Introduction to Chapter 18

Hot, Flat, and Crowded has seventeen chapters. What's Chapter 18? Chapter 18 will be a completely new chapter that I’ll add to the next edition of the book: Version 2.0. In it I hope to include the best ideas and proposals sent in from readers: ideas about clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation; about petropolitics and nation-building in America; about how we can help take the lead in the renewal of our country and the Earth alike by going Code Green. I am eager for your suggestions — please post them here.


Tom, I am a long-time reader. I was a firm believer in AGW from the late 1980s. I was a big supporter of a carbon tax. I have changed my mind. Why? Because the facts have changed. In addition, my trust in the people creating the climate computer models is gone.
The reason there is no national energy policy is the linkage to AGW. The US can be close energy independent with its own natural gas, coal and nuclear resources. I recognize all of the non-AGW environmental issues. These can be addressed. This irrational clinging to the idea that CO2 is the problem is killing us. It is the THE reason.
Please stop for a moment and honestly consider the so-called skeptics arguments. I have been convinced. You will be viciously attacked if you do change your mind, but I think a careful re-examination of the facts will persuade you.
Best wishes.

Joe McKenney (not verified)
October 9th 2010, 10:47 pm

I enjoyed reading the revised edition to Hot, Flat and Crowded. Equally, I have enjoyed your comments every time I have had the opportunity to see you on television. As a Professional Engineer, privately practicing in the field of risk management, I was intrigued by your remark that we invest so much treasure seeking less than a 1% risk of large scale terrorism attack (i.e. nuclear) yet so little to manage the risk of climate change—a life threatening risk that easily exceeds 50%.

You have also done a good job of articulating the reasons we must change our outdated methods of funding infrastructure, achieving energy efficiency and providing energy generation. Perhaps I can offer a remark that I have been using in my last few presentations. The statement—If we all drove electric cars, the bridges would fall down—seems to attract genuine thought and encourage listening.

When people realize bridges need gas taxes, it invites the conversation about our flawed consumption based method for funding infrastructure. We then expand on alternate infrastructure sustaining mechanisms. Consider the premise (like everyone deserves health care) of minimum metrics for infrastructure (X% reliable power at Y% connected load translated into dollars) then develop rate structures that support basic requirements. This concept invites practical alternatives to connecting at all. Examine utility and transportation regulations that mandate specific means of connectivity or capacity using mathematical models that allow for alternatives. For example: a utility company could offer bio-diesel backed solar generation on a flat monthly rate for the farm that is three miles from the nearest transformer. Utilities and customers would participate on both sides of the meter.

Basically it is a simple anecdotal way to bring attention to one of the issues addressed in your book: decoupling.

Good luck with furthering this message and hopefully we will see structured national attention to these critical issues. Keep up the good work.

Wayne A. Dunn PE (not verified)
October 4th 2010, 9:39 pm

Mr. Friedman,

I have been working on my triple bottom line for about six years now. I am not a "green" guy in the traditional, liberal sense. Rather, I am a khaki green capitalist that happens to get it. I understand how improving my firm's sustainability is actually my true competitive advantage in the marketplace. My operational effectiveness has improved also. Therefore, working on sustainability is both strategic and tactical at the same time.

I am currently installing the largest solar photovoltaic system in my state--Missouri. Why? When I inherited the operations of my current facility, we were using 347,000kWh of electricity per year. I knew this was too much and through energy efficiency and very little cash, I lowered by electricity usage to 147,000kWh last year. With my solar panels, I will effectively lower my energy consumption from the original 347,000 to less than 10,000kWh per year. My payback is less than 7 years no matter how one slices it.

I have had many friends in industry ask me how I did this and why does not everyone know about sustainability. I usually tell them that folks are not open to new ideas or it becomes a political issue or there is no money in the bank to invest. I then further explain that these are excuses. My firm and I understand how we can be more competitive through sustainable strategies and also understand how the new green economy will work. I spend a vast amount of time (free) trying to educate my community on this subject. I am now extremely pleased to not only utilize my skills and knowledge obtained through experience but can now also point them to your work.

I have a white paper on my firm's work if you are interested in taking a look at how a small firm can change their way of doing business and migrate to a more sustainable future.

Randy Lewis

Randy Lewis (not verified)
September 29th 2010, 10:06 am

Mr. Friedman asked, what will President Obama do? Not a whole lot, it seems. Check out this link:

Roger Wehage (not verified)
September 13th 2010, 8:15 pm

Before I read Hot, Flat, and Crowded, I was aware that global warming existed but like the majority of Americans, I was apathetic in regards to our environment because I didn’t know the extent to which it harmed our planet. I had no idea about clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation, and especially their link to petropolitics and nation-building in America. Nor was I aware of the brief amount of time we have left to find innovative solutions to save the planet and that by taking the lead in saving the planet, we can re-establish America as the most powerful country in the world. This book has definitely opened my eyes and inspired me to join the Green Revolution, as I’m sure it has to everyone else that has read the book. I really appreciate the time, effort, and dedication you put into this book to spread awareness and I’m sure that the success of your first four books has given you a large audience base for this book. However, while your book is reaching many people across the world, the only problem is that it is limited to adults; most children and teens would not touch a non-fiction book about the environment and even if they did, it is unlikely that they would understand the technicalities and complexities behind some of the ideas mentioned in the book.

In my opinion, kids should have a strong foundation on the subject of the environment and it should be taught in all elementary, middle, and high schools. It deserves a place next to math, science, and English, and having a course on the environment would give kids a broader base of knowledge regarding the issue and might inspire them to pursue professions in that area. Kids are the future and it is essential that they are well-educated so that we are able to go through with the Green Revolution and compete with other countries to most efficiently green our country. I would also like to point out that I agree with the other blogger who wrote that people in environmental professions should get tax incentives. In the book, you mentioned that engineers should be required to take a course on energy efficiency. I think that all kids right from the start should be knowledgeable about clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation, and that knowledge should be fostered to them right from when they begin first grade. In addition, in college, engineers shouldn’t be the only ones required to take a course on energy efficiency. In fact, I believe that a course on the environment should be part of the core curriculum in all colleges. Knowledge fuels awareness and innovation, and they are both greatly needed in America today.

Raising awareness is essential for a greener future. Another way we can raise awareness is by hosting a reality show or some type of nationwide competition in which families compete to conserve resources. The competition will be free for all and anyone can sign up to participate. Success will be measured by bills (electricity, water, etc) with respect to the number of people in the household and bonus points can be awarded to families who go out and take additional steps to go green (pick up trash, plant trees, etc). In addition, if any family comes up with an energy efficient device, they will receive extra points as well. The family that wins will get prize money, free installments of solar panels, and a hybrid car, and the runner-ups will get free installments of solar panels and a hybrid car. To ensure that families that participated will continue to maintain their “green status” after the competition is over, they will get some kind of prize every year they maintain their status. Depending on the popularity of this show, it can be run every year. And if this reality show or nationwide competition does happen to gain popularity, it may soon be watched in other countries. Often times, many popular reality shows in America are copied by foreign countries, and if that were to happen, that would be a huge success.

Another idea would be to appeal to popular shows that have huge audiences, such as American Idol, to include a 30 second segment on their show that informs the audience of the necessity of going green, the dangers if we don’t, and some meaningful actions they can take. We should also try to lobby the government to encourage the most watched TV channels to show documentaries during popular hours that spread awareness about the environment and urge popular kids’ channels such as cartoon network and Disney to incorporate some type of environmental awareness into their shows as well. They should also try to get movie producers to raise awareness in their movies. If any channel, show, or movie proves successful in raising awareness, they would get recognition and awards from the government (perhaps the president) and/or environmental groups, which would help them gain free publicity and make them look good.

As you mentioned in your book, the government is very essential in leading the Green Revolution but it is unfortunately not taking enough steps to do so. It is not allotting enough funds for basic research to tackle the green problem. Hopefully as more people gain knowledge about the issue and awareness spreads, more people will lobby and appeal to politicians to prioritize the issue. Funds aside for now, environmental groups can appeal to the government for greater regulations and restrictions. For example, the government should mandate the compulsory cutting down of each family’s supply of water, electricity, etc, depending on the number of people in the family. I know that Pepco gave people the option of signing up to have their electricity cut during the summer for a certain period of time, during the hours people were out of the house and in return, it would reduce their bill by a certain amount. Many people signed up because they were working during the times the electricity was cut and so they were not affected.

The government should also encourage more people to use public transportation by making parking expensive and public transportation frequent, easily accessible, and affordable. Most people don’t want to walk to far away bus stops nor do they want to have to deal with switching buses and calculating different routes. If public transportation became less complicated and parking became more expensive, more and more people would begin using public transportation and we would see fewer cars on the road. Another conservation idea would be to make all books and schools textbooks available online. Fewer trees would be cut and students wouldn’t have to lug around heavy backpacks on their shoulders. I am aware that there are quite a few people that don’t really like reading books online; for them, the library’s always an option. In addition, if most schools put their assignments up online and students hand in work electronically, so much paper would be saved. This may seem to be a difficult task at first glance, but so many people are already using their computers for school work and many teachers are having students hand in work online that the transition shouldn’t be too difficult. Talking about schools, in all Montgomery County Public Schools, students are required to complete a minimum of 75 student service learning hours by the end of high school in order to graduate. If the superintendent made it compulsory for at least 25 of the 75 hours to be environmentally oriented (spreading awareness, testing water quality, conducting research, etc), students may develop an interest in the field and wish to pursue it in the future. And if all the counties in the country implemented this as well, it would be a start!

Another idea would be for all hotel brands, such as Hilton, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Marriott etc. to have requirements that ensure that their hotels are environmentally friendly. Some ideas would be to change the lighting to LED, utilize energy efficient heating and air conditioning units, heat pools using geothermal energy or solar panels, use energy efficient windows to minimize the loss of heat and air conditioning, turn off all office computers when they are not in use, assess all high electric consumption equipment (for example elevators, chillers, and boilers) and try to make them more energy efficient, use cold water laundry machines instead of hot water laundry machines so that the water doesn’t have to be heated, and give guests the option of having their sheets washed or re-used. All newly constructed hotels must be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. LEED is a rating system used to categorize the level of environmentally sustainable construction in sustainable buildings. In return for going green, the hotels should get tax incentives from the government.

I hope that some of these ideas would give America the boost it needs to begin the Green Revolution and to inspire other countries to renew themselves and planet Earth. I wish you good luck on chapter 18.

Anonymous (not verified)
August 22nd 2010, 12:52 pm

The polar shift on December 21, 2012 will reset the Human Cycle

Joe Snyder (not verified)
July 25th 2010, 11:50 pm

During the first 10 years of the 21st Century, the United States has squandered whatever previous greatness it retained because of an interest in a revamped version of Wilsonian Idealism which involved rebuilding various parts of the world in order to spread democracy and build up potential economic trade partners.

If "nation-building" is inevitable and needed to correct the fragile state of the international order, then couldn't America use green and alternative energy to build and dominate a new industry and also use this economic power to "nation-build" the rest of the world through economic means? Basically, it would essentially be the World's New Deal, or another Marshall Plan.

We can obviously build jobs in America through green technology. However, the fate of the planet matters to us all, and if it is neglected, correcting ourselves would prove to be useless if pollution still remains in other parts of the world. Couldn't America possibly benefit from an international project for Clean Energy in addition to a domestic project for Clean Energy?

There's a lot of debate that the Iraq War was fought over energy, so why would energy stop being a factor in the rest of the world? Wouldn't America, as the world's de facto police, need to spread clean and effective energy in order to maintain stability in these fragile regions? Not to mention that the poverty that exists in these regions can be eradicated if we were to lift the economy with green technology projects.

Daniel Plainview (not verified)
July 18th 2010, 2:55 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman:
Before we can "turn Green" we have to free the USA from dependence on oil for gasoline. During WW two Germany had developed a method of extracting gasoline from coal and was well on the way to supplying the entire needs of Germany for oil. In the USA as late as 2009 The University of Texas at Arlington had perfected a process of extracting gasoline from coal at a cost of $24.00 per barrel. Yet not one word of this has been seen in the news media. Why? The USA has unlimited sources of coal available and the existing refineries could be used to refine the coal process. The present mess in the gulf could have been prevented if we had used coal for gasoline.

John Foy (not verified)
June 13th 2010, 2:49 pm

In "Going Green: Talk or Action" you write of the disparity between what Americans say, and what they do.

For the final in my High School Humanities class, I present my students with a challenge. We study the current problems facing our world today, and they have to propose solutions.

I use a picture of your house (11,500 square feet), along with your article to teach how Hypocrisy and inaction will not help us.

PWortmann (not verified)
May 24th 2010, 12:45 pm

Mr. Friedman,
I work at the nexus of the water and energy infrastructure world. I live near the Chesapeake Bay and am heavily invested in the ideas that can help improve our water quality and capture wasted energy. There are many new ideas that are emerging in this space such as algae-oil and MFC's (microbial fuel cells) that harvest energy from municipal and industrial wastewater. When these concepts are sorted out and properly commercialized, we will be at the dawn of a new era.

However today, as our infrastructure consumes significant amounts of energy while we treat our waste, the residuals produced by the wastewater treatment processes... "biosolids" are simply land applied or land filled.

My team is promoting technologies that use simple and readily available methods which incorporate passive solar energy and are turning waste biosolids into "brown coal" for use in industrial applications (cement kilns). This dried organic material burns cleaner than coal and is essentially another source of renewable energy.

In fact, the cement industry could use all of the municipal biosolids produced in the USA and it would still need significantly more coal to power its kilns. In an ideal world, we would never land apply or landfill bio-sludge again, but use it for its beneficial value as a renewable fuel. That would be a win-win-win situation between industry, society and our environment.

- Rob

Robert Kershner (not verified)
April 12th 2010, 2:54 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman,
Greetings from Dili, Timor-Leste, where Internet access and speed are problematic (for various reasons). I am writing to you using the Chapter 18 site because I don't have any other way to get in touch with you. I am referring to one point raised in your book "The World is Flat" - much faster Internet speed in other countries (Korea vs. US, for example). The recent article "No easy solution for America's broadband problems" in MONEY magazine prompted me to write to you today. Very shortly, upon return to the US, I will be living in a rural area (WV) and will have to pay dearly for high-speed Internet access (only one provider), which I need for professional reasons. I hope you will be able to write in one or the other of your commentaries about the topic of fast internet access not as a priviliege but as an economic necessity for America's ability to compete in the international market place, and that we simply can't be #15 in the world if we want to claim world leadership in science & technology etc. Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to reading your work. Kind regards, Elke Ender, Adviser/Timor-Leste Ministry of Education.

Elke Ender (not verified)
March 16th 2010, 9:22 pm

Is there an independently verifiable and trustworthy but also comprehensive assessment of whatever suppression of peer review 'Climate-gate' has exposed? If so, would you please direct me to that source?

What are the political implications now that we're ~ 2 1/2 months since 'Climate-gate'?

david kantz (not verified)
February 21st 2010, 8:54 pm

I'm so sorry!

At the last comment I wrote wrongly:


Silvio Vasconcellos (not verified)
February 16th 2010, 8:20 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman:

It would be very helpful to read about Dr. Luiz Carlos Molion's ideas. There is warming int the Earth. In opposite, temperature is going down since 1998.
Look for it!

PS: I just have read The World is Flat. Congratulations!

Silvio Vasconcellos
Novo Hamburgo RS

Silvio Vasconcellos (not verified)
February 16th 2010, 8:16 pm

Mr. Friedman,
Comments on HFC. Sorry forthe long length.

You are educated in prominent western universities, Brandeis, and Oxford, educated in the western doctrine.

Friedman: HFC, pg 211 "I am big believer in the notion that to name something is to own it." This is the principle idea that has lead to our present unfortunate situation. From the Bible book of Genesis:
Genesis 1:26, 1:28 and fill the Earth and subdue it.
Genesis 2:19, the beasts and the fowl. If I name them then I have dominion over them.

“I have dominion over natural resources. I can use them as I see fit to advance my interest. Because the word of God gives me license to subdue the Earth.” This defines my relationship with discrete natural resources. I understand my relationship to discrete natural resources (that I exploit to meet my need).

This does not define my relationship with nature. In this philosophical basis, do not understand my relationship to nature, The part that is missing is the fact that I have a responsibility and obligation to my world.

Natural resources are concrete and discrete, while nature is abstract, ethereal. Western business thought understands the discrete and concrete. It does no deal well with the abstract.

This underlying principle that is the foundation of all western business thought. It is the foundation for the growth model of business and sits in polar opposition to the idea of sustainability. It is the base philosophical under pin to justify unrestrained consumption of scare natural resource for short term personal gain. “It is our Manifest Destiny” and American Entrepreneurs adopted this model more aggressively than most others. These ideas are ingrained in western business teaching. To make a sustainable model for our world, Western business thinking must begin to understand our relationship with nature.

At the start of HFC, 2.0 you discuss sustainability. There are models for sustainable societies. Hunter gatherer societies follow the model of sustainability. These societies recognize their connectedness to nature. These societies grow population to a sustainable level and then no more. They cooperate internally to maintain the stability of the system; they compete with external rivals for resource and territory. Across the world hunter gathers lived in stable situation for thousands of years. The primitive people understood the process of consumption (Demand) and regeneration (Supply) are linked in a closed system. To take a resource, like the taking of a buffalo, was a sacred religious act and no part of the “gift” was wasted to do so would have been blasphemous. This is true for “Primitive” societies worldwide from the Arctic to Indonensia, to Austrailia, to the Kalahari to South America. They all understood and held these “Truths to be Self-Evident”

How could they accomplish this incredible feat of sustainability? Advanced technology? Actually, yes. But we did not recognize it as such. (But that is another subject.) Their real competitive advantage over us is in their relationship with their world. Their thinking was far more sophisticated and advanced than our own. In these terms – they were light years ahead of us.
Still how was it possible to be sustainable over millennia? Not all societies made it. Our might not either. For those who made it, the answer, they are governed by oral traditions. Oral traditions evolve over time. As their situation changed – they adapted their traditions to “correct” the system. The western tradition with roots in the bible, which is a written tradition, is fixed. There is no easy mechanism to evolve the teaching because those with the right to change it, the authors – are gone.

So this is a question that must be addressed for sustainability.

The world is a system. Closed loop. All closed loop systems will seek equilibrium. Consumption, taking, demand << >> Resources, regeneration, supply. (Some cannot be regenerated.)

There was global balance until 1750, the onset of the IR. That is the first tipping point. It has been crossed. You basically proved that in your book. In 1750 the influence of the hand of man was strong enough to drive the system out of balance. So that is 250 years of pushing the pendulum to one side. Man or nature would need to push the pendulum bad the same distance for 250 years to restore the balance. 1950 was the second tipping point. It has already been crossed. The insult to the system raised by an order of magnitude at that point. Man or nature would need to push the pendulum back an equal distance the other way to cancel the effect of that insult. But now the insult grows. As the world westernizes and seeks the American model, the magnitude of the insult grows.

Western thought is driven by the idea of dominion over nature which was transformed into manifest destiny. It is a “taking” based Philosophy. It looks at the demand side of the equation. It ignores the regeneration and supply part.

Should we abandon technology? No. We should recognize it in all forms.

The salient point here is that the pace of technological development has for a long time outpaced society’s ability to management. We have the knowledge. We lack the wisdom. Where the technological owner’s manual? We do not have one and as a society our track record developing one is abysmal. It is obstructed by the profit motive.

If mankind is to succeed in bring the System Earth back into a sustainable equilibrium, we must develop the philosophical basis to do so. Without it – our chance of success is very low. But make no mistake – the system will equilibrate. But if the scenario plays out near a worst case scenario – then the ability of the earth to provide sustenance to the people will be compromised beyond our expectations and so bad things will likely happen. I think that in the book you consistently understate the potential negative outcomes. The billions in poverty will be impacted worst and billions will likely starve to death. The picture for the other is not good.

So what to do?
• Recognize the relationship that mankind has with nature. (See the book Black Elk Speaks.)
• Revise business school dogma to eliminate the idea of open ended growth (which is not sustainable). Of course this raises the question of what to put in its place. How can capitalism survive? It will change.
• Teach the “System of Nature”, balance of consumption and regeneration. Business endeavors must support this model.
• Technological innovation driven by government incentives. 8 of 15 is not enough. 15 of 15 is likely not enough. Try 30 of 30.
• Government disincentives for abusive and insulting behaviors.
• Plant trees, everywhere.
• Large scale efforts for energy solutions. (The nightmare scenario is not that oil runs out. The nightmare scenario is that oil and coal do not run out.) But the idea that it is OK to burn something to make something move is dead. May it rest in peace. Enterprise solutions for large scale enterprise.
• Create the industry to retrofit for energy sustainability - an EU is way ahead of the US on that one. Want a model? New Orleans architecture from 80 years ago. Adobe construction from 80 years ago. The models exist and energy sustainability was built in to the designs. “Low tech” and awesome. I guess that means that they were really “High Tech” doesn’t it?
• Exclude no options including “Low Tech”. Include all options. You are correct – many of the best ideas will come from the people.

JPR (not verified)
January 24th 2010, 6:52 pm

Some of the problems that exist in the United States have been remedied by other countries. Consider Mass Rapid Transit:The solution in the United Staes is to build more moter vehicles. They will need more roads, use large amounts of land and petrolium products. This "Spinning the Wheels" has created a way of life and jobs. Make money this quarter and ignore the long term has resulted in inferior products. Japan produces better motor vehicles because they are focused on the future. That is just one example.

There is no quick solution to the jobs problem. Reducing the manufacturing of motor vehicles and the service they need in exchange for the efficiency of Mass-Rapid Trandit Is an overwhelming problem for the United States. Greed and infighting are making the United States an also-ran in the world order. In en years where will we be ranked, China, India, Brazil...US

William H East (not verified)
December 23rd 2009, 2:31 pm

I have added an article in my blog about the use of Vetiver in carbon sequestration. Combined with its merits in soil conservation and stabilization, this plant can be an extremely effective contributor towards fighting global warming. See

Alberto Rodriguez (not verified)
September 23rd 2009, 12:05 pm

First, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the book. I'm a high-school senior in Montgomery County, MD, and was assigned Hot, Flat, and Crowded as summer reading material (making it one of the few summer assignments I've actually enjoyed).

How America can institute a green revolution has already been discussed in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. If America’s government creates the regulatory structure and incentives to re-shape the free market into a green market, America can become a truly green nation. But reshaping America is not enough. Although the United States is the world’s largest per capita emitter of CO2 and the largest consumer of dirty fuels, in a flat and crowded world, reforming one nation’s economy is not enough. China now emits more carbon dioxide than the United States, and hundreds of millions of people in China and India are on the verge of climbing out of poverty and into the middle class, and consuming more and more dirty fuel.
In short, greening America is not enough. China, India, and indeed the entire developed world, must go green as well. And therein lies the true challenge of beating global warming: as difficult it is for concerned Americans to start a green revolution in America, it is infinitely more difficult for concerned Americans to start a green revolution in China and India. While non-governmental organizations like Conservation International have played an important role, the true burden of greening China and India falls upon the backs of America’s policymakers.
While advancing green revolutions in China and India is a gargantuan task, it is not an impossible one. The United States of America is the number-one trading partner of both China and India, meaning that America holds tremendous economic sway over both nations. We have a symbiotic relationship; we depend on them, and they depend on us. And they will be forced to listen—and, more importantly, to act—if we show that we are serious about going green. If America fundamentally changes its foreign import policy, we can not only strengthen our own economic base, but make a critical step towards reversing global warming.
A double-standard exists in America today. It is no secret that American manufacturers are at a distinct disadvantage when compared to their foreign counterparts. Any product manufactured in the United States is subject to a complex network of regulations—OSHA regulations, environmental regulations, wage requirements, etc—that, while necessary to protect both the producer and consumer, add definite manufacturing costs. However, anything manufactured overseas—and thusly beyond the jurisdiction of OSHA, the FDA, the EPA, and all other government organizations—escapes the costs added by government regulation. This is why so many manufacturing jobs have migrated overseas, to under-regulated, underdeveloped countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, China, and India. Why make a pair of sneakers for twenty dollars in America when you can make it for five in Lesotho? Not only does this double standard bring up economic and humanitarian concerns, as manufacturing becomes centered in oppressive sweat shops and not in American factories, but it has environmental implications as well. When companies move factories from Michigan to Manchuria, they not only begin paying as little as they want, but polluting as much as they want.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an American company that’s moved its factories to China or a Chinese company that’s selling the products of its factories in America, when America enforces tighter restrictions on its own products than its imports—in essence, favoring foreign products over American ones—it hurts the environment just as much as it does the American economy. By favoring under-regulated imports, America is favoring products made from dirty, CO2-spewing foreign factories over (relatively) clean American factories, and doing just as much to hurt the environment as we are by driving gas-guzzling SUVs and propping up petrodictators. America needs to change its import policies, or whatever domestic greening America undergoes will be meaningless.
What I propose is a gradual raising of standards on foreign imports so that within ten to fifteen years all products produced overseas will be held to the same environmental standards as all products made here in America. In a world that is flat and getting hotter and more crowded every day, it is not enough for America alone to go green. The developed world, in addition to going green itself, much ensure that developing nations—China and India in particular—also go green. China and India cannot continue to grow, and cannot continue to lift millions of the citizens out of poverty, without continuing to export billions and billions of dollars worth of goods to America. If America asks more of them, and provides them with a reasonable amount of time to adapt, they will have no choice but to comply. If America says it will not buy dirty products, China and India will be forced to start producing clean products. The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and even the Chinese government have been unable to force a green revolution on the Chinese economy. Just like the U.S. must put the right kind of targeted pressure on its own economy to adapt or die, and become green, the U.S. must similarly put pressure on China and India to adapt or die and make their markets green markets.
Before America can fix the world, we must fix ourselves. But it is imperative that as soon as we have had our own green revolution, we must spread the revolution worldwide. China and India, who, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, will by 2050 have a combined population of 3.2 billion—approximately one-third of the total world population—cannot stay dirty. A world with a green America but a dirty China and a dirty India will still be a dirty world. America must lead, but America cannot merely hope that China and India will come along; America must act with caution, but must be decisive when action is called for. America needs to put the necessary pressure on the developing nations of the world to ensure that they develop in a clean, sustainable manner, for their benefit and for ours. Because in a world that is hot, flat, and crowded, the actions of one nation are not enough, and calamity will not be prevented without the concerted effort of all.

R.C. Gifford (not verified)
September 8th 2009, 7:04 pm

Upon reading your book I was immediately captivated. You are absolutely correct Americans should lead the world into the Green Era. When traveling to poorer nations like the Philippines and Mexico I did notice all the American influences there and how other countries’ citizens model their lives against the lives of Americans. They want to emulate Americans lives. They want to be Americans. They want to live in a mini America, if they cannot live in America themselves. And what better example can we provide than an example to work toward reducing carbon emissions and more renewable energy sources. However, I believe that we should start this change by educating the masses of our American youth first and foremost about the problems the world will face if we do not take action against the harmful ways we are polluting our planet and in reality ourselves.
I propose that, just as Health Class is mandatory for every public-school student to take in elementary, middle, and high school that there be a mandatory environment class. In this class, students will learn ways they can reduce their waste emissions and what they can re-use and recycle. Here in this class they can explore fun crafts they can make with recyclable materials from around the house instead of wasting electricity by just playing their electronic games. In this class students will also learn the cause and effects of wasting water, how polar bears and other loved animals are losing their habitats due to our selfish wants. In this class, students will learn the harmful effects of landfills, how marine life is dying because of water contamination from waste, how over-harvesting of natural resources and animals can lead to extinction, like how the Yangtze River dolphin has now become extinct because of over fishing of their main food source in the river. It is through our country’s youth that most change can occur, and the hope for a more environmentally friendly future can succeed. It is the kids whose ideas propel our country forward and by educating them on the pollution American habits have produced they will want to make a change.
I also propose that we start to ban bottled water. Every house, restaurant, and building should be equipped with a water filtering system and people will have to buy an aluminum water holder if they want portable water. Bottled water is both expensive and “generates large amounts of container waste” according to the World Watch Institute.
I furthermore propose that people stop buying new homes. Homes cost huge amounts of money and require a lot of construction adding to the pollution in the world. Cutting down or invading natural forests and habitats to build a mansion or even an apartment complex is utterly ridiculous and self-serving. From now on, new homes should not be built but old homes renovated and fields, forest, and all other natural habitats that man are clearing to build the “latest and greatest” homes shall cease.
Borrowing shall also become a way of life. Bookstores should be closed down and in their place libraries. If a person wants to enjoy a book they will have to borrow it from the library, this will save ink and paper, not to mention money. Movies and CDs shall also cease to be sold but also borrowed from the library. People should also start a community electronic appliance share, here a group of neighbors say about three families should share the use of electronics such as a lawnmower, drill, and electric saw. This way people will be able to better get to know their neighbors along side of cutting down the amount of factory production of electronic tools, in the long run cutting down on carbon emissions made from large factories.
In addition I propose that there be a mandatory recycling of electronic devices. “E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem” according to World Watch Institute. Which also calls for people to hang onto their electronics till they will no longer work any longer and it is utterly necessary for them to be replaced.
All cleaning supplies from now on should also be non-toxic and made of organic ingredients. People could even make their own cleaning supplies from baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap. This will overall improve the air quality inside a house and ultimately the world if everyone follows suit.
These suggestions I know are incredibly difficult for the average American to follow because we are so set in our ways but by first ingraining this information into our children and the youth this process will be second nature to them and the future of our planet will be brighter, not warmer, than it is today.

a.suller (not verified)
August 30th 2009, 8:38 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman:

First of all, I am so glad I read your book. It truly opened my eyes the growing issue of climate change. I knew it was a huge problem, but I had no idea that change is occurring so quickly, and that the consequences are going to become severe much more quickly than anticipated. I hope more people continue to read this book, as I think our country really needs a wake-up call.

I do, in fact, have a suggestion for Chapter 18. I believe the food industry should be discussed, as current food industry issues correspond with issues presented in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. The energy and resources required to process, package, and transport food across the globe is the “umbrella” problem, but others such as unsanitary processing practices, loss of biodiversity, and health consequences for consumers must also be addressed.

Americans often take for granted the fact that almost all varieties of produce are available year-round. They forget that a large quantity of the produce we eat has traveled thousands of miles before reaching the grocery store. Not only does food transportation consume enormous amounts of energy; widespread, repeated handling of food during processing and packaging increases the chances of food-borne illness.

While it would be nice to completely trust the individuals who package and process our food, the harsh reality is that the USDA and FDA can only do so much in ensuring food safety. According to William Hubbard, “In the 1970s, the FDA would conduct roughly 35,000 food inspections, visiting the 70,000 processing facilities in this country every other year” (Arnold 24). However, today, “the FDA can inspect only 7,000 facilities each year, yet the number of plants as increased to 120,000” (Arnold 24). Clearly, this is a problem of funding and regulation—two issues you emphasized in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. If more funding was directed to the USDA and FDA, more regulation would occur, and our food would be safer.

Now, I’m going to open another can of worms: livestock production. According to Jane Black, “livestock production generates nearly one-fifth of greenhouse-gas emissions” (28). No federal regulations currently exist to protect the lives of farm animals, even though, on some industrial livestock facilities, workers “routinely debeak the chickens or dock the tails of cows and hogs” without anesthetics, to ensure that animals do not bite or swat each other while living in close quarters (Black 29). The more animals are crowded into a small living space, the greater the chances of food contamination.

Additionally, these animals are fed regular doses of antibiotics and hormones which enable them to grow faster and thus meet the demands of the market. Much of these antibiotics and hormones transfer to the animals’ waste, which is then sprayed onto farm fields as fertilizer, potentially ending up in drinking wells and groundwater. “Constant, low-level exposure to antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, as well as drug-resistant infections in humans,” which cause thousands of deaths each year (Black 30). As you stated in Hot, Flat, and Crowded, regulation is seriously lacking in energy production. Undoubtedly, unless more food industry regulation is implemented, food contamination will only become more prevalent.

Finally, I come to the issue of the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity loss was a huge issue you addressed in Hot, Flat and Crowded. In addition to the loss of biodiversity in wild animal and plant species, biodiversity has also been lost in the food we eat. Overall, “reduced crop and animal diversity (about 90 percent of food energy now comes from just 15 plant and eight animal species) in favor of streamlined efficiency has destroyed distinctive flavors and increased the risk of widespread disease” (Black 29). In addition to these consequences, biodiversity loss presents other issues. Genetically engineered crops, whose DNA are altered to produce increased amounts of food and withstand certain pesticides, for instance, can sometimes require the use of even more chemicals because they are resistant to frequent spraying.

While the above issues are large-scale domestic problems, I do have a few solutions for Americans. I know, this may seem like a “205 Easy Ways to Save the Earth” kind of blog posting, but just hear me out.

The local food movement is increasing in popularity in the United States. Individuals across America are joining CSA (community supported agriculture) programs. For a fee, these programs provide weekly shares of eggs, produce, and sometimes homemade breads and meat from a local farm. Why not just by these at the grocery store, you ask? By purchasing food—especially meat, produce, and eggs—from a local farm, the risk of food contamination and subsequent illness is drastically decreased, as it travels directly from the farm to the regional pickup location without processing. Also, the “carbon footprint” made from the food transportation is not nearly as significant, as the food did not have to travel from across the globe—probably just across a county line. Finally, the quality of the produce is much better! Many CSAs are even using organic or other “clean food practices,” which include pesticide- and hormone-free growing.

If consumers stick to local produce, from either CSAs or farm markets, they will also learn the benefits of eating seasonally. Americans often forget that, based on the region in which you live (with the exception of California), all produce does not grow year-round. For example, in Montgomery County, MD, the fall crop usually consists of salad greens, herbs, squashes, pumpkins, potatoes, and apples, and the summer crop nearly always consists of peppers, tomatoes, corn, beans, some potatoes, asparagus (briefly), mushrooms, carrots, and squash. My family joined a CSA last fall, and we bought an additional share this summer and we plan to do the same this fall. We know that, if we continue to eat local produce year-round, we will not, for example, be able to eat local corn (among other vegetables) during the winter. So, we take half of the produce from our CSA box each week, blanch it, and freeze it in vacuum-seal bags. As a result, we will have delicious, high-quality, ready-to-eat produce throughout the winter!

Eating locally may have even further benefits. For instance, in Hot, Flat, and Crowded, you mention what “living the American dream” in contemporary society truly implies—living a life of excess. Maybe, if Americans adjusted their eating habits and focused on eating locally, with the exception of items such as olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, and some herbs and seasonings, they would become more inclined to live in moderation instead of simply living the “on demand” lifestyle of buying whatever food they want whenever they want it.

If more people make the choice to join CSA organizations, they will be able to support smaller farms and agricultural businesses, many of whom are struggling because of the economic crisis, instead of supporting the enormous agribusinesses that often have unethical and unsanitary practices.

Speaking of the economic crisis, I realize that it is difficult for lower-income populations to buy produce—organic or not—very often. So, why not grow your own vegetables and herbs? You save money, and you know exactly where your food is coming from, and can ensure that it is not contaminated. And, if you freeze or can part of what you grow, you can enjoy delicious, home-grown produce off-season. You also mentioned in Hot, Flat, and Crowded that individuals are often skeptical about purchasing newer, more energy-efficient appliances for their homes, as they cost a lot initially, but provide greater savings in the long run. However, countless individuals and families are fighting (or have fought) to keep their homes due to threats of foreclosure. Right now, it will be difficult to persuade a large number of people to make these investments. So, I suggest they start small, and support the local food movement.

I realize that, with respect to the food industry situation, change needs to be made on a large scale (government regulation) as well as a small scale (the American people). Regulation is probably the most important and could possibly be the most influential; however, the healthcare system and the economic crisis are currently consuming the federal agenda, and it is important that, in the meantime, Americans do as much as they can on their own to demonstrate their support for the local food movement and, consequently, our planet.

Works Cited

Arnold, Katie. "Eat Smart." Body and Soul Sept. 2009: 23-25. Print.

Black, Jane. “America’s Farms & You.” Body and Soul Sept. 2009: 28-31. Print.

C. Rubin, 17, M... (not verified)
August 30th 2009, 9:54 am

First off, this is a great book. Although I am not finished quite yet with reading, there is something that strikes me as odd.
You generally point our that Europe and Japan have managed to live a different live with a much smaller footprint. I am European, but have lived in the US and in China for a long time as well, so I certainly am very aware of the differences and see how China likes to copy all the is wrong with America.

What is odd, though, is that you say we need to innovate, invent. While there is certainly a need for that, I would argue that the US, China and India could make giant savings by simply copying more from Europe and Japan than from the US. In Shanghai, most buildings (including very recent ones) have no insulation, the most inefficient way of heating (via aircon), no central warm water and aircon provisioning and single pane windows.
Fixing that, would change energy waste and stimulate the economy.

None of this requires innovation, it only requires the right kind of policies.

Thomas Boltze (not verified)
August 20th 2009, 11:52 pm

In reading the section on utility companies and how they need to keep some generators at standby to be able to react to peek power demands I would make a suggestion. The utilities should build simple hydrogen generators to convert water to Oxygen and hydrogen and store the hydrogen. This can then be used later to generate electrical and thus reduce the peaks and valleys. At the same time we would begin to build up the infastructure for hydrogen for the future.

Marc Rowan (not verified)
August 12th 2009, 2:36 pm

We are bringing energy education for the real estate community and offering our green educational certification program through local associations so consumers will be shown how to save on electric bills through the real estate community. We train Home and Building Inspectors, Mortgage Professionals and Realtors®. We all know the built structure is zapping energy and utility bills are off the charts across the globe- so who else is in a better position to effect change than those who spend their careers inside of properties everyday- These professionals are always asked how to improve a home or property for value- wow- what an opportunity to put value on greening a built structure-teaching this sector on how to offer information on products and systems for consumers to do green upgrades, get energy mortgages that will lower greenhouse gas emissions can make a difference- They will represent properties and homes and need to know how to help people wake up-

We have trained over 5,000 nationwide as they spread the message to help consumer lower utility bills and save energy. I thought I would let you know of us. Education in the private sector is crucial for change- Attaching continuing education credits for license renewal makes them a captive audience.
Green Real Estate Education offers the fastest growing “green education certification programs” in the US for those in the real estate arena.

For Realtors® and Mortgage Professionals, each in these professions can reach between 100-300 homeowners a year, In a class of 50, up to 15,000 homeowners in a region are reached through the viral marketing this sector does on an on going basis.

We are beginning to offer partnership opportunities to companies that produce energy efficient and smart appliances, solar products, green products, energy efficient HVAC, renewable energy products, and offer exposure to specific brands to these students to be placed in our manuals so students can share this information with clients. We offer innovative outreach such as the suggestion of mini eco-expos to expose green products and systems and the people who represent them in the marketplace- Everyone wins- We teach Realtors and Mortgage professionals how to conduct energy outreach with energy awareness seminars- bringing energy efficient mortgage concepts, energy raters into the community through the real estate industry- Consumers look to this profession to guide them on their real estate investment and since it is one of the major contributors to green house gas emissions, those in the real estate industry have a obligation to get involved- I felt we needed to educate these sectors, offer them continuing education credits for license renewal- to learn and offer certifications they can market, a logo they can use in their marketing and draw attention to greening a property and to market their new positioning as a green certified professional-
Can you see how we can effect change and that this offers education for the consumer in a professional way? We are excited and I am sure you sense my passion. I personally have 400 transactions under my belt over a 14 year career- So helping the real estate and mortgage industries to reinvent itself is another motivator. Talk about win-win-

Kerry Mitchell (not verified)
August 8th 2009, 8:19 pm

In response to "The World is Flat" I found myself wondering how it is possible for America to find its pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit again. I eventually came upon an idea that could possibly help America to become educationally competitive with the likes of China and India once again; in this idea I think it implies increased prolificness of green-oriented innovation.

Problem: America is beginning to lag behind other nations in academic performance and training of top-notch graduates for the top creative and 'green' jobs of the near future. I would argue part of this performance gap is due to a general national 'attitude' that has developed which encourages mediocrity (mostly in an implicit fashion) as opposed to excellence.

Suggestion: It seems that we as a nation have spent a lot of money to provide programs to individuals who need to be supported (welfare, social security, etc.). This is not an assault against these programs-- on the contrary I agree that we need to provide support for individuals in need; however, there is one thing that I think is fairly certain: these programs don't provide much in the way of return on investment.

What I would suggest would be an variation on the tax break incentive one receives with increased dependents. If we take for granted that the areas in which we need to improve very quickly are science and math, why not provide increased tax exemption for 1) people who earn degrees in federally designated 'critical areas' (e.g. engineering, mathmatics, etc.) and 2) people who earn advanced degrees.

These factors could also multiply to some factor upon one another, for example:

Person A: earns a BA in English receives 1.5x standard deduction

Person B: earns a BS in Chemical Engineering receives 2.0x standard deduction

Person C: earns a PhD in Communications receives 2.5x standard deduction

Person D: earns a PhD in Electrical Engineering receives 3.5x standard deduction.

...and so forth. Obviously the numbers are not exact but you get the idea. The idea is that a great way to get ourselves going as a nation would be to create incentive for excellence rather than just making it a moral buzz word.

Also, I would suggest that the increased rate of deduction be applied to the deduction received as one increases their dependents. Therefore, there is also incentive for these motivated individuals to produce more individuals who will (hopefully) seek to out-do their parents' achievement. I admit this last suggestion is highly debatable since 1) it poses the prospect of producing another potential 'baby boom' and would create a potential financial mess in the future, 2) it would contribute to further crowding the world with more high-energy consumers, and 3) some might argue it smacks of social engineering to some degree; however, if the need right now is to produce as many high-quality brains as possible to work on the toughest challenges of our time the good may outweigh the bad.

Joseph Lowinske (not verified)
August 8th 2009, 7:45 pm

Hearts and minds is a concept revolving around Iraq and Afghanistan that we keep repeating ad nauseum but who really
knows what that means? Does it mean bringing democracy to a region that
hasn't had it? Just because democracy kind of works for us (unless you work for Fox News, in which case you think we're a socialist country) that doesn't mean it will work for everyone. We condem their
treatment of women as barbaric and refuse to just let them be. The terrorists
don't hate us because of our freedom or because we allow our women to wear
shorts, they hate us because we try to bring that concept to their part of the
world and it conflicts with their religion and lifestyle. We don't feel the
need to respect their culture or their values because we view it as
"backwards" and "old world". We think that out way is best and in the words
of our ex prez, "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists." What
an American way of thinking: no middle gray area...if you don't
stand with us then we'll trash your pacifist ideology and change the name of
your food to freedom fries.

I would say that our energy consumption is worse than any terrorist strike for
a few reasons:

1.) We're doing it to ourselves. We blame terrorist actions for so many
things and condem how horrible they are, but what about the things we are
doing and have been doing to not only our environment but to generations of
human beings? If anything, we are eco-terrorists of the worst kind.

2.) Structures can be repaired. If a terrorist blows up a building, we can
fix it or build a new one in its place. But natural resources cannot be
recreated and once they are gone, they are gone. And nobody can use the
"human lives cannot be brought back" argument on this because damage to our
environment has killed people too and will continue to do so. So either way,
human beings suffer, its just a question of whether or not that suffering will
be irreversible or not.

In Hot, Flat and Crowded, Friedman said that a green strategy is not simply
about generating electric power, it is a new way of generating national power.
But we're already behind. Friedman says that we should take the lead in a
worldwide effort to replace wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a
strategy for clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation. This means
that the big economic opportunities should have shifted from IT (Information
Technology) in recent decades to ET (renewable Environmental Technologies) but
we all know that they have not. It was asked of us 30 years ago to reduce our
dependance on foreign oil and every president since then has paid lip service
to this same request and none of them have put forth serious capital into
making it happen. Something always comes up that is deemed more important and
the initiatve stalls. But that's always going to be the way because the
nation will never look at the environment as a "clear and present danger".
Admittedly, it is more of a "widespread and eventual danger" but that doesn't
make it any less potent. Its part of the instant gratification culture we
have in American. If something doesn't work right away, then it must be a
failed policy. You can turn on Fox News and see an example of that concept. I can't count how many pundits have called Obama's first few months in office a failure or condemned the stimulus package as a waste of money because "it didn't work". Even though Obama himself said that these things would take time -
possibly years to show positive effects - some people still demand instant
results and stick their fingers in their ears if you tell them to be patient.
Like you would just pump $700 billion into the economy one day and the next
day millions of job postings would show up on That's why we like
war; its instant gratification. You drop a bomb on a town and it goes boom
right away. And people like it even more if you tell them that a few Taliban
fighters lived in that town or a high ranking Al Queda member was said to be
there. Those simple statements justify the "total war" way of life.

Josh Gibbs (not verified)
July 22nd 2009, 3:24 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I have just finished The World Is Flat and am enjoying its hangover and, despite intense search, I could not get your email address to convey views. So I had no option but to send my views on The World Is Flat in this space. I hope you wont mind - after all world is not that flat that i could find your email address. make it little flatter for me. The World is Flat is really one of the most piercing and visionary piece of work on the subject that I have ever come across. This book is simply fascinating and outstanding. Indubitably, you have treated the subject with such incisive style that no one else has been able to do in recent times. However, though you briefly broached the subject of CNN and CNBC in the context of the USA, I still feel that you have missed one of the FLATTENERS while discussing the subject. This eleventh flattener may be mixed up with the ninth & tenth flatteners. This eleventh flattener is the advent of cable TV and satellite TV channels. I live in Pakistan (next to India) and I have witnessed the tremendous effects these cable TV channels (or satellites channels) have on flattening this part of the world. And I am sure the similar kind of flattening effects of cable TV are being experienced in almost all parts of the world - particularly in the developing countries. You can't imagine the huge impact this cable TV phenomenon has made on transforming and converging the cultures in general. Before the advent of cable TV, the viewership of mostly state-owned TV channels was limited to very few households in the developing countries as well as Indian, China and the former Soviet states. Only 5-7 % of the population in these countries had exposure to state-owned TV channels that were beaming the pro-government, socialist, communist or religious views of the ruling elite. The TV channels at that time (and still today the state-owned channels) were working as the propagandist of the ruling class of the country (it could be military, bureaucracy or feudals depending upon the country's political power structure). These TV channels, with their narrow and limited vision, kept their equally "limited audience" in a close world where they were only exposed to the "good deeds" of the ruling elite and "sweet dreams" of the future. These state-owned TV channels were nothing more than big propaganda organ of their respective governments with no conscious efforts on the cultural or mental development of the people. However, with the arrival of the cable TV, the societies in these developing countries found a new kind of exposure to the outer world that was unimaginable just a few years ago. The cable TV phenomenon has affected the global culture in four different ways. One, it has enabled the viewers to have a direct exposure to different cultures that was not possible in the old era of state-owned TV channels. Two, unlike the small size of the state-owned TV channel audience, the cable TV has a very deep penetration even to remote areas of under-developed countries and even the non-affording classes of these countries are having access to it because of extremely low monthly charges to maintain a cable TV connection . Now almost over 80% households in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos and Sri Lanka etc has access to cable TV with numerous local, regional and western channel options. Three, the specialization of channels (ESPN, CNN, BBC, National Geographic & HBO etc) in both English and local languages has further given the opportunity to these people to be more open, modern and democratic in their approach. The growing voices for democracy in the developing countries have a lot to do with the cable TV.
This part of the world that has a major flattener in the form of cable TV that has enable to change the global culture. Now Western trousers among Pakistani girls are no more a taboo. Just five years ago you could not imagine that Pakistani women would be using jeans and T-shirts so freely. This is a direct influence of cable TV that even the strict religious society of country like Pakistan has increasingly adopted the Western dresses among the female folk. The effect is not limited to dresses only. Now the pizzas and burgers have enormously replaced the local food item in these developing countries which were very rigid for the past few decades in accepting the western food and culture.

Mr. Friedman, I just wanted to bring this aspect into your notice and this topic (if you agree with me) can be expanded further as the eleventh flattener or a part of ninth or tenth flattener. I am sure you will give your input on this aspect as well.

Imran Khalid (not verified)
July 22nd 2009, 5:01 am

I just finished your h,f & c book and read the acknowledgments. I decided you know too many people!An old joke is about a judge ready to start a trial. He says, the plaintiff gave me $10,000 to decide in his favor, the defendant gave me $15,000 to decide the case his way. Now, I want to be perfectly fair to both sides - I am returning $5,000 to the defendant.
Comment: legislators should be required to recuse themselves when voting on legislation where they received campaign contributions, much like a judge.

sol lefkowitz (not verified)
July 20th 2009, 12:14 pm

July 6th, 2009

Mr. Friedman,
I’m a (retired) proud to be Union Millwright based out of the 1121 Local in Boston. My 22+ years in the field had me going to power plant shutdowns in a variety of facilities; oil, gas, coal, trash burning, hydro, and nuclear. Ten of my last 12 years before my disability retirement were at VY, aka Vermont Yankee, in Vernon, Vt. My duties were as mundane as valve oil changes and filter replacement to the technically detailed disassembly/reassembly of the turbine and the procedure intensive disassembly/reassembly of the reactor. I got to work along side a wide variety of engineers involved in a wide array of activities relating to nuclear power; folks from big Corporations like GE and Framatome to small Co. that specialize in underwater robotics to do radiologically dangerous work. It made me proud that I was involved in work that supplied our society with their ever increasing demand for electricity, today something akin to the air we breathe. My first job there gave me great angst, as everywhere I walked within the plant there were yellow/magenta signs warning of radiological conditions. I constantly did self checks on my dosimetry. Eventually, my angst was converted to an understanding of the situation and an appreciation for the professionalism of everyone involved. At the end of those ten years I was a proud member of that team. But Sept. 11th occurred and with it a large infusion of security enhancements. That event made me concerned again for the obvious reasons. Though professional in every way, the production of electricity at VY created a waste that is deadly for 10’s of thousands of years. I was laid off in early 2003, a year or so after Entergy of La. bought them from the previous group of owners.
Flash forward to the spring of 2008. My wife and I were emerging from a winter season that was fairly typical; quite a lot of snow, a few winter rain storms, and 3 or 4 below zero mornings. (Just a decade earlier though, that below zero figure would have been 10-15 mornings.) We burned about 1200 gals. of propane at $2.75. Our fuel company sent us a pre-buy memo in May saying the upcoming seasonal price would be $3.75. That is when we decided to take the green plunge and decided on geothermal. I hired Atlantic Geothermal out of Florence, Ma. and the project began. In the end, it cost us $25,000 less a $2,000 credit for a 3 Ton heating (and cooling) system. We figure we cut our heating cost in half compared to what we would have spent burning propane. We are so happy that I’ve removed the old furnace and its hot water base boards. I was so enthusiastic for this system that I got Atlantic 2 more jobs in my area. David Reynolds, the President of Atlantic, enjoyed my zeal for his work and told me of his concept for a geothermal power plant. Because of that exciting prospect, I now work for Atlantic Geothermal LLC.
On Wednesday, June 24th in your own NY Times there was a front page story about a Swiss geothermal project in 2006 that was shut down after it was determined it had triggered an earthquake. The article segued to a geothermal project soon to start in Northern Ca. involving AltaRock Energy Inc. In the article, AltaRock says they have learned from the Swiss project, but one glaring fact remains; both projects are open loop systems. Open loop geothermal power production requires supply wells that feed steam generated from the hot rocks deep below, and return wells that inject “cold” water back into the ground for it to get back to the hot rocks below. These return wells depend on natural and hydro fractured fissures (both unknowns) in the earth to get that water to its destination. Open Loop systems operate at an optimal depletion rate, which over its expected 20-30 year life, depletes the energy asset below quicker than the heat can recover, economically forcing it to decommission.
Atlantic Geothermal LLC has a different idea. We call our system is a Closed Loop Energy Mine (CLEM). It requires drilling a 16’ diameter hole to a depth of 30,000’. Then a 5,000’ tunnel is bored the same diameter. At 50’ intervals along both sides of this tunnel a series of 6” holes are bored to a length of 1,500’, and they are connected at their ends employing directional drilling. This manufactured underground infrastructure resembles a tree leaf lying on a table with its stem turned upwards. The projected temperature at that depth is between 300- 350 degrees F and there are 1,000 atmospheres of pressure at that depth, preventing the water that fills the system from boiling. That water is pumped to the surface where the decreasing pressure allows it to convert to steam and turn a series of low pressure turbines. It later condenses back to water and is pumped back below. This well defined, manufactured underground infrastructure allows for an optimal recharge rate, giving the plant owner an asset that can produce reliable, baseline electricity for centuries instead of 2 or 3 decades. Yes, our up front cost will be significantly more, but that cost can be paid for easily by the extended life of the plant that will generate very long term profits.
Our prototype is for a 160 MW plant to be built on a 10 acre plot sitting atop of the underground infrastructure. The estimated cost would be $800M. This prototype could be expanded to produce 1400MW at a cost of $5.4B. This is about 1/3 the cost of a new nuclear plant that Republicans are pushing as one of their solutions to our energy needs, and ours produces zero pollution of any kind!
Mr. Friedman, you often stress education and innovation in your op/ed pieces and I could not agree more. Our project will be transformational in method; it will require developing new methods for underwater mechanical work, akin to the ongoing Mars mission using robots. Deep earth boring and tunneling technology will advance because of the needs of this project. Innovative processes and patents will likely emerge. Engineering students would leap at the opportunity to join in this endeavor. We could call them “The Gen Transformers”. As you said in your piece on July 1st, young Americans must take hold of their own future, their destiny, if America is to succeed at this very important challenge. We at Atlantic Geothermal believe it can happen and want to be a part of the exciting reinvention of America with what you call the ET revolution, a commitment to step forward and be a part of the restart of the American dream.
Should this letter pique your interest, Sir, we have a detailed concept paper that we could send to you. We’ve applied for grant money from the Energy Dept. ARPA-E program. Would it be possible for your “Science Times” editor to review our concept paper for possible publication?
Thank-you, Mr. Friedman, and please feel free to contact me or David Reynolds at your convenience.
Kevin P. Downey David Reynolds
kevin.downey1@yahoo .com
802-464-7202 413-587-0021

Kevin Downey (not verified)
July 6th 2009, 7:44 pm

I have found many parenting blogs that talk about "Going Green". It is something that should start at home. Try to re-use things and not always throw them out. If you must throw something out try to recycle it so that it does not end up in a landfill.

Fishman (not verified)
June 22nd 2009, 4:33 pm

the existence of(Brera-BrambrillaCary-Yale-Tarocchi)

Lokki (not verified)
June 19th 2009, 12:26 am