David Roberts reviews Thomas Friedman’s new Book

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Friedman's cheerleading for globalization has brought brickbats not only from economic populists but also from environmentalists, who point out that if China and India raise their per-capita resource consumption to American levels, the world is well and truly doomed. Unsustainable development poses a serious challenge to Friedman's globalist vision and indeed, an existential dilemma for humanity. Our disasters are no longer local; we're playing with all the chips now. To his credit, Friedman doesn't try to dodge or minimize the challenges. The first half or so of the book is a solemn tour of woes: "the growing demand for ever scarcer energy supplies and natural resources; a massive transfer of wealth to oil-rich countries and their petrodictators; disruptive climate change; energy poverty, which is sharply dividing the world into electricity haves and electricity have-nots; and rapidly accelerating biodiversity loss, as plants and animals go extinct at record rates."

These metastasizing dangers don't for a second cause Friedman to question his commitment to globalization. He's determined to make the project work, and green is the key that he hopes will open the way. Happily, his instincts on green issues turn out to be considerably more reliable than his instincts on foreign policy. In the name of energy independence, a lot of other self-consciously butch new greens support ethanol and other biofuels, which raise the price of food and encourage deforestation, or "clean coal," which blows the tops off of mountains. Friedman doesn't fall into those traps. He's found the right people to talk to, focused on the correct inflection points, and hit on the best answers to the biggest questions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources

Posted October 26, 2008 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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