Who Will Succeed Al Gore? – New York Times

I’m glad the NY Times did away with “Times Select.” I missed reading Thomas Friedman every week. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I learned that I could read full articles on Salon (without some kind of subscription) again. A few years back both Salon and The New Republic started charging, and I decided I’d pay for one… which ended up being TNR. Then came “Times Select,” and my golden age of internet politics reporting came to an end.

TNR is still charging, but I’m paid up through the year – so once again all my favorites are back online (throwing in a pinch of Slate, and a handful of TPM).

Please excuse me if my intro to this entry is a little incoherent. I’m doing some prescription meds for pain this afternoon.

Anyway, the point of this entry is not to rejoice in my good fortune, but to share with you an excerpt from Mr Friedman’s column this morning that got my head nodding in agreement.

Who Will Succeed Al Gore? – New York Times:

Most of the Republican candidates seem to be brain-dead on the energy/climate challenge. And it is amazing to me how flat-out wrong some conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh, can be on this issue.They can’t see what is staring us in the face — that in pushing American companies to become greener, we are pushing them to become more productive, more innovative, more efficient and more competitive. You can’t make a product greener without making it smarter and more in demand — whether it is a refrigerator or a microchip. Just ask G.E. or Wal-Mart or Sun Microsystems. You can’t make an army greener without making it more secure. Just ask the U.S. Army officers who are desperate for distributed solar power, so they won’t have to depend on diesel fuel to power their bases in Iraq — fuel that has to be trucked all across that country, only to get blown up by insurgents. In pushing our companies to go green we are spurring them to take the lead in the next great global industry — clean power.

People say that investing money in protecting the environment is bad because it’s a drain on the economy. As Mr Friedman suggests, I don’t think that has to be the case at all. It seems to me that protecting the environment can simutaneously save us from ourselves AND invigorate the economy with investment.

Although it’s not a sure thing, research often produces unanticipated scientific discoveries… so why no put more money in research of alternative energy sources?

People have already shown that they’ll buy cars with hybrid powertrains, so why not subsidize them (through more, non-expiring tax credits)? How does spuring car buying hurt the economy? The more people are buying them, the more incentive car makers have to perfect battery technology, and the closer we get to a car with no emissions.

Public works projects create decent paying jobs, so why not invest in more mass transit (and getting some people out of their cars altogether)? Some people say Americans don’t do mass transit. I’d respond that outside of big cities like New York, how would you know? I live in the most densely populated county in Florida, and we’ve got virtually no mass transit to speak of.

All of these things could put a big dent in the two of the big culprits in U.S. emissions: cars and coal fired power-plants. In the case of transportation, it seems to me we could realize a significant change in emissions rather quickly.


  1. I’m glad you didn’t (make a quick getaway). I’ll be looking forward to your posts. Health care has been on my mind lately – distracting me a bit – but I think you’re right about the environment, and time growing short. I find a little hope (not a lot, but a little) in the fact that there seem to be more U.S. conservatives coming around. I think politics is a little like the environment, in that change can seem to be coming slowly… then reach a tipping point that results in a sea change in attitudes/political will. The trick will be to swing that change in attitude soon enough to prevent our looming environmental crisis.

    I was picking through George Monbiot’s blog the other day (I think you had linked to it, either in one of your blog posts, or in another comment). Afterwards (this evening) I went over to Fictionwise and eReader to see if I could find his book (as an ebook), but I struck out.

    Ah well. It’s been a pretty good day… something was bound not to go my way eventually.

  2. Prescription pain meds make me more coherent, like Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP. I don’t know what your problem is, JK! :-)

    I have Heat by George Monbiot on order from Chapters (the Cdn version of Amazon), a book that paints a pretty grim picture on climate change — if we don’t start acting immediately. But the author is also confident that humanity can be smart and clever and compassionate, and maybe save the world in the process. I’ll be writing more about it in the future.

    North America is screwing up the rest of the world. Canada and the US are among the world’s top four polluters. Limbaugh and his cronies are so simple-minded (and wrong) that they are destroying the country they supposedly love so much.

    Climate change is real, and it’s serious. I have hope that Canada will turn the corner soon.

    The leader of the Liberal Party in Canada is trying to rewire the party, turning it to the left, by incorporating the environmental cost into everything our government does. And he’s certain that rather than making Canada into an economic basket case, he will make us the world’s most progressive country, and create employment and wealth in the process. I so want him to win, but he’s an intellectual, and French, and speaks English with a heavy accent, so he has a serious challenge ahead of him. (Canada’s prime ministers have been French for the last 25 years, until the current guy won a minority).

    Right now, of course, he’s in opposition, and our current leader (Stephen Harper) comes from oil-rich Alberta, and he has no intention of doing anything other than following Bush’s lead, which pretty much means sabotaging more progressive European countries. It’s so discouraging.

    The good news in Canada is that all three opposition parties (Liberals, New Democrats, and the Bloc Quebecois) are now leaning to the left, and they want Canada to get serious about the environment. And our fifth party is the Green Party. They are gaining in popular support, and seem destined to win a few seats in the next parliament. I hope politicians of every stripe work together to bring down the Conservatives this fall. And then I want them to work together to make climate change our top priority — if the Liberals do not form a majority.

    So Canada is late to the game, but we should start doing better on climate change.

    And then… one year from now, the Republicans will get their ass handed to them, and we can start to transform North America, if the Democratic leaders get with the program, and understand that fighting climate change is as important as fighting fascism was 70 years ago.

    So you know what I think Mr. Gore should do.

    :::: And to think that I was only going to make the Johnny Fever comment, and make a quick getaway! ::::

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