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.


The book alludes to a higher order of thinking required to address the challenges before us ("You cannot solve a problem from the same level of thinking that created it"). Mr. Friedman and others call repeatedly for better leadership, and for "a strategy to move the general public".

But where will higher order thinking come from? How do we move the general public? And how do we get better leaders? What are these ideals without techniques for achieving them?

In the same way that a fish cannot see the water that supports its life, we humans tend to overlook the prime mover that addresses all of these dimensions simultaneously--our own consciousness. The same physicists who give us solar cell technology have long acknowledged the role of consciousness in giving rise to all of the phenomena in our material world. We are just not yet in the habit of focusing on our consciousness directly as a means of improving that world.

But today we are awash in evidence of the efficacy of such an approach. Research-validated meditation techniques have demonstrated their ability to make qualitative improvements in all three areas, at arbitrary scales.

Brain research and scanning data show that meditation that successfully induces a so-called "Fourth State of Consciousness" (qualitatively distinct from waking, sleeping, and dreaming states) causes the brain to function automatically in a more holistic manner. All areas of the brain function simultaneously, and they function in concert, so the contribution of each area is amplified by all of the others. At the same time, the entire nervous system receives more rest than it does from sleep, which we knows supports the creative process (NYT 9/28/08: "sleep improves creative ability to generate aha! moments and to uncover novel connections").

This is decidedly not the same level of thinking we grew up with. This is Thinking from Heaven--thinking that truly does release the potential of the human mind. One round of training in technique and four years later you have a college graduating class that hits the job market with not just knowledge but better knowing--better comprehending of precisely the dynamics the book illuminates. Here indeed is a "strategy for moving the general public".

Better thinkers bring better leaders ("...leaders are mainly a reflection of the collective consciousness they are leading. In other words, it is the organization which governs the leader, and not vice versa." --Harold Harung, "Invincible Leadership"). So it is by improving the thinking of the general public that we get the "better leadership" called for in the book.

We balk at the subject of meditation, as if one were advocating satanic rituals. But this is no different than President Eisenhower's Council on Youth Fitness calling for "fifteen minutes a day of vigorous exercise" after research showed the benefits (and our lagging of the Europeans). This is simply a technique for exercising our consciousness, with benefits borne out by research.

I believe that to leave this option on the table simply because we are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the concept is to overlook possibly the most fundamental and powerful force at our disposal for aligning our thinking and ourselves with nature. And it is precisely, as Jonathan F. P. Rose points out in the book, "our ability to see and act in tune with nature's systemic ways" and "to see and think holistically" that will allow us to transform our condition and thrive.

David Baldwin
Pawtucket RI

David Baldwin (not verified)
September 30th 2008, 6:21 am

how easy it has been for us to all see that big bussiness and greed, run the empire not the elected leaders. as someone
sais , " if the birds stop flying, it could be to late form mankind"

kgy (not verified)
September 29th 2008, 4:10 pm

While reading the book, I was curious about Tom's statement concerning "19th century farming." We farm, and for the first time in our career (we are 55) are seeing real profits. I assume his comments were due to the stupidity of ethanol. We agree with that, but would like to hear him expound on what he meant about 19th century farming. If you think the economy is trouble because of poor financial decisions, what do you think will happen if we outsourse our farming? A hungry nation is a scary one. Tom, please expound on your farming ideas. Thanks,

Jill Smit (not verified)
September 29th 2008, 9:09 am

I'd like to see two ideas discussed in Chapter 18:
First, the most exciting vision for a green economy is that articulated by Michael Bruangart and William McDonough, in their book and conuslting business Cradle to Cradle. Chapter 18 must reflect the radicalness of their idea that every action - be it commercial, lifestyle, educational or governmental - ought to have a net positive effect on the environment. This new industrial revolution coudl be led by America. Already the Nehterlands is embracing the idea ad formal public policy. Why not America - or perhaps starting with a state such as California?
Second, as a non American, I read the book with a cringe. Must you be so obessed with your own nation and your own success? There are other people who care about the future, and others for whom innoavtion is lifeblood. In New Zealand, we survive only by our wits (and plenty of warm rain). I'd like to see Chapter 18 open the discussion to the role of gloabl collabration in solving this problem. Green is a universal colour.

to me the book reads as a last gasp attempt to revive a passing hegemony, simialr to the posturing of the Britain

Vincent Heeringa (not verified)
September 29th 2008, 5:16 am

Mr. Friedman,

I have not yet finished your latest book, but it has already changed my thinking radically. I believe both candidates need desperately to read your book immediately, please send them signed copies ASAP.

The biggest connection that I made from your book was that government support is the key to success in all areas of a green revolution. Both major political parties have repeatedly failed to see this need and make the right choices. With this in mind I think your 18th chapter should include a call for a legitimate Green Party to lead the revolution that we despreately need.

You discussed in your book how green is in everything now. Green economics, green business, green war, green research, green fashion (arrgh!), etc. amount to green politics. Also your discussion about the enthusiasm of the innovators and youth of the country for green research seems to imply a latent demand for green political leaders who can take the country in the direction that it MUST go if it is to survive. Green politics has the stereotype in the US of bearded tree hugging crazys. That does not seem to be the same in the rest of the world. Without a legitimate third party, and without it being a green party, the help America needs from our government to return our independence, our security and our position as a world leader, will not arrive in time. I have no faith that the two parties currently in power can overcome their differences, leave their comfort zones, and do what must be done.

Thank you again for your book. It has opened my eyes and my mind.

Thaddaeus Moody

Thaddaeus Moody (not verified)
September 28th 2008, 10:54 pm

I have not yet finished your book, but so far, I am enjoying it, and more to the point, I generally agree. However,I have two comments:
1. on page 189, you imply that solar-thermal requires no batteries, but it does require storage;
2. on page 194 (and others), a KW is not a unit of energy, it is a unit of power. A KWH is a unit of energy. I notice that many, many people confuse the two.

Don Watson

Don Watson (not verified)
September 24th 2008, 3:50 pm

Here are the missing links:

1. Part 2 of the ITConversations interview:

2. Move to a paradigm that creates "Spectrum Abundance" and abandon current notion of "spectrum scarcity".

See posts on Open Spectrum on Greater Democracy:

Jock Gill (not verified)
September 24th 2008, 3:37 pm

For a more global view of the changes we need to deal with a hot, flat and crowded world:

1. Part 2 of the ITConversations interview

2. Move to a paradigm that creates "Spectrum Abundance" and abandon current notion of "spectrum scarcity".

See posts on Open Spectrum on Greater Democracy:

3. Require end-to-end systems analysis of energy use. Reject systems that deliver less than 80% of the energy in the native state of its energy source. That is, disallow or penalize, systems that waste more than 20% of the energy used to power them. Raise the bar regularly. This will require us to abandon centralized power plants and adopt an Electranet energized by distributed generation at the points of demand [CHP and Micro-CHP].

4. Set a goal to keep sequestered carbon sequestered by 2028. It is a mockery to explore for new sources of fossil energy so that we can burn them to accelerate climate degradation.

5. Require all new construction to meet tough new Zero Net Energy standards. There is no need to build houses that require furnaces or that require more than 1 ton of biomass to heat them for a year. We can do this for $120 per sq foot construction costs with today's craftspeople, materials, and tools. In fact, such houses are already being built in MA.

In the end, we are working with too big a bucket, with too many leaks, and we are putting the wrong stuff into the bucket.

That's about what I can contribute. I do have a slide deck I would be glad to share if you are interested.

Jock Gill

Jock Gill (not verified)
September 24th 2008, 3:00 pm

Capitalism and Environmentalism:
Each Incomplete without the Other

How do the environmental principles like reducing, reusing, and recycling goods relate to the capitalist drive to buy, sell, and move such goods? Intuitively, many people see a dichotomy between environmentalism and capitalism. Actually, though, not only do these two ideologies abide by the same objectives, but they also aim at the same ultimate goal. Both environmental stewards and capital adventurists seek to manage available resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. More than this, though, is the fact that both systems endeavor to promote the material prosperity, and indeed, the continued existence, of people on this planet; we can’t eat if we can’t breathe, and vice versa.

The problem is with time horizons. Capitalists seek returns on investment by the next quarter, while environmentalists look to solve the planet's problems one hundred years in the future. Tom Friedman is right in that it will require government leadership in shaping the market to bring these time horizons more in line with one other.

Do demonstrate this, what could be helpful in Chapter 18 is a comparative thought experiment on the projected economic performance of the existing hydrocarbon capital regime (with all its losses in worker productivity and health care costs due to pollution, along with rising inflation due to long term price increases, etc.) and a green capital regime (with its mitigation of these problems, plus the benefits of energy/capital diversification and green tech commercialization globally) over the next decade. My theory is that, while the GDP of the green capital regime may be slower in the first two or three years (which is why government is needed to ease the pain of initial investment), within ten years such a regime will not only show better GDP growth than the hydrocarbon capital regime, this growth will also be almost infinitely sustainable in a hot, flat, and crowded world.

Capitalists need to understand that with a little more short term pain that usual, there can be virtually unlimited gain in the longer term, and environmentalists should apprise themselves of the fact that, while saving the planet and each of its inhabitants is the noblest cause there is, we still need to sustain ourselves in the short term.

Stephen Bobroff (not verified)
September 24th 2008, 2:04 pm

A key ingredient to solving the climate crisis is changing our perspective and attitude towards the problem. We need to move away from the doom and gloom of the environmental movement as it breeds nothing but guilt, shame and impotence towards the overwhelming issues of climate change (which include overpopulation, greenhouse gas emissions, water shortage, limited resources, municipal and industrial waste, melting ice, etc.). Our attitude should be that the problems and issues that face climate change are problems that only America can fix. Americans will fix this problem and we're going to do it well and in style. And once we've fixed it, we're going to sell our new found technologies and innovations to all the other countries in the world. Then and only then will we see our economy grow, our leadership in the world reinstalled and most importantly, our planet cleaner.

This fundamental change in attitude is what it will take for us to own this problem and do something about it. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Michael Pascal (not verified)
September 23rd 2008, 5:17 pm

Mr. Friedman,
You did an excellent job of explaining our Energy, biodiversity, and environmental crises in the world and America. However, I don’t think we can convince America or Washington to go green or fight Global Warming. But, I think we could convince America to become energy and oil independent and stop sending $5 Billion to the Middle East for oil each year and help win the War on Terrorism. An energy and oil independent America will require a New Energy Policy that will produce good jobs in America and reduce Global Warming and go green as a byproducts, but do not focus the initiative on going green and Global Warming.
This New Energy Policy issue is to important for only one lobbying approach to America or Washington, I would make Chapter 17 an Appendix as the byproduct of this New Energy Policy, and replace Chapter 17 with the story of the leadership and focus needed to build the momentum for a New Energy Policy in America now. Version 2 or the 2nd. Edition could be titled: “ Hot, Flat, and Crowded and needing American Leadership and Energy Independence ”.

Anonymous (not verified)
September 23rd 2008, 1:50 pm

Some interesting ideas are being explored on the Discovery mini-series "Project Earth." It is worth a look:

Rick M (not verified)
September 23rd 2008, 11:27 am

I'm from Brazil, the land of the sugarcane ethanol, and I think that we really have to be worried because the answers we have now are insufficient due to the size of the global warming problem. We will only be safe with more effiency on extracting, generating and using energy from coal, oil or "green sources". We should put prizes for those who first develop engines that run twice or three times the distance they do now with the same ammount of fuel or companies that find how to extract petroleum with minimum environment damage.

Geovane Zanetti (not verified)
September 22nd 2008, 2:33 pm

Mr. Friedman,
You did an excellent job of explaining our Energy, biodiversity, and environmental crises in the world and America. However, I don’t think we can convince America or Washington to go green or fight Global Warming. But, I think we could convince America to become energy and oil independent and stop sending $5 Billion to the Middle East for oil each year and help win the War on Terrorism. An energy and oil independent America will require a New Energy Policy that will produce good jobs in America and reduce Global Warming and go green as a byproducts, but do not focus the initiative on going green and Global Warming.
This New Energy Policy issue is to important for only one lobbying approach to America or Washington, I would make Chapter 17 an Appendix as the byproduct of this New Energy Policy, and replace Chapter 17 the story of the leadership and focus needed to build the momentum for a New Energy Policy in America now. Version 2 or the 2nd. Edition could be titled: “ Hot, Flat, and Crowded and needing American Leadership and Energy Independence ”.
John, an American

John, an American (not verified)
September 22nd 2008, 12:37 pm


Mr. Friedman,

If there is one thing I could ask from your astounding access to the top thinkers of today, is how can we innovate a way to reach the policy makers.

In the day, it was common to see a politician on the Capitol steps with bags and bags of mail validating their position. In this IT age and the footprint of snail mail I'm not sure that is a good option, but maybe so.

I can't thank you enough for this book.

Tim from Carlsb... (not verified)
September 22nd 2008, 9:45 am

I have been listening to Hot, Flat and Crowded in my car commuting to work (irony noted). It is fascinating, but frightening!

One notable thing in the current discussion on these topics - the solutions focus too little on the "crowded" component.

No doubt that is because solutions in this area are so hard to come by.

One of the few countries making a serious effort in this regard is China. The progress of their "one child" policy has come at great social cost and has received much tut-tutting from comfortable Westerners.

India is struggling ineffectively. Neither the Pope nor Islam seem to have a clue where this all leads.

Yet, if all countries of the world do not adopt a plan to slow, then halt, then reverse population growth, all the green technology or other changes to our affluenza lifestyle will be offset and we will still be headed for a rendez-vous with the 4 horesemen of the apocalypse.

Mankind has had a neolithic revolution and an industrial revolution. It needs another revolution to break free of the biological and social imperatives which push us towards populating ourselves into extinction, or at best to a very nasty equilibrium such as we find with human life today in the Ganges delta in Bangla Desh. Frogs in very hot water.

We must start to imagine new and better ways to control population, at home and around the world and we should start now.

I can think of no better person than to help us grapple with this issue than yourself.

Jim Mathewson (not verified)
September 21st 2008, 2:54 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman,

At the same time you suggest "China for a Day" you must should direct your readers to ANOTHER GREAT BOOK -- "the Big Ripoff" by author and investigative journalist Tim

We could, instead, be "Sweden for a Day".
Less is more. Smaller is better

Washington Examiner (not verified)
September 19th 2008, 5:53 pm

Hi Tom,

For the last 20 years I have been involved in promoting a low cost and very effective green technology in the tropics and semi tropics that will help solve many of the problems relating to natural resources degradation and the negative impact of intensified tropical storms. The technology, using a plant called vetiver grass, is free to any sensible person who might want to use it. Here are two quotes:

From Debela Dinka, - Sustainable Land Use Forum, Ethiopia. "According to our partner NGO in Illubabor, Ethio-Wetlands and Natural Resource Association (EWNRA), vetiver technology is more or less being used in 17 districts of 22 in Illubabor. It is estimated that about 17,000 households are using vetiver. It is expected that the remaining 5 districts will be involved. The major impacts of vetiver are: decreased rate of soil erosion; increased crop (maize sorghum, vegetables) yield due to soil and water conservation; reduced siltation of wetlands & streams; groundwater recharge which subsequently improved flow of springs, streams & wetlands; survival rate of tree & coffee seedlings reached more than 80%. Other uses of vetiver: mulching in coffee plantations; thatching of houses, stores & shades (vetiver grass gives long time service); mattress making (it repels home fleas & other insects); homestead hedgerows for beautification; making rope; income generation (farmers sell vetiver clumps for planting materials); and the green leaves of vetiver are cut and spread in & around homes during holidays & social gatherings such as wedding ceremonies."

From Tran Tan Van - Vietnam. "Vietnam, like most countries, suffers natural disasters and environmental degradation. The threat from future rising sea levels puts Vietnam in the top five most endangered nations. Yearly 1000 people die during storms; as a result of toxic pollution of waterways, yearly average property damage is $300,000,000. The government understands the need to mitigate these effects but has resorted to using piecemeal, conventional engineering works. These are very expensive, technically complicated and are not durable. The Vetiver Network's introduction of VS into Vietnam 7 years ago was for Vietnam “a timely glass of fresh water to the thirsty desert traveller”. It has been tested, demonstrated and adopted by the government, the research community, the private sector and individuals. The speed of its adoption over large landscapes attests that it is indeed the solution to myriad problems. Vietnam represents one of the world’s most successful cases of VS use".

You can learn more about this remarkable technology at If we are going to deal effectively with current "hot, flat and crowded" issues then vetiver grass has to be part of the solution. I think once you read about it you will want to learn more and, I hope, write about it.


Dick Grimshaw

Dick Grimshaw (not verified)
September 19th 2008, 5:13 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman,

The incoming ideas for Chapter 18 are inspiring, uplifting, enlightening, and will end up being a book in itself.

We continue to avidly follow your book and media tours. Thank you.

We would like to add yet another suggestion of disclaimer for your Chap. 18: We understand the broad scope and broad promise of your premise. It COULD, you do know, be interpreted in either or two ways -- democracy at its best, capitalism with the requisite checks and balances (meaning risk, success, or failure), intelligent, insightful, ethical leaders with foresight (as opposed to our usual reactive and do-nothing congresses; OR it could mean your "China-for-a-Day", which DOES seem to work (for them, for now)! But please be honest about it--do not be naive or conniving. Our Chinese colleagues laugh that you call it "Chinese Democracy". it is 'autocratic capitalism'. It eliminates a 3- 4 branch Fed. government and state and local govt.; there are no checks and balances between judicial, legislative, and administrative; it controls the internet, newspapers, TV, all media, schools, business, finance, religion, etc. Of course it works! You simply need to tell or ask your readers what we need, which what we support, and which way we want to go--honestly. Perhaps we will ALL arrive at the conclusion that what we have is a failed experiment in liberty and freedom of speech and religion, and capitalism; and that we now need to abandon democracy and replace it with autocracy or oligarchy or monarchy of wise control. (Note: the terms socialization, collective, public allies, voluntary public service, even communism are sometimes used instead -- either to frighten or entice--buty they are always essentially autocracies -- control of the inferior massses by a small designated elite)

No such thing a... (not verified)
September 18th 2008, 3:24 pm

I believed that the only way we can survuve this energy crises is to re-invent ourselves by investing in a new clean energy that can stand the test of time.

As long as we care about our enviroment, the responsibility is on us to make it safer and cleaner.

We need to provide the next generation a better place to live in. Failure to do this will result in us being ungrateful to Mother nature.

Jimmy Toriola (not verified)
September 18th 2008, 4:01 am

Continuing my case ( from my earlier comments) for a completely new socio-economic order at a global level, as the only permanent and long term solution, the latest events in the financial market only serve as another example of that.

We are in an election year and each party is blaming the other for the current economic crisis, even when the economists stress that politicians don't shape the economy one way or another.

It is simply wrong for the politicians and the administration to take credit for a good economy, just as they should not be blamed for a bad one. However, both the parties have made it a bad habit to interfere with the economic process for their own political gain. There is only a very thin line that separates the government from the market and so you really never know who helped and who did not. The marketplace is not ready for a completely free ride either. When times are good, it is driven by greed and over confidence and when times are tough it is driven by fear and insecurity. What is strangely missing is common sense and good rationale.

The Bush administration practiced Laissez Faire when the housing bubble was growing. It continued that policy when people started losing their homes. But then when the banks which broke the rules started to fall, the administration takes a complete 180 degree turn and bails out many of the big culprits. So my question is: was the government wrong when it did nothing to regulate the housing bubble or was it right in bailing out AIG?

The problem is, as long as we have this lose definition of a system, we will always be going through these cycles, only the players change. The best solution is to come up with a completely new system, not for any one country, but for the global marketplace. A system that leverages the latest technology breakthroughs and adapts to the cultural trends. Anything short of that will only postpone the next energy or environmental crisis

Vish Goda

Vish Goda (not verified)
September 17th 2008, 8:25 pm

I just left your lecture in Ypsilanti, Michigan, very inspired and made a personal vow to play bigger in solving the critical problems we need to solve around energy. My work is about developing leaders and it was abundantly clear listening to you, that leadership and innovation are key to solving our energy challenges and creating a planet that will provide for the needs of our children.

In October, my executive coaching firm will be assembling a team of 10 mid-level leaders from different utility and alternative energy companies to support the development of their leadership capability. They will work together to solve a complex problem providing them with a real-life experience to practice and develop their acumen as innovative, collaborative, and competitive leaders. Our goal is to help create energy leaders equipped to lead the ET Revolution you so astutely described today. The group will be cross-functional and will have 5 days over 6 months to work together on this project.

If you had 10 bright and capable energy leaders (all women I should also add) at your disposal, what problem would you ask them to solve to move the ET Revolution forward?

We will encourage them to share their results with all of you in 6 months and perhaps solve a problem worthy of being in Chapter 18!

All suggestions are welcome and appreciated. Please respond to:

Diane Ring, PARAGON Leadership International
Wixom, MI

Diane Ring (not verified)
September 17th 2008, 7:51 pm

The next step in bringing the green is the new red white and blue argument to the forefront is for Mr. Friedman to become a high profile surrogate for the Obama campaign.

For Chapter 18, I think the emphasis should be on training people at all levels of society how to talk about this stuff. Like Al Gore who trained people to give his Inconvenient Truth power point, Friedman should build up an army of people giving his lecture.

An Instructional Designer team from the Educational Technology departments of Harvard and MIT should put all the info from Hot Flat and Crowded into an interactive training program.

I would be happy to help find grant money ASAP to accomplish this.

Claire Leggett (not verified)
September 17th 2008, 9:43 am

Pick almost any challenge facing us today, from balance of payments to wars in the middle east to economic malaise to global warming. All, at core, result substantially from our energy policy, which is too often framed as a seesaw between economically-irresponsible environmentalism and environmentally-irresponsible growth. The choice is false - but the win/win solutions are consistently either ignored, on the theory that "if it's such a good idea, someone would have done it already" or else wedged into the back of bills that are stuck on the seesaw.

Consider that any energy or environmental policy to date falls into one of three categories:

1. Hair shirts. Use less energy to tolerate a lower standard of living.
2. Fuel switching. Embrace coal. No, make that nuclear. No, make that gas. No, wind. No, coal. (Repeat)
3. Increase total efficiency, measured as fossil fuel use per dollar of GDP.

All have their place, but only the third wins on every metric. More economic growth. Lower CO2 emissions. Less dependence on unstable regions. More jobs. And yet it's the tail end of every policy, buried in a subsection on appliance standards or some such after thought, that at best captures a tiny fraction of a much larger opportunity to reduce the total fossil input of our entire economy. So why don't we? Not for any technological or economic reason (I have personal experience deploying hundreds of 100-year old technologies in industrials with >30% returns on invested capital). Rather, efficiency has no natural political constituency. That's the bad news. The good news though is that there is a massive opportunity for profitable, job-creating GHG reduction, limited only by our ambition.

So the policy idea is simply to get off the seesaw. Embrace greenhouse gas reductions that make money. Overhaul our electric regulatory model so that electric utilities (source of 42% of our greenhouse gas emissions) have an economic incentive to deploy cheap, low-carbon generation. (And while you're at it, get rid of the barriers to private sector participation in that market). Overhaul the Clean Air Act not to raise pollution, but to remove its unintended penalties on those who would pursue efficiency as a pollution control strategy. Taken collectively, these would unleash hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the economy, taking advantage of our national propensity to innovate and invest. But for goodness sake, get off the seesaw.

Sean Casten (not verified)
September 16th 2008, 5:52 pm

Our energy system is grossly inefficient, and the reason is simple: bad regulations. We should be like Denmark and reward efficient, local power technologies such as cogeneration and waste heat recovery. Instead, we give monopoly protections to inefficient utilities, making it exceedingly difficult for more efficient options to emerge. If we subject utilities to fair competition, greenhouse pollution and energy costs would simultaneously plummet.

Consider three facts:

1) About 69% of our nation's greenhouse pollution comes from the production of power and heat.

2) A typical U.S. power plant is only 33% efficient, meaning it throws away two-thirds of its fuel. This pathetic figure hasn't improved since the 1950s.

3) Technology is available right now to make power plants that are 70-90% efficient. Such plants -- which "recycle" their own waste heat into clean power and steam -- provide over half of Denmark's energy.

Together, these facts mean we can strike at the heart of global warming only if we generate power more efficiently. Better gas mileage is nice, and so is insultation in buildings. But as visionaries like Tom Casten and others have argued, our energy system is the core of the problem. And until we reform the rules that reward inefficient utilities, little will change.

Miggs (not verified)
September 16th 2008, 2:12 pm

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I was an entrepreneur in the last ET revolution that lasted from about 1978 until 1986. I witnessed the formation of a vital new industry that changed the way electric utilities did business. I was there with Ralph Cavanaugh when we stopped the WPPSS nuclear plants. And I saw how energy supply siders subverted the efforts of alternative energy pioneers through regulation and control of the political process which crippled the nascent alternative energy sector.

This time we've got to do things differently. Don't expect energy supply siders (oil/gas/electric companies) to propose innovative solutions that undermine their core business of selling more energy!

Innovation occurs on the demand side by all of us and our billions of choices so let's get organized. I'm not talking big government, I'm talking about energy consumers cooperatives. OK red staters, put your guns back in your holsters! Cooperatives are as American as apple pie and voluntary.

The idea is simple. Us energy consumers are in charge of our energy future and we aren't giving up control to anyone. Given the right advice and financing through a revolving loan fund (funded by previous energy savings) we can start making the innovative energy choices NOW! This can include building improvements, transportation alternatives, independent power production and a lot of other ideas. Its consumer reports meets venture capital at our kitchen table.

Our goal is energy independence with the least carbon footprint plus a seat at the head of the table in formulating energy policy.

Radical times call for radical measures. Who is ready to join me?

Jeffrey Sterling (not verified)
September 16th 2008, 3:01 am

Propose a big prize for the scientist/company who invent a valve or something that could avoid, or store or even destroy the gases release by the cattle before it goes freely into the atmosphere. According to a English person who spoke a few days ago in United Nations, theses gases are responsable for 18% of the green house effect nowdays. Considering that the gases from vehicles contribute with 13%, these issue gets very scary, once not many people know or change eating habibts and considering that by 2012 we'll have another one billion people among us.

Andre Soalheiro (not verified)
September 16th 2008, 1:39 am

Thousands of miles away from USA, I'm here in Qatar. In the middle of the "oil paradise" for a few 'blind, death and grandchildren eagerless people' (well that's the only kind of people I can imagine supporting the oil industry nowadays) while for the rest of the normal sense people I'm actually in the "oil hell making place".

I get really delighted to read these comments about the "green energy and E.T." - subject that 'clicked me' (and became my favorite) only in the last month. It's so good, and I do fell more safe and hopeful (actually re-start thinking that's it is still possible for me to have kids and raise them in a livable planet) when I read so many possible solutions and new ideas that this extraordinary race - mankind - is capable of discovering for this issue. Congratulation to everyone who is here helping somehow to keep the life in this planet a good experience.

I do think that I have a 'funny' position right now once I'm living among the guys who really want to keep the oil industry going and, at the same time, having such a contrary idea of its use. But there's more, I'm also Brazillian. And this bring out a subject related to oil problems and the nesscesity of having all the governments in the world, not just the America's candidates, with the "innovate, baby, innovate" idea. Well, for me this is more a surviving of the human race issue than a leading country one.

I mentioned the 'there's more, I'm brazillian' because having my homeland as a neighbor of VENEZUELA, makes us listen and read too much about it, probably more than Americans citizens do. Look what the oil price - due to its consumption, mainly from America, has done to the country. Besides the carbon ox. in the air that the Venezuelan oil itself will became soon and therefore it's population will suffer from the climates change too, the oil also changes to the social life of the people. Confirming what Mr. Thomas Friedman said in his last speech in Aspen, the side effect of a 80, 90 dollars a barrel of oil has made HUGO CHAVEZ the latest big dictator on planet EARTH! Shutting down TV channels that were against his policies just shows how much democracy is disappearing over there. And don't be surprise if his madness drives him into something as stupid as looking for a war with the same America who is responsible for its enrich (putting oil prices so high), once he's a big CUBA supporter and not as much fan of the Democracy Model America's international policies.

My idea for the "green revolution" first step is related to the consumers.The people who actually change the world are the consumers. Captalism works with offer and demand. If the people (consumers), leaded by a real pure interested in making this green revolution going leader, are encourage to buy and demand only "green products", industry will do, whatever it takes to stock these products on the shelves. Starting with investing in all the ideas that many people already wrote here, in the Chapter 18 suggestions.

I'm not a scientist,nor a teacher nor someone with PHD. In fact, I'm just a 26 years old guy, who now is understanding the "real inconvenient truth" and who's struggling to finish a business graduation course with the sure that the companies that will receive my C.V. are only the ones who take seriously the "green revolution", not just because I believe in it's profitable future, and not because i really want to do something to help the world to be a better place but mainly because I really, really want to, one day, be able to take my grand kids the football stadium that my father has always taken me. Without the these changes, I'm afraid it won't be possible. Maybe the air and climate won't permit us to go outdoors.

Andre Soalheiro (not verified)
September 16th 2008, 1:20 am

In your interviews you've mentioned a key notion that needs to be expanded upon, which are incentives/dis-incentives, both on the invent/sell side and the buy side.

The many barriers to bring various types of new energy to market need to be identified, and the enablers for the relatively simple ones put in place quickly (2 examples in other posts are patent costs, and the inability to get insurance for installed solar panels). Additionally, as you've stated, enticements that motivate energy consumers to change must be readily available.

R Stein (not verified)
September 15th 2008, 10:30 pm

Large scale building off nuclear power cannot proceed without thinking about where you will get enough nuclear engineers to build and run these plants.

Many nuclear engineers that operator existing power plants grew up in the US Navy, which used to have nearly 100 nuclear vessels. Now that the Cold War is over, the Navy has far fewer of these ships and submarines. Hence, there are far fewer ex-Navy nuclear engineers and technicians.

If Nuclear is to figure into our future, perhaps we should expand the Navy away from using fossil fuels and into an All Nuclear fleet. This would ensure a steady stream of trained Nuclear engineers.

Also, move the Air Force to using only coal derived fuels, and the Army to electric vehicles (hybrid) and use alternate sources of power wind and solar to power the Army where feasible. This would create young people with exposure to these alternate energy sources.

The military is one of our best sources for training technicians. It has a history of developing people who stay in industries (aviation, power systems etc) and can be ramped up fast to provide the human force for the future.

Look at how fast the defensed build up went in the 80's when Reagan committed to 600 ships in the Navy. We need that kind of effort now.

Jim Pluth (not verified)
September 15th 2008, 4:22 pm