Remember the Geo-Greens pitch Thomas Friedman has been making: that American neo-cons and environmentalists now find themselves natural allies? Amanda Griscom Little interviewed Friedman and learned more:
Q: Your columns on geo-greenism generally describe the concept in terms of its foreign-policy advantages rather than its environmental advantages. Why?
A: I'm trying to bring in a whole new constituency. I'm not worried about the environmental community that's already concerned about climate change, as I am. I'm trying to educate a whole different part of the populace to get them to connect these dots.
I think there is a little bit of a wider movement here, already:
Here Friedman is, spelling out his own confusion:
Besides a gas tax, what other methods for reducing energy dependence would you propose?
I'd focus on two other things: I would begin building more nuclear power, and I'd have a carbon tax on coal and all high-emission energies that would raise their cost and make wind and solar much more cost-efficient.
Again, I ask - what does nuclear power have to do with energy independence from the Middle East? If someone thinks it has something to do with natural gas, then I'd remind them that 97% of our natural gas imports come from two countries: Canada and Trinidad. Last I checked, there don't seem to be any confounding geopolitical difficulties with those two countries and the United States. I'd also like to note that we produce about 85% of our own natural gas.
Let's keep in mind the whole point of this "geogreen" strategy is for national security, but let's see what he has to say about nuclear material:
You say we need to ramp up nuclear power, but how would you deal with the storage and security problems it poses?
We're going to have to bury it in a mountain in Nevada, and Nevada is going to have to suck it up. That's how I would deal with it. The risk of climate change by continuing to rely on hydrocarbons is so much greater than the risk of nuclear power.
There we have it - the old "bury it in the ground" solution. No need to worry about terrorists getting their hands on material to make a suitcase nuke or a dirty bomb, or any concerns about the risks and costs associated with protecting all these new plants -- let's just build them because they're a "climate change" solution. The nuclear industry couldn't have said it better.
Then we get treated to some details about his personal life - his massive suburban home that uses so much energy that there isn't enough renewable energy to actually power it. But, hey, he has three hybrids (and how many other cars?) - so it's all good.
The best part is where he admits that Bush won't pay any attention to his proposal, so we realize that this is just an effort by him to distance himself from his absurd position in supporting the farce of a war in Iraq.
Too little too late, Tom.
what does nuclear power have to do with energy independence from the Middle East?
Well, if you could snap your fingers and switch all gas-fired power plants to nuclear, then you could redirect that natural gas to transportation ... then those cars are powered by Canada and Trinidad.
But the problem for nuclear proponents (I'm not really one) is the timeline. It takes sooooo long to design nukes, get the land, and fight the NIMBYs, that there's no point worrying about it.
At least that's my outlook. We can tackle energy efficiency immediately. We don't have to wait 15 years for a new refrigerator or washing machine to come on-line.
Look at all the places "energy star" ratings are translated into taking "cars off the road" (google search)
Friedman was on the Daily Show a few days ago. He made some interesting comments on "energy independence" being the new space race... something to galvanize the next generation of Americans and re-invigorate US science and engineering programs.
Also caught former (Clinton) CIA head James Woolsey on 'Living on Earth', he had a similar perspective:
WOOLSEY: Well, I would sign up to being a tree-hugger for a long time, as well as to, in some people's eyes, I guess, a sort of foreign policy hawk. I think all hawks ought to be tree-huggers. Where else you going to nest?