Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I don't understand why NYT columnist Thomas Friedman gets such respect. Geez, if I can pick apart his arguments in a couple of minutes, how good can he be?

Here is an excerpt of his column today, with my thoughts in bold italics...

The energy, climate, water and pollution implications of adding another 2.5 billion mouths to feed, clothe, house and transport will be staggering. And this is coming, unless, as the deniers apparently believe, a global pandemic or a mass outbreak of abstinence will freeze world population — forever.

How many times have gloom and doomers tried scaring people with claims that the world is running out of resources, we're running out of space? We have no place for our garbage! We can't hope to feed all these people! It was bogus when the likes of Paul Ehrlich was making money selling books claiming that we were are doomed, it's sad that Friedman is trotting out the same dead horse to support his proposals.

So either the opponents of a serious energy/climate bill with a price on carbon don’t care about our being addicted to oil and dependent on petro-dictators forever or they really believe that we will not be adding 2.5 billion more people who want to live like us, so the price of oil won’t go up very far and, therefore, we shouldn’t raise taxes to stimulate clean, renewable alternatives and energy efficiency.

Thomas, you ignorant fool. We care about being dependent on petro-dictators... which is why we argue for more exploration and development both here in the United States as well as places controlled by friendlies. We also don't have objections to developing alternative energy sources, we just don't want our economy crippled in the process.

And there's more:

"Green hawks believe otherwise.... It has to be. And we believe that the country that invents and deploys the most E.T. (energy technology) will enjoy the most economic security, energy security, national security, innovative companies and global respect. And we believe that country must be America... And we believe the best way to launch E.T. is to set a fixed, long-term price on carbon — combine it with the Obama team’s impressive stimulus for green-tech — and then let the free market and innovation do the rest".

So, let's see, you want the free market to play a big part in developing ET... but only after you interfere with the free market by taxing carbon-based energy? You fear the effects of higher prices for carbon-based energy... and your response is to push up the price for carbon-based energy? If you want America to pay higher prices for carbon-based energy, why not just let the free market process play out? If you're right, America will be jump at developing lower priced energy sources... and with our ingenuity, we'd be sure to do so and without the resentment at our own government for being the ones driving up energy prices (wouldn't it be better if we were mad at the Saudis than our own government?). And if you're wrong and the price of carbon-based energy doesn't go through the roof, perhaps because exploration and development generates additional reserves, then so be it, we'll be happy to keep filling up our cars with gasoline and burning coal to provide electricity... and without having the economy take a hit for no good reason. Why fiddle where there's no need to fiddle?

And wait, there's still more:

So, as I said, you don’t believe in global warming? You’re wrong, but I’ll let you enjoy it until your beach house gets washed away.

Probably because you're a New York elitist who vacations on Long Island, you don't realize that I don't have a beach house, nor do most Americans. You also make the assumption - without offering any proof - that the effect of global warming would be a net negative. I'd be happy to play golf in 70 degree weather in January. I'd be happy not having to heat my house six months a year. Aren't there areas in the world that would become more productive agriculturally? And wouldn't that help to feed all the people wanting, as you put it, 'American sized Big Macs'?

What we have here is a failure (cue music from Guns and Roses). Friedman, by his own admission, buys into the whole global warming dogma, complete with apocalyptic consequences for us all if we don't rid ourselves of our addiction to gas. But as neither he nor his comrades have been able to convince America that we need to do so in order to (perhaps) slow down temperature growth (that may not be happening and which we may not be responsible for in the first place), he is trying another track: we're not supposed to give up gas because of global warming but because our economy will crash if we don't. I guess the easiest way of describing his strategy is something along the lines of "if you can't get what you want by scaring them with X, try scaring them with Y.... and if that doesn't work, try scaring them with Z".