Sunday, March 01, 2009

Green Revolution

Jerry gave me a book by Thomas L. Friedman called Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America.

I read most of it in the airport and on the plane home.

It's the most realistic take on "green" that I have seen so far. The honesty is so refreshing that I feel the book should be required reading for all Americans, or at the very least, all greenies. Unfortunately, the honest truth is very depressing. But I think the truth is what people need to hear and accept, so they stop patting themselves on the back for using one less plastic grocery bag. What I especially like about the book is that although the author basically refers to the current green movement as "a fool's errand" (he uses these exact words to describe the "green" Wal-Mart in Texas), and has a very funny chapter called 205 Easy Ways to Save the Earth (which points out the idiocy in such a way that I LOL on the airplane and startled the woman next to me), the author then follows up his admonishments with an actual list of requirements to save the planet (page 213). He did not write the list himself. It came from 2 engineering and ecology professors in a paper written for the Science journal. The list is sobering, difficult, and can not be accomplished by any one human being alone. It reinforces the comments made by John Javna when he republished 50 Simple Things. That it is irresponsible and wrong to indicate that individuals have any impact at all by performing simple things. The scale of the problem is so huge that it will require a huge public or corporate effort to make the change.

There are 15 things on the list. Mr Friedman says we need to do 8 of them in the next 50 years or less. The professors who wrote the concept say it is only 7, but who's counting at this point? Mr Friedman says that accomplishing even one of the things would be a miracle.

To see the list firsthand you can Google "socolow pacala wedges" to get many results. Try clicking this link to see a sort-of slideshow that is easy to read. As you read it, remember that everyone must participate in order for these goals to be achieved, and as Mr Friedman and many policy scholars remind us: "volunteerism doesn't work."

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