t already doing?


President Obama should

1.) Eliminate the subsidization of ethanol. It's not net positive.

2.) Put a patriot tax on gas in order to provide additional funding for research and development of alternatives to fossil fuel vehicles and transportation as well as to help trim the amount of monies that are pipelined by petroleum giants to terrorist organizations. It's time the citizenry of our country band together just as our parents and relatives did during WWII to make the world a better place.

3.) Put out a call to the American people to march on Washington the next time a crucial and critical piece of legislation receives the "politics as usual" treatment by Congress as was evidenced by the recent Stimulus Bill bickering. It seems a large number of these public servants in Congress have forgotten the reason they're where they are at which is because they were elected to those positions. They weren't born to them.

Joe Nobiling (not verified)
February 22nd 2009, 11:20 am

I love your work. Here is my idea.
To encourage startups, reimburse the costs of licensing, permits and other government imposed fees.
I have recently been laid off and am starting a small business to get back to work. The number of fees I have paid have been substantial. They are appropriate, but if they were reimbursed, it would help. It is a verifiable expense that could be easily paid back.
Thanks. Keep up the good work.

Monty Parks (not verified)
February 22nd 2009, 5:58 am

We have a wonderful, home grown (via Romania!) AMERICAN car company producing an electric car with a 240 mile range - not to mention the drive of a Porsche called Tesla. We should buy it. Infuse it with cash and leave the big three and the rest of the world behind.

Anonymous (not verified)
February 21st 2009, 10:54 pm

Hello Mr. Friedman! I just finished your book, it was amazing! I am currently writing a HUGE book report on it, actually. It's not very hard with the wealth of information you provided!
Well, if its not too late, I would LOVE to learn about in Chapter 18 about President Obama's impact and his administration's take on climate change and energy. Actually, you could (SHOULD) write a mini-book about it!
I'm 16 and I just need to know if this president will finally help us. Please, and thank you!

Amy (not verified)
February 21st 2009, 8:01 pm

This article I wrote locally could be a small model for part of a green revolution:

Saginaw’s Leslie Bacon is a scavenger.
A furniture and appliance repair specialist.
An interior decorator.
A professional social worker.
An environmentalist.
An evangelist.
Somehow, some way, these all go together.
Leslie has found a truly original way to uplift troubled young singled mothers, while easing the environmental strain on landfills.
She drives and spies discarded household items on street curbs, or obtains donations. She gathers her 5-foot-2, 125-pound frame to load the items onto an old truck.
“People think I’m a junk lady,” says Leslie, a youthful 58, with a modest laugh.
But check this: She has a strategy. Very subtle. She repairs everything into clean and working order, and heads for a client’s apartment. The twosome work as a team to perform a top-to-bottom makeover –- not just the basics such as a couch or a washing machine, but pictures on the walls and vases on the end tables.
Leslie gains the client’s trust in a manner that a regular counselor might not. Only then does she begin her social work, mixing subtle encouragement with prayers and hugs.
Annie, for example, is a 20-year-old mother of two who is overjoyed with her new surroundings but speaks of deeper thoughts.
“Miss Bacon has helped me learn to love my kids more,” the shy young lady tells a visitor.
A month ago, 23-year-old Marie had saved the monthly food stamps for her three-child home and entrusted them with Leslie. This month, however, she has reverted to old form and sold the vouchers for money to buy crack cocaine. Leslie is disappointed, but instead of delivering a lecture, she holds the young mom’s hand for a quiet prayer.
“It’s tough for Marie,” she says, “but Marie will never sell any of the furniture that we have given her. Never.”

‘Gleaning’ gets going
Leslie’s 19-year-old effort, “Gleaning for Jesus,” is named for the Bible’s story about collecting food overlooked in the regular harvest. In her case, the crop is household castoffs.
Clients need not know about her four-year college degree. In fact, she prefers that a young mom view her simply as a helping friend in jeans and a sweatshirt who is dragging a mattress through the door.
“I know I’m not your typical social worker or environmentalist, but these young ladies don’t want to be downgraded or feel they’re being judged,” Bacon explains.
Their troubles may range from budgeting to parenting to drugs.
“We need other ways to reach them,” Bacon says. “I grew up in Saginaw’s projects with no pictures on the walls, no carpeting, just a cold concrete floor. This contributed to a negative view that I carried all the way into my young adult years.
“When we do a makeover and transform a house into a true home –- a true home like I never had -- it affects someone’s whole outlook. That’s what is happening with Annie.”
Retiree George Barrett, a long-time Gleaning volunteer and donor, remains fascinated.
“Leslie’s approach is ingenious,” he says. “She takes these items and uses them as part of her counseling, but to the people on the receiving end, it doesn’t seem like counseling.”

Red Cross startup
Saginaw’s local “junk lady” was in her late 30s, divorced with three grown children, when she made a life-changing decision to become a social worker. Her college work-study assignment in 1990 was with the Saginaw Red Cross, which is the first responder when house fires leave families homeless. She had experience working in a furniture and appliance repair shop, and suddenly she had clients who had lost all of their possessions. The idea clicked: Repaired household items + social work = Gleaning for Jesus.
She named her old blue van “Ruth” in tribute to the biblical heroine known for gleaning. Her first efforts for her Red Cross clients were at a true scavenger level, scouring Saginaw’s curbsides. A sofa might be collapsed and seem worthless, for example, but she would use the available good vinyl to cover the seats of some beat-up kitchen chairs.
“She would be driving along and say, ‘Ooo, ooo, there’s a nice chair. Ooo, ooo, there’s a good table,’” says Mark Butler, her brother, mimicking her excited reactions. “She would always stop, even on Sundays in our church clothes.”
In 1991, she landed her current social work position with single-parent families. She continued her “gleaning” concept.
Gleaning for Jesus grew so fast that Leslie eventually became more selective. She now works mostly with “as-is” items that are donated directly, rather than snatched from street curbs.
“But I’ll still stop,” she says. “The other day, I saw a pair of end tables that I just had to grab. I still have the strength, although now with arthritis it’s harder to get a grip.”
Some moms struggle more than others. She recently donated a kitchen table at an apartment where a 4-year-old boy was eating on the floor.
“He grabbed the leg of that table, and he hugged it like a new toy,” she says.

Saginaw comes through
Leslie faced a streak of hard luck during the late 1990s. A fire destroyed a former shipping depot where she was storing her goods. Then her trucks coughed and quit, one after another.
She stalled at a busy intersection one day, blocking traffic. Motorists honked and cursed her. At that moment, she considered quitting.
Then an array of sources came to the rescue. She received funds for truck repairs. She reaped an annual grant for a caseworking assistant and a pair of part-time collection drivers. A company contributed its former warehouse, complete with a dropoff dock. A roofing manufacturer donated materials and a construction outfit performed the job, allowing Leslie to put her assorted leak buckets aside.
She now has enough space to conduct classes on everything from parenting to sewing. She also has used donated items to convert the former customer service area into a chapel, organizing “gleaned weddings” for three couples who otherwise could have afforded nothing more than an oath with the county magistrate. She even keeps donated bridal dresses and an arbor on hand, and somebody actually donated a church organ.
“If anything is the total embodiment of Gleaning for Jesus, it’s those weddings,” Leslie Bacon says.
“This is more than just picking up stuff off the curb. There’s a motive behind this. There’s production. And there are results.”
(Thanks for reading or skimming. If need for followup reference, my TX is (989) 401-0147, Leslie at Gleaning for Jesus (989) 754-6706.)

mike thompson (not verified)
February 21st 2009, 6:29 pm

Hi Tom,

I liked your Book. I think chapter 18 was just written by congress as part of the stimulus package.

I'd forget chapter 18 and start a new book; Fat, Flat, Hungry, Hot and Crowded. I think agriculuture and the global food system and its impact on energy consumption would be interesting to include in your next book. You kind of walked around the pond of agriculture and occassionally stuck your toe in the water but retracted, perhaps realizing it was too full of snapping turtles and deep to enter.

As America eats more frozen pizza and gets fatter and fatter, the true energy cost of our premade food is getting higher and higher. Even the energy to move an organic salad grown in California to be eaten in New York is probably greater than the energy contained in the salad. At the same time, as lightless Africa, and others, are excluded from the flatness of the computer age, they are becoming more and more hungry. I imagine its hard to learn to use a computer on an empty stomach.

Good book, I'm looking forward to the next one...


Dave (not verified)
February 21st 2009, 7:35 am

Am at Page 90 of your new book ... highly respectful of your writings ... obviously you must travel to report as you do ... am just being honest in a thought that strikes me ... there is this mix in your book in which you emphasize the need to conserve energy, but then on each next page you are flying all over the place, meeting various "friends" all over the globe ... seems like you are throwing a whole bunch of carbons into the atmosphere yourself (plus living in Bethesda) .... like al gore showing his movie in air conditioned theaters where he does a fly-in to appear; so much for energy conservation ... really i do not mean to sound insular ... am retired from 32 years reporting at The Saginaw (Mich.) News, population formerly 100,000 and now 56,000, circulation down the same .... started in 1973 as a sportswriter and had to burn a lot of gas to outlying schools .... moved to news-side in 1982 thru 2006, local news in a town really buried by the global economy, like a Little Detroit up the I-75 highway .... but as far as not burning gasoline, my home is 1.7 miles from the office .... my home is 0.5 miles from city hall .... 1.5 miles from the school board .... 1.8 miles from the welfare office .... 1.9 miles from the unemployment office ..... less than 2 miles from the ghettoes .... I was within 2 to 3 miles distance of virtually all of my assignments .... (while editors were driving in from 15-20 miles distant) .... in an average month, work and personal needs combined, would drive about 600 miles .... if everyone was like me, there would be no U.S. oil imports and domestic gas would cost maybe $1 a gallon .... it's just something to think about, Mr. Friedman, while you lecture us about energy conservation, you are a contributor to burning a whole lot of energy on these worldwide flights you so constantly take .... an sorry if this is unfair, am just reporting back to you an honest thought as I continue into your latest book .....

mike thompson (not verified)
February 20th 2009, 11:14 pm

So far, cap and trade systems have not succeeded in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion enough to justify the economic hardship they’ve inflicted. The fundamental reasons for this failure are that the economic incentives and disincentives of this system have not hit the correct targets, and that the programs are prone to fraud and difficult to enforce. The following proposal corrects those problems.

Limit the scope of the cap and trade program to electric power generation. All fossil fuel use outside the program should be subject to a carbon tax (which could be implemented separately).

There are several reasons to confine the program to electric power generation only. The first is limiting the number of pollution sources in the program to make it possible to enforce compliance, and the second is that electric power generation is fundamentally an energy conversion industry and not an energy consumer, and as such its incentives should be applied differently than those for energy consumers.

Cap and trade came to prominence after it was successful in reducing oxides of nitrogen and sulfur from coal burning power plant emissions. The program included a limited number of pollution sources, which made it relatively easy to enforce. Extending the program to a much larger number of small polluters would present an impossible enforcement task.

The most and least important reason to limit the scope of the program is that it makes the program politically possible. While most people look down on political necessity, it remains the most difficult part of the problem to crack. The electric power industry is already regulated, and many voters imagine cap and trade will solve the climate problem without costing them any money. Elected officials should be able to get this program implemented without jeopardizing their re-elections.

Define a cap in terms of metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt hour generated. A coal fired generation plant emits 0.86 mtCO2/MWh, a natural gas fired plant emits 0.38 mtCO2/MWh.

Specifying emissions per megawatt-hour targets the generation mix rather than the total amount of power supplied to the grid. Capping total emissions over a particular time period leads to the notion that we will actually have emissions below the cap by a certain date, no matter what. In fact, there’s no way to control the weather, and the power companies can’t just turn the lights off for the last few weeks of the reporting period. A hard cap is a fantasy.

In the event of an economic downturn, total power use might actually drop, which would allow a total target to be met with no change in the generation mix. It would stop progress towards a lower carbon generation mix, and set the whole program back.

In addition, consumers of fossil fuels are being encouraged to switch to electric power, because it’s perceived to be cleaner and less subject to supply disruptions from foreign powers. We need to be making more electric power, not less. Specifying a cap in terms of emissions per megawatt-hour will guide power company choices when they add new generation facilities to their mix.

Distribute allowances to all generators, including non-polluting generators, based on the amount of power they sell on the grid. Require allowances to be used to purchase fossil fuels for generation.

Emissions allowances are financial instruments worth real money. If they are going to work to reduce emissions, they have to be awarded for correct behavior. The European program distributed allowances to past polluters under a system complicated by international boundaries. The RGGI auctions some allowances. The European program created windfalls for big polluters, especially the polluters that fraudulently inflated their needs, which was all of them. The RGGI has produced a windfall for the environmental groups benefiting from the auction proceeds. There is no reason to imagine any of the windfall money will be invested back into low carbon generation.

Awarding allowances on the basis of electric power generated and sold on the grid gives all generators, including generators using renewable power sources, an asset of real value as a reward for producing the electricity we need.

The current programs require emissions to be monitored by a regulator who then determines if the polluter has the allowances to cover those emissions. Monitoring smokestacks takes lots of skilled technicians, and there’s no guarantee the emissions while the technician is looking are the same as those while he is not looking. This is totally unnecessary, and an engraved invitation to fraud.

The simple fact is that for a given amount of a given fossil fuel, carbon dioxide emissions will always be the same when the fuel is burned completely. Every rail car of coal from a given source will always produce exactly the same amount of carbon dioxide when it is burned in any power plant. What this means is that allowances can be required for the purchase of the fuel, and smokestack monitoring is not necessary, which turns enforcement into an accounting problem instead of a science experiment. Of the many elected officials I have spoken with, only one, an engineer, understands this. The rest of them, all fine people, do not have a firm comprehension of the science behind combustion, and have allowed polluters to dictate enforcement protocols that are easily circumvented.

I cannot stress this enough. Enforcement must be an accounting problem and not a science experiment. Awarding allowances on the basis of power sold to the grid, and requiring their use to purchase fossil fuel for generation is enforceable. Distributing allowances based on inflated estimates of past pollution and redeeming them based on easily manipulated smokestack measurements is ridiculous.

Let the generators trade allowances among themselves. Clean generators would have a valuable asset that dirty generators would have to buy. A cap of 0.5 mtCO2/MWh, for example, would force coal users to buy allowances and let gas users (and windmill operators) sell. Over time, the cap would be cranked down to force the gas users to buy, too.

The point of this cap and trade program is to clean up our electric power generation industry. By setting the cap in terms of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, we are directly specifying how clean our power should be, while allowing market forces to choose the technologies that best meet that goal. By setting a cap at 0.5 mtCO2/MWh, for example, we are saying that coal is too dirty and natural gas is OK for now, and the program will force generators burning coal to buy allowances from everybody else. Over time, regulators will reduce the allowed emissions per megawatt-hour, and dirty fuels will become ever less affordable.

By requiring dirty generators to buy allowances from clean generators, we are precisely targeting the incentives to achieve our goal.

Sell allowances in excess of the cap for a high fixed price. This would keep the market price from spiking, and provide a limited revenue stream to fund enforcement.

One of the dangers of putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions is that the beneficiaries of that revenue will come to depend on it and will promote continued pollution to keep the money coming in. By structuring the program so that most of the allowances are awarded for power production, the income to the regulators is limited.

The current programs punish their participants terribly and unnecessarily with wild price spikes or crashes at the end of the reporting periods. Making extra allowances available for a high fixed price will cap the spikes and allow dirty generators to predict their exposure to a worst case scenario. Price crashes should be less common also, because the program distributes allowances only when power is sold and is therefore less vulnerable to fraudulent inflation of claims for allowance awards.

By implementing a cap and trade program as outlined above, we should be able to clean up our electric power generation in a cost effective and less regulated way, without imposing undue financial hardship on electric power consumers or generators. By using a cap and trade model and limiting the program to electric power generation, it should be politically possible for elected officials to implement this program.

Sue Radford (not verified)
February 18th 2009, 10:20 pm

My idea is to marry a few nascent technologies: electric vehicles, computerized car-sharing networks, and robot vehicles, all of which are improving rapidly. With appropriate subsidies (and, of course, the political will), this could be made a reality in quite a short period.

It would work as follows: A person needs a car for a short period of time, which is true for 90% of our personal transport use. The person would make a reservation on the internet for the appropriate vehicle for the task, for example, 10:00 am: take one person to the supermarket, or 7:00 am: take two people to the airport or train station, or 8:00 am: take one person from home to work. The fleet of various-sized robot electric vehicles would be everywhere, waiting and recharging on municipal charging spots equipped with inductive connectors. The nearest appropriately-sized vehicle would automatically drive itself from its parking spot to the person's location, take the person to wherever they want to go, then proceed to the nearest available charging station to wait for its next task.

Does this sound too pie-in-the-sky-ish? Maybe so, but all of these technologies have been demonstrated, including demonstration robot vehicles (with human back-up observer-drivers) driving on the streets of NYC.

Joseph Doniach (not verified)
February 18th 2009, 5:11 pm

Obama must not forget that there is nothing more noble than the inclusion of others into the circle. Whether it is the disabled, a person of another race, social status or country, they want to belong. So we should welcome the inclusion that globalization represents and the risks it brings, for we are a country that will compete fiercely but will not hate or deny solace and generousity for those that need it. To put it in basketball terms there is nothing that thrills me more than to see two intensely rival players standing at the foul line sharing a smile during the game. I think that is the way Americans want to be on this flat earth; not nationalistic protectionists, but bring it on, good natured, global competitors.

Norm Harruff (not verified)
February 18th 2009, 3:00 pm

President Obama could lead by example by implementing energy-saving measures at the White House, similar to Michael Pollan's proposal for a 5-acre farm on site with a White House Farmer.

To the readers who've complained that you did not devote more text to the problem of crowding: people love to play God and make moral and ethical decisions for others.
Why not make better use of our natural resources (and that includes raising our babies)? Technology innovations and conservation measures can make breakthroughs not yet in place.

Your latest book is well-researched and thought-provoking. I hope President Obama reads it.

Hannah Lee; Bal... (not verified)
February 18th 2009, 11:46 am

Mr. Friedman,
You frequently point to the perilous consequences of our dependence on foreign oil, our failure to take appropriate steps to protect the environment, and our unwillingness to adopt "best practices" from other nations. Currently there is an initiative underway which can address all three of these challenges simultaneously. Significant members of the business community are advocating legislation to increase gross vehicle weight for tractor trailers on our nations federal interstate system be included in the next Transportation Reauthorization legislation due later in 2009. Importantly, we believe this can be accomplished without compromising safety or infrastructure integrity.

Specifically, the proposal calls for increasing gross vehicle weight on tractor trailer units operating on federal interstate highways to 97,000 pounds with 6 axles; the current maximum is 80,000 pounds with 5 axles. This limit is lower than much of the developed world including Canada, Mexico, and Europe, placing American business at a competitive disadvantage at our ports and borders and in our manufacturing processes.

Trucks operating at the higher weight limit are about 15% more fuel efficient per pound of freight hauled. Less fuel burned means fewer emissions. And because fewer trucks are required to haul a given amount of freight, road congestion is reduced. A United Kingdom Study on Increased Vehicle Weight clearly illustrates the case: In 2001 the UK raised gross vehicle weight on 6 axle trucks to 97,000 pounds. Tonnage shipped has continued to increase yet vehicle miles traveled has been flat and accident rates have been steadily declining - exactly what would be expected.

The time is right: international competitiveness, fuel efficiency, environmental performance and infrastructure constraints can be addressed, at least in part, by taking a step already proven to be successful in most of the developed world – increasing the federal weight limit for specially outfitted trucks.

If you would like more information on this initiative, please let me know. Thank you for your consideration.

Harry J. Haney, III
Coalition for Transportation Productivity

Harry J. Haney, III (not verified)
February 17th 2009, 9:17 pm

I have started reading your book but must admit have only reached chapter 3 so far. Great!

I am writing this from Dubai and if ever there was a place that epitomised the 'headlong environment ignoring' rush to riches, then this is the place. They have built their new city on the 'American Dream', cars first, people last!

However, just round the corner in Abu Dhabi is a new development called Masdar City; a zero carbon, zero waste new city. I admit my interest as the carbon managers on this new development, and whilst they do not have the whole answer, they certainly have part of it. You should cover this and similar developments as examples of a sustainable way forward.

I also attended the World Economic Forum on sustainable development held in Dubai in November 2008 where we developed the idea of 'Positive Infrastructure'; being infrastructure that has a net positive impact on the environmenat and society.

Given the present trend for governments to invest into such developments to kick start their economies, it seems that the time has come to define what exactly what this means and to ensure that such new governemnt led initiatives do not store up any further shocks for our future.

Guy Battle (not verified)
February 17th 2009, 4:16 pm

Hot,Flat, and Crowded is as thought provoking as it gets. Sadly I think that all of the solutions that implement the production of "green electrons" will at best delay our ultimate confrontation with the real problem of overpopulation. I think that the solution will become obvious with time that the admission to the "middle class" of the future must come with a price tag, a collective recognition of and committment to the need for a one child policy. Hopefully we are not too late.

One of the enigmas of our time is our aversion to people power in pursuit of mass transit. Surely climate controlled bikeways need to be looked at very seriously. A potential solution for the moribund US carmakers (they could build the modular units), and certainly well worth a real world test in a selected mid sized community. It may sound ludicrous to suggest that young men and women could be the engines of sophisticated rickshaws plying their trade in the above setting, but think of the benifits as compared to the lot of the average big city cab driver. As for the population at large, the benefits would be incalculable. The obvious one of fitness goes without saying, but think of the social consequences of a mobile community that could communicate, would be unlikely to indulge in road rage, and could give up their (costly) memberships in fitness clubs, while advertising their committment to a better world. The mind boggles.

In the end we must emphasize our commonalities not our differences if we are going to continue to succeed as a species. What a wonderful message to the rest of the world, millions of first world citizens on bicycles.

Rob Lyall (not verified)
February 15th 2009, 4:02 am

Tom, here’s what’s missing, and some have commented on it. It also fits with Chapter 18. To make changes, President Obama needs to sell the American people. The build here is: To sell this he needs to recognize and rely on Americans basic psychological makeup. It’s what makes Americans American.

This work was pioneered by a French psychologist, Clotaire Rapaille. Some of his work is summarized in the book, Incredibly American, Zuckerman and Hatma (1992), funded by AT&T, which gets at the heart of quality in America. This work was further developed by a group called InsideOut in which they presented “the Stuff Americans Are Made Of.” In it, they describe the American Improvers Archetype, which summarizes what motivates American Improvers (Change Agents). A few key statements regarding our motivations: Americans are inclined to action. They are driven to pursue a higher purpose, and make their own mark. They want to overcome long odds--love the “Impossible” versus “incremental,” which they quickly get bored with. Americans are energized by frustration, which is why we never do it right the first time and need to learn by our mistakes.

As long as “Green Is Easy” it’ll be boring. Hot, Flat and Crowded puts the need to act as CRITICAL, URGENT and BIG, just the type of challenge that motivates Americans (e.g., What happened to the American manufacturing capability by WWII? Americans have always had the instinct to sacrifice and find better ways when it was clear we have to “do it on the fly.”) From the examples in your book, it’s clear that when this is tapped, the results are “out of the park,” which is the only place Americans are motivated to hit it (e.g., GE Transportation EVO locomotives manufactured in Erie and Grove City, PA, pp.269-271). True, a lot of people are cautious and choose to minimize the challenge. Many of these make up our political community and instinctively work to maintain the status quo. But these are not the “change agents”, just the barriers to moving forward. These types are portrayed in almost every American movie or TV show that lays out a big threat. But as you describe, we have an Impossible Challenge we cannot afford to minimize and ignore. We need to get on with it and just do it!

One last thing you might want to read, in 1971, Buckminster Fuller published a book called Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Just read Chapter 4, and here is the link to take you there: http://www.bfi.org/?q=node/418

Bill K. (not verified)
February 14th 2009, 3:41 pm

Obama would be wise if he didn't increase the pressure on industry's pipes. A movie made by a politician and and mathematical models whose results change drastically when you change a few of the arbitrarily selected variables, is not enough evidence to cause such global hysteria. I may be called naive, maybe foolish, perhaps evil, but the emperor has not clothes!
The problem with the media is, it has essentially become a business. Sensationalism being the final product. Fear drives the media and the media drives the hype. Back in the 1970s global cooling was the consensus among the media, that never materialized.
Once this fraud is revealed, will the public have had enough? There are already cases of "climate change delusion," (named by Australian doctors) popping up. One boy refused to drink water because he was convinced if he drank, millions of people would die.
The earth has warmed and cooled before, and many scientists are predicting it is going to get colder soon again, and 2008 proved them right. How arrogant are we to believe we can change what the earth has been doing since the beginning of time.
Final point, follow the money. Academics who jump on the global warming bandwagon are far more likely to get big research grants than those who express doubts -- and research is the lifeblood of an academic career at leading universities.

Anonymous (not verified)
February 13th 2009, 3:03 am

President Obama is leaving out the same thing that is left out of the book. It is the same thing that is left out or mostly left out of all green planet discussions. Obviously everyone is afraid of it...POPULATION !...Green power will make no difference if we continue to drive arable land,wildlife, forests,and clean water sources to extinction with an exponentially growing people count. Green technology will not suffice of itself.

I have a few other quibbles with green power that are not covered by the book or President Obama. Both talk of a necessary nuclear power resurgence. Does that mean a second round of devastation uranium mining on tne U.S. Navajo reservation ? How will we mine Canada's Uranium without destroying the Inuit people and their caribou herds ?

Solar power may be the green way to go but the BLM is already processing applications that will make short shrift of the nation's national parks in the mojave desert.

Perhaps we can sacrifice indigenous peoples, deserts and wildlands as we process the power rollover from coal and oil to wind and sun, but it will not be pretty.

The very least we can do is plug population into the equation and not ignore it.

Marcel Rodriguez (not verified)
February 12th 2009, 4:45 pm

I have been trying to post this for months.
No one will talk openly about the worlds biggest problem." Hot, Flat and Crowded"
almost talked about it. Why is everyone afraid of the subject??? I have seen one person mention it one time on a TV show.
Our BIGGEST problem is "Crowded". The birth rate is so high mother earth is growing weary of trying to support the human race. Please, Please, Thomas, with your voice to the public, bring this issue out in the open.

Anonymous (not verified)
February 12th 2009, 10:34 am

Tom, President Obama may get "it" but he needs to sell "it." I'm surprised, with an opportunity like a bill referred to as an economic stimulus package that he hasn't spent every third word on "it." Change brings opportunity. And we haven't had an opportunity like this for generations and the opportunity must not be squandered.

So what does he need to do: he needs to "sell" what he "gets" and lead this country into getting it too.

Ok, with that said, does anyone know if there's a summary of clean energy related funding proposed in the current version of the stimulus package?

Tony Pompili (not verified)
February 11th 2009, 3:34 pm

I think we should start putting all utility wires underground. Last summer we had a "dry hurricane" in Ohio, an eerie, freakish event with terrible winds and no rain. We have also had two of the worst ice storms in memory during the last two years. These events have brought down thousands of trees and, of course, utility lines. This has led to terrible waste, especially in tons of rotted food. Once utility lines are down, they should be buried, and all new lines should be buried. I think this would make a good stimulus project, but I'm not an economics expert. Just a big fan of Messieurs Friedman and Krugman and our blue planet! Best wishes, C*.

Cindy Starr (not verified)
February 11th 2009, 2:03 pm

He hasn't had time, but he must get the leading industrialized nations on board with changes that incurr additional costs. We don't want to provide China with additional cost savings on manufacturing.

Norm Harruff (not verified)
February 11th 2009, 12:50 pm

I would say, come up with 21st century solutions. Most of the suggestions I read about are at best 20th century ways of doing things. A tax increase here and a tax cut there. That won't cut it...

There are so much more ways of making sure that for every buck that goes into energy, another is spend on renewable energy than just tax policy.

And technlogical, we need bold ideas. Windparks, solar etc. are not enough. Look into bold and creative ideas, such as ways to harvest the power of strong ocean currents (no that doesn't necessarily mean huge concrete constructions)...

Just be bold and creative.

Albert W (not verified)
February 11th 2009, 10:59 am

I would love to see you on some of the talk shows specifically the Republican dominated Limbaugh and Hannity. I am stunned at the constant denial of global warming and the solution to all the worlds problems are tax cuts. How about Oprah? Everyone I have given your book to asks me "why are we not talking about this in Congress". We can't even get the retro fitting of schools through Congress. Thanks!!!

Jim K. (not verified)
February 11th 2009, 10:29 am

I've read both your books, and think they should be required reading for everyone. I too am hopeful that President Obama "gets it" as you have indicated you believe to be the case.

So did I understand this correctly that his first Air Force One trip, on a jumbo jet, was to go from DC to Williamburg, VA, just to rally his Democratic troops? How much CO2 did that generate? I nominate that trip, which isn't that far and certainly could have been done more efficiently, for a "dumb as we wanna be" award. Maybe he could think a bit more about how to set an example, if he really does "get it."

Dan (not verified)
February 10th 2009, 10:32 pm

I would be critical of Hot, Flat, and Crowded - there are awkward juxtapositions between nationalism/universalism, nature/naturalism and layered with vague biblical references. I am a student of this topic in Scotland, and in a few months I finish my 4yr degree, receiving from a 600yr old university a piece of paper declaring I am now a "Master of Sustainable Development". Sorry if I am cynical.

I came back a week ago from the annual Alliance for Global Sustainability conference in Zurich, Switzerland. They are taking “energy technology” – ET - by the horns, and especially the idea of a Market of Innovation. To them, sustainable development = energy technology. It's a race of winners and losers. It is not “change or die” but “innovate or die”. That also seems to be how to survive on the streets too strangely. But you mix “ET” up with language of all six billion of "US". Frankly I have no personal, real experience of genocide, starvation, or chronic hopelessness. I don't know if ET or 'SD' will solve that. Do you believe Freetowners, Kampalans, and Luandans have equal access to the knowledge and information to live sustainably? Is the duty of leaders to shoot us towards the moon in our spaceship earth, or turn our heads towards the people around the (spherical) world that make life beautiful?

I believe Sustainable Development is an ideology - in cases, a political ideology to mitigate against "sustainability risks" and to strategize against those we hate (ourselves, Americans and Americums). And Muslims perhaps-you're not clear about this, but certainly ET = Saudi Arabia's only export is sand = goodbye middle east! To me, ET, at least judging from the educational centers creating the green revolution, are the same sites of power that have always been. 22/26 of the “best” university of the world are in the USA. What powers should be challenging?

Petrodictatorships, Resource Wars, Green Techno-Biz, Biofuels or diversity, Climate Change and other Sustainable Development "dishes" are palatable today, and you make them easily digestible. At Zurich, Colin Campbell (Peak Oil) says we should go backwards, and he likes showing a photograph of an old Irish fellow digging up peat. But most peers agree with you, we should invest rapidly and heavily in renewable green energy technology - the next tower of babel. Perhaps we'll be the next society of Egyptians, with amazing pyramids, or the next from the Dark Ages, with incredible cathedrals (like here in St. Andrews). Probably then 90% of us will be dirt poor slaves like those societies, but hey, that's sustainable!

In my home state of Alaska, people are warming to the idea of massive tidal, geothermal, and wind investments. But an interesting thing there is that we live in a paradox: Alaska is the most toxic polluting place in the world (per person) yet is also the image of untouched beautiful perfect environment. The latter is strictly controlled by interests outside Alaska, in D.C. and Environmental NGOs. We are a contradiction and ET is very conflictive to our identity. The key issue however, is that our "sustainable" future is incredibly insecure - we are pariahs of oil and government handouts (although we like to identify with self-sufficiency ideals). Unless we invest heavily in alternatives, and make it our single job for a generation or two, Alaska may become poor and pathetic in your vision Mr. Friedman

Andrea Riemer, from the Austrian Institute for Strategy and Security Policy, presents a similar petro-imperialism and geopolitical thesis where the USA & MIddle East are the world's best friends and greatest enemies. Nonetheless, when asked whether "Sustainable Development" could be used as a political leverage tool by countries like Austria she said "probably" because that is what these countries are doing already = using the language and ideology of “sustainability” to sustain existing relations of power. Switzerland, employing its #1 ranking for Environmental Performance Index (a society of bankers) and other SD indicators, will in the future use SD to gain economic and political power. What structural (if any) powers are you challenging with your ET strategy? Shouldn't we demand a Peace agenda attached to our SD agenda? Or is that incompatible?

Don't be afraid of conflict. Nature is violent and beautiful in the same stroke. We cannot live without fear as we cannot live with risk. "Mitigation" is a very boring worldview, but that's what SD political ideology proposes - prevent biodiversity loss, prevent climate change, prevent energy poverty, prevent resource wars and petrodictatorships. Did living in moderation disappear? You suggest ET will become important when it becomes violent. Well it has been extremely violent for decades, and future research will show that most of the post-Cold War conflicts were in fact SD Ideological conflicts targeted at persons or ways of living or natural resources.

You don't discuss "conflict" per say, but you do suggest a future of conflict and inequality, via a "renewable" brand of beating your brother to a better world.

Is anyone getting paid for their ideas here - or can you pick them for yourself free to make your next $300 grand? Talking about us being like Noah's boat in the biodiversity issue, and the necessary killing off of Americums, how do you live your life for Christ that you occasionally refer to? Shedding your clothes and following Ghandi/King/Theresa? Work with the poor and disposed?

Dylan Elek McFarlane (not verified)
February 10th 2009, 4:43 pm

obama is heading on the right track, the problem is that hes overlooking the fact that we cant eliminate all of our adiction to foregin oil. unless we find a permanent solution to this problem, well have no other choice but to continue to rely on the middle east, but to me i believe that its allready too late for any posible changes. right now as of november (but obviously sooner) we are in a recesion. most likely it will coontinue until i retire from what ever line of work i might end up going to be in [and im still in college right now]. the future will change as long as the people that are responsible for those actions can learn to let go of their greed and give more for the middle man. to me the idea that Obama is a savior is just a little too much. we wanted change, but we really wanted was a break from all the problems that caused the present day to happen today. eventually well have to bread our adiction entirely, shut down coal plants, ou cars and as stations will go the way of the black smith, and big oil will become a thing of the past. thats what i hope will hapen.

Nathaniel R. Po... (not verified)
February 10th 2009, 1:58 pm

The thing that must be remembered is the ultimate focus should be on the creation of wealth; many of the things I hear coming from the plan from Washington are infrastructure improvements and, while these are necessary, they support the creation of wealth but don't create wealth. While the jobs saved/created by improving the infrastructure can't be exported, neither can the infrastructure be exported. The ultimate goal should be the creation of processes and devices used in the creation and management of alternative energy. This is the stuff we can sell to everyone else. The is the way we take 'something not so much' and make it into 'something so very much more'.

Steven Sylvester (not verified)
February 10th 2009, 11:24 am

Hi Tom, Back near the beginning of my protracted undergraduate career in 1966, I had an ultimate ironic vision; the book with "all the answers" would be published on the day it was too late to do anything about our impending doom. Your book? I generally agree with your ideas but was disappointed that there was so little on "Crowded". The current mass extinctions are caused by direct human activity, warming is only a symptom of the real cause of almost all the problems in the modern world.
THERE ARE TOO MANY F---IN’ PEOPLE! More important than clean power is cheap and effective birth control. Even if that could be done it would take too long to be effective. The only reasonably rapid way to get a handle on population growth in an environmentally sound manner would be a combination of birth control and cannibalism. Little need for cattle and their green house emissions. No more vegetarians. They would be invited for dinner first. One problem though, most people are not fit for human consumption.

Murry I. Rozansky (not verified)
February 9th 2009, 11:47 pm

Now that most Americans are comfortable with the web, leverage the concepts of the book "Crowdsourcing" and involve the American people in designing the next generation, fuel efficient, "American" car. With early vested involvement and untapped innovation, Americans would help to design THE car of the future, (safe, gas efficient, cup holders :), etc). There would be a very limited number of models to drive down production cost, BUT each owner could specify and design their own "personlized" exterior paint job. Here's the hitch, if you have a role in designing this new American car, you must commit to buy one in 3 years, for a min/max price. This would do many things, get people involved in a fabulous collaborative experiment to save a troubled critical industry, help people to become vested in, own and maybe even "love" American cars again (I only own Toyotas), and it would demonstrate the power of social networking. If Americans took ownership in this initiative, they may become mobilized in other highly effective areas of social conciousness, like saving our planet. What can Barack Obama do? Participate, provide the seed funding, and personalize his own "Prez" mobile!!

Betty, an Ameri... (not verified)
February 9th 2009, 8:53 pm

I liked your book , your ideas are seemingly sound . Great so there can be a future even better than the present .
how are we going to get this going NOW ? start a new program to get the masses on board with your ideas . You are charged with this duty by the very fact you have the answers.

E mail me I have ideas i would love to talk to you .
stay well

Michael (not verified)
February 8th 2009, 7:12 pm