It's the Environment, Stupid.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friedman - Addicted to Oil

Last night I attended a sold out event sponsored by The New York Times in conjunction with The New School featuring pulitzer prize winning journalist, Thomas Friedman, and his documentary, Addicted to Oil.

First of all - I liked the documentary. It was more of an investigative, journalistic news magazine, and totally different than the Al Gore movie. Addicted to Oil covered oil (as the title indicates), mainly in relation to vehicles and spent a lot of time on plug in hybrid cars, with a little bit about how the hydrogen car more than likely won't be viable any time soon, and a little bit with Amory Lovins and his lightweight, super strong, carbon material. The documentary also explored renewable energy sources (well, wind and solar anyway), and it presented renewable energy, and energy efficient building as smart business models (Texas Instruments, Bill McDonough, and an Aspen ski area to name a few). Unlike the Al Gore movie, Addicted to Oil dealt with climate change in a non-doom and gloom fashion, and it provided potential technological solutions to our oil "problem".

After the screening, Friedman took the stage. He explained that there is a "method to [his] madness", reiterating a theme he stressed in the video, "This is not your parent's energy crisis." He then listed four reasons why. 1) Our (the U.S.) reliance on oil is funding terrorism. 2) there is going to be an increasing energy demand with China and India's expected economic growth. 3) green power - it'll be a growth industry in the 21st century (with or without the U.S.). 4) Geopolitical/democracy (my notes are fuzzy on this point, but something to the effect that with the rise in the price of oil, the less "free" or democratized a country becomes).

Friedman also made a few other points that aren't always talked about within the non-green realm. One being that we need to rename green, or rather change the image of green and take it mainstream. Green, as it stands now (he says) is a liberal term that the conservatives turn into a bad word, that winds up pitting democrats against republicans rather than developing positive change. He also said that despite the lack of action from the federal government, there is a lot going on (as far as green building/energy solutions) in the U.S. on local and state levels. Of course these aren't new points, but I think it was the first time many people in the audience had heard these ideas presented - a woman sitting behind me said to her companion, "I like that Cradle to Cradle stuff."

During the audience Q&A I had to ask, since it wasn't even mentioned or alluded to in the documentary or in Friedman's comments - What did he think of nuclear power? He said he is not opposed to nuclear power and that there is no magic bullet for energy security - we'll need a little bit of everything, he said.

Everything but oil perhaps.


  • Great work Amy. I'm going to read through the rest of your blog when I get a chance. Thanks for the link. -Nick

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