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T. Friedman's New Bestseller Hot, Flat & Crowded Touts Plug-Ins

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  • Felix Kramer
    Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, often described as the world s most influential journalist, has a new book out this week,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 2008
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      Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist
      Thomas L. Friedman, often described as the
      world's most influential journalist, has a new
      book out this week, "Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why
      We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew
      America." On publication September 9, the book
      immediately went to #1 on Amazon's best-seller
      list, and it might do better than "The World is
      Flat," which sold over two million copies.

      Below we include our quick summary of some of the
      book's main themes; citations of sections in the
      book on plug-ins and CalCars, excerpts from
      reviews of the book in Climate Progress and in
      the Washington Post, and some of Friedman's recent columns.


      CATCHY PHRASES: Friedman is a great wordsmith;
      many of his phrases, including petropolitics,
      have caught on, and we hope this will continue.
      The book's working title was "Green is the New
      Red, White and Blue," a concept coined by
      Friedman, which has come into broad use in the
      past two years. Now Friedman's biggest message is
      that we've gone from the "Cold War Era" to the
      "Energy-Climate Era." Becauase of global
      geopolitical instability and climate change as a
      result of our addiction to fossil fuels, we now
      need a strategy for clean energy, energy
      efficiency and conservation that he calls "Code
      Green." This means that the big economic
      opportunities have shifted from IT (Information
      Technology) in recent decades to ET (renewable Environmental Technologies).

      It won't spoil the book to tell how he ends it,
      in a spirit of what he calls "sober optimism." He
      quotes from Amory Lovins' eulogy for Donella
      Meadows, a Dartmouth-based environmental expert
      and writer: "when asked if we have enough time to
      prevent catastrophe, she'd always say that we
      have exactly enough time -- starting now."


      BUY THE BOOK: Even before we've made it through
      the entire 412-page book we urge CalCars-News
      readers to read it. If you like it, consider
      buying multiple copies, because it could have an
      impact on how much these issues become part of
      the next two months of the Presidential
      campaign. Friedman has been among the most
      aggressive analysts urging that we go beyond
      "drill now" and finding new ways to make our
      addiction cheaper. Perhaps if the price of oil
      stabilizes for a few months around $100, the idea
      he and many economists propose -- creating a
      "floor" for oil prices through taxation policy
      may gain support. Buy it in your neighborhood and
      support your local bookstore; if you order it
      from Amazon, CalCars will get a few pennies if
      you start at http://www.calcars.org/books.html

      FRIEDMAN'S VIEWS HAVE EVOLVED: Many people who
      have disagreed with Friedman on some foreign
      policy specifics such as globalization and the
      war in Iraq have felt he's shown enormous
      leadership in greentech/cleantech. He says in the
      acknowledgments "I wrote this book as someone who
      was not thinking about his carbon footprint much
      before 2001, and who is thinking a lot about it
      now." We first encountered him in May 2005 at a
      book-signing in Palo Alto. Right around the same
      time, Gal Luft from Set America Free and Robbie
      Diamond from Securing America's Future Energy
      began talking with him about PHEVs. If you look
      back at the CalCars-News Archive
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html you'll
      see we've cited him almost two dozen times since
      he first wrote about PHEVs in 2005 -- including
      his proposals for a State of the Union Address
      that sound much like what Pres. Bush said in
      2006, and his Discovery Times Channel
      documentaries, "Addicted to Oil," and "Green: The
      New Red, White and Blue," in which we appeared.
      Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Friedman


      PHEV/CALCARS AND KRAMER SELF-PROMOTION FOLLOWS:
      We also suggest you buy the book because it puts
      our issues at the center of its strategies for a
      21st-century economy. In the chapter, "If it
      isn't boring, it isn't green," on page 290 he
      starts a new section by saying "But to get the
      most efficiency gains and to make the Energy
      Internet-smart grid complete requires that one
      more big piece of the puzzle be put into place --
      electrifying transportation, and moving as many
      cars, trucks, buses and trains away from
      exclusively combustion engines and into plug-in
      electric hybrids or plug-in all-electric cars."

      His clear and compelling explanation explains how
      electric miles are cleaner than gasoline miles
      even which much of the electricity comes from
      coal. And it includes, "Unlike gasoline-powered
      cars, the cleaner our grid gets, the cleaner
      plug-in cars will get," notes Felix Kramer, who
      head the California Cars Initiative, which
      promotes plug-in hybrids. "But this is just the
      beginning. What we need and are moving toward is
      the electrification of transportation. That is
      critical, because it will combine two large
      industrial sectors -- transportation and power
      generation. It gives the utilities what they have
      never had -- the potential for distributed energy
      storage, using all of our car batteries -- and it
      helps make both industries cheaper, more efficient and cleaner."

      The section ending on page 293 continues with a
      broad explanation of the capacity of today's
      power grid to support millions of plug-in cars,
      and what is needed from utilities and from the
      federal government to ensure common standards to
      enable cars to charge anywhere.

      In the acknowledgment section, on page 417,
      Friedman says, "Google.org's energy team,
      spearheaded by Larry Brilliant and Dan Reicher,
      was kind enough to give me an afternoon on the
      Google campus to share their assessment of the
      clean-tech opportunity, while Felix Kramer, who
      has made plug-in electric cars not only his
      passion but an imminent American reality, was
      always ready to take a query from me."

      ONE PERSONAL NOTE: I'm also gratified that
      Friedman elaborates on a concept from my wife, on page 32,
      "To put it another way, the Industrial Revolution
      gave a whole new prominence to what Rochelle
      Lefkowitz, President of Pro-Media Communications
      and an energy buff, calls 'fuels from hell' --
      coal, oil, and natural gas. All these fuels from
      hell come from underground, are exhaustible, and
      emit CO2 and other pollutants when they are
      burned for transportation, heating and industrial
      use. These fuels are in contrast to what
      Lefkowitz calls 'fuels from heaven' -- wind,
      hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and solar power.
      These all come from above ground, are endlessly
      renewable, and produce no harmful emissions."
      (Geothermal doesn't exactly fit into the scheme.
      The original categorization came from a smart
      Swiss engineer, Ulf Bosselll, whom I met in
      Iceland: http://www.efcf.com/reports/E23.pdf .)


      LINKS AND EXCERPTS: See also Wired, TIME and many
      others, and his book tour schedule at
      http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/appearances

      MEET THE PRESS September 8: Friedman appeared for
      about 10 minutes after Sen. Joe Biden --
      transcript at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26590488/page/5/

      CLIMATE PROGRESS BLOG BY JOSEPH ROMM (see URL for
      live links to other citations): Must read and
      must see: Hot, Flat, and Crowded
      http://climateprogress.org/2008/09/06/must-read-and-must-see-tv-hot-flat-and-crowded/

      "Like it or not, we need Tom Friedman." So begins
      Joseph Nye's cover review in Washington Post Book
      World on Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a
      Green Revolution ­ And How It Can Renew America.

      Friedman deserves attention because he is the
      only "big media" columnist in the country who
      regularly writes on energy and global warming
      issues. His book is already #59 on Amazon, and
      will no doubt jump higher after he appears on
      Meet the Press Sunday, which I would certainly
      urge everyone to watch. After all, he is not only
      the most high-profile columnist on this issue, he is the most thoughtful.

      And I'm not just saying that because he
      interviewed me several times. I am quite
      confident that most ClimateProgress readers will
      be impressed by this book, even those who may not
      agree with every foreign policy position that
      Friedman has espoused. Or perhaps especially those progressives. Why?

      We can't institute the policies needed to save
      the nation and the world from multi-decade (if
      not multi-century) catastrophe if traditional
      progressives are the only ones pushing this
      issue. That's why I take Friedman's writing on
      this issue as so important. He's not one of "the
      usual suspects." He looks at things from a more
      centrist (and multi-Pulitzer-Prize-winning!)
      perspective ­- with a strong "national power"
      angle, which is presumably why they asked Nye to
      review his book (since Nye is a security expert):

      Friedman believes we need to become "green
      hawks," turning conservation and cleaner energy
      into a winning strategy in many different arenas,
      including the military. ("Nothing," he writes,
      "will make you a believer in distributed solar
      power faster than having responsibility for
      trucking fuel across Iraq.") We should stop
      defining our current era as "post-Cold War," he
      says, and see it as an "Energy-Climate Era"
      marked by five major problems: growing demand for
      scarcer supplies, massive transfer of wealth to
      petrodictators, disruptive climate change, poor
      have-nots falling behind, and an accelerating
      loss of bio-diversity. A green strategy is not
      simply about generating electric power, it is a
      new way of generating national power.

      Incremental change will not be enough. The
      three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the
      New York Times scoffs at the kind of magazine
      articles that list "205 Easy Ways to Save the Earth"….

      We need a lot more of the Tom Friedmans of the
      world to start articulating the dire nature of
      our energy and climate problems and the urgent
      need for a clean energy transition.

      Of course, I have no doubt that his positions on
      climate and clean energy will lead the right wing
      to go after him. He has recently written a couple
      of great op-eds on McCain's sham
      "green"-ness: "Eight Strikes and You're Out,"
      calling out McCain for missing eight straight
      votes on renewable tax credits. "And Then There
      Was One," which explains that by choosing Palin,
      McCain has "completed his makeover from the
      greenest Republican to run for president to just
      another representative of big oil."

      But then anyone who immerses themselves in the
      facts on climate, oil, and clean energy
      inevitably becomes an alarmist ­- and a believer
      in the urgent need for progressive government
      policies ­- much as happened to IPCC head
      Rajendra Pachauri (see "What are the moral
      implications of the Palin pick?") and, in a
      different way, T. Boone Pickens (see "Pickens in
      a pickle: He embraces progressive policies but not progressive politicians").

      By the 2020s, the vast majority of Americans will
      be alarmists. But of course delaying action until
      then means we can't avoid catastrophic outcomes
      except with the most onerous of government
      policies. The challenge for our national leaders
      is to start very aggressive mitigation long
      before then, before everyone 'gets' it. And that
      I'm afraid will require the high-profile
      centrists of the nation to rise up and bring
      their heft and credibility to the climate fight.

      Kudos to Friedman for joining taking on the most
      important fight in human history.


      SUNDAY WASHINGTON POST COVER REVIEW: A Climate
      for Change: Tom Friedman says Americans can
      prosper by "outgreening" everyone else. Reviewed
      by Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished
      Service Professor at Harvard and author, most
      recently, of "The Powers to Lead."
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/04/AR2008090402639.html?sub=AR

      Like it or not, we need Tom Friedman....In this
      important book, Friedman says we can survive, even prosper, by going green.

      Of course, rousing a full-bellied nation, groggy
      from decades of energy overconsumption, is no
      small task. As the current election debate
      reminds us, the United States has proven inept at
      developing a serious energy strategy. Our
      approach, says one expert quoted by Friedman, is
      "the sum of all lobbies"; we have energy politics
      rather than energy policy. In the aftermath of
      9/11, George W. Bush ignored calls by Friedman
      and others for a "USA Patriot Tax" of $1 per
      gallon on gasoline. Instead, the president
      offered tax cuts and urged us to shop. Rather
      than stimulating the economy to move toward
      fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable energy, we
      became more dependent on China to finance our
      deficit and Saudi Arabia to fill our gas tanks.
      Americans wound up paying even more for gas in
      2008, but we enabled OPEC to be the tax collector
      instead of using the revenues ourselves. Friedman
      calls this a "No Mullah Left Behind" policy and
      quotes former CIA director Jim Woolsey: "We are
      funding the rope for the hanging of ourselves."

      Friedman believes we need to become "green
      hawks," turning conservation and cleaner energy
      into a winning strategy in many different arenas,
      including the military. ("Nothing," he writes,
      "will make you a believer in distributed solar
      power faster than having responsibility for
      trucking fuel across Iraq.") We should stop
      defining our current era as "post-Cold War," he
      says, and see it as an "Energy-Climate Era"
      marked by five major problems: growing demand for
      scarcer supplies, massive transfer of wealth to
      petrodictators, disruptive climate change, poor
      have-nots falling behind, and an accelerating
      loss of bio-diversity. A green strategy is not
      simply about generating electric power, it is a
      new way of generating national power.

      Incremental change will not be enough. The
      three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the
      New York Times scoffs at the kind of magazine
      articles that list "205 Easy Ways to Save the
      Earth." In the 1990s, global carbon dioxide
      emissions rose 1.1 percent annually, and many
      nations (not including the United States) signed
      the Kyoto Protocol to try to curb those
      emissions. But from 2000 to 2006, growth in
      CO2emissions tripled to 3 percent per year.

      China uses coal, a particularly CO2-intensive
      fuel, for 70 percent of its commercial energy
      supply, while coal accounts for a third of
      America's total energy. China builds more than
      one new coal-fired power plant each week. Coal is
      cheap and widely available in China, which is
      important as the country scrambles for energy
      resources to keep its many energy-intensive
      industries running. But Friedman does not deal
      with the issue of cleaner coal in China, and no
      amount of renewable energy in America will solve
      the problem. At the rate China is growing, a
      Chinese switch to renewables will come too late.

      What can the United States do about this security
      threat? The bombs, bullets and embargos of
      traditional security policy are irrelevant. A
      2007 report from the International Energy Agency
      urged a cooperative approach to helping China and
      India become more energy efficient. In other
      words, to promote our own security, the United
      States and other rich countries may have to forge
      a partnership with China, India and others to
      develop a full range of creative ideas,
      technologies and policies to prevent dangerous
      climate change. This requires a reframing of what
      we think of as national security and a more
      inclusive strategy than we have had in the past.
      If we finally move in that direction, Friedman
      will deserve some of the credit. ·


      FRIEDMAN'S RECENT NYTIMES COLUMNS on energy (URLs include dates):
      * Georgia on My Mind http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/opinion/07friedman.html
      * And Then There Was One:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/03/opinion/03friedman.html
      * Eight Strikes and You're Out:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/opinion/13friedman.html
      * Flush with Energy http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/opinion/10friedman1.html
      * Learning to Speak Climate
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/opinion/06friedman.html
      * Texas to Tel Aviv http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/opinion/27friedman.html
      * 911 and 411 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/opinion/20friedman.html




      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      http://www.calcars.org
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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