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Tom Friedman Has a Way with Words

Dan Lashof

Posted January 8, 2009

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The Senate Environment Committee got the 111th Congress off to a great start yesterday with a briefing on spurring economic recovery through green tech investing by Tom Friedman, the author most recently of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, and John Doerr, the legendary venture capitalist behind Sun Microsystems, Amazon, and Google.

Their message was clear and compelling. In fact, this was the best panel I have ever attended on global warming, energy, and the economy. And I have attended a lot of panels. Friedman led off by focusing on five major challenges-energy and natural resources supply and demand, petrodictatorship, climate change, energy poverty, and biodiversity loss-arguing that the good news is that all of the problems can be solved with a clean and efficient Energy Technology (ET) revolution. Not a completely novel point, but the way Friedman delivers the message is unparalleled. One clever turn of phrase after another, yet he manages to do it without seeming too clever. Watch the video here.

John Doerr followed up with real world stories about green tech entrepreneurs who have the potential to transform ET over the next 15 years the same way Silicone Valley entrepreneurs (many with financial backing from Doerr himself) transformed IT over the last 15 years. He then offered a comprehensive set of six policies needed to support the ET revolution:

  • Unified National Smart Grid
  • Put a PRICE on CARBON and a CAP on Carbon Emissions
  • National Renewable Portfolio Standard
  • Utility regulations (and incentives to drive efficiency, decoupling
  • Get serious about funding R&D and D at scale
  • Double the number of qualified engineers graduating from U.S. universities

Read his prepared statement here.

Chairman Boxer and six members of the committee (including new members Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley) engaged in a lively discussion with the panel. The most important question was asked by Senator Tom Udall: Should we start now or should we wait for the economic crisis to abate? Both Friedman and Doerr argued for starting now, both through the economic stimulus bill and by putting a price on carbon to create the needed incentives to put people to work deploying ET at scale. This critical issue is addressed head on and in more detail in a policy brief NRDC released yesterday. The key point is that if a carbon cap is enacted in 2009 the actual emission limits and price on carbon would not kick in for several years. In the meantime the future value of emission allowances can be used as a kind of collateral to mobilize immediate ET investments, putting people back to work now.


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Ray Tapajna - Tapsearch EditorJan 8 2009 03:26 PM

You can explore the lost worlds in the globalist free trader Flat World of Thomas Friedman, the Clintons, the Bush family, Alan Greenspan and in the Obama world at It is a "corker" - see site for connotation of corker.
First of all the Silicon Valley never made a comeback. Companies like Seagate kept about 10,000 workers in the USA and about a 100,000 outside the USA and primarily in Asian. Now about 50 percent of these workers have been cut. In parts of Asia, they are worst off than they were before the high technology manufacturers came. And we know now in our current economic crisis, what follows all this here in the USA.

Thomas Friedman now switches gears and promotes "green industries". Nothing much will come from it if we create the innovations here and do the R&D here and then send the production end of the process outside the USA.

Furthermore, there has been nothing worst than the pollution coming from "dirty" factories outside the USA where many manufacturers escape to avoid all the regulations.

Furthermore, one of the worst things in destroying the green earth is all the long haul shipping by ship, air, train and trucks that are used to bring the products in.

Read about the dark side of energy saving light bulbs which gives you an idea about all this at It is a story about energy saving light bulbs made in "dirty" factories with mercury out in the open and then taking 8000 miles of long haul shipping and fuel to get to the USA

And you can ponder all this while waiting at a railroad crossing watching all the shipping containers rolling by full of imports.

Many of the containers have the logo COSCO on them. COSCO is the giant Chinese shipping company owned by the Chinese Liberation Army.

Green products most likely will travel the same long journey to from "dirty" manufacturing environments outside the USA

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