Monday, May 28, 2012

Father Profit vs. Mother Nature

"There is only one thing bigger than Mother Nature and that is Father Profit, and we have not even begun to enlist him in this struggle."

- Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman in Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How it Can Renew America, p. 291

This book changed my thinking substantially. I no longer look at global climate change the way I did before, and I believe I'm much better informed on the topic having read this book. Friedman's treatment of climate change within the context of several interrelated issues such as petrodictatorship, energy poverty, biodiversity, ecology, and the ethics behind the issues makes for not only interesting reading, but a much more compelling overall argument on why a green revolution is not just needed, but inevitable.

Additional quotes I found insightful:

"...'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[1] calls 'fuels from heaven' - wind, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and solar power. These all come from above ground, and are endlessly renewable, and produce no harmful emissions." p.69
- [1] reference to Rochelle Lefkowitz, president of Pro-Media Communication

"I don't believe in evolution - I only believe in intelligent design. We need intelligently designed policies to give us the best chance possible to produce the breakthroughs we need." p.293
- Amos Avidan, a principal vice president of Bechtel Corporation and expert on building big power stations

"Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth." p.308
- Oystein Dahle, former vice president of Exxon for Norway and the North Sea

Friedman's book confirms my belief in TANSTAAFM which is a term I coined which plays off of TANSTAAFL.  Replace the final "L for lunch" with "M for market".  There ain't no such thing as a free market. As much as I'm a free market advocate, the truth is no market of truly free. Government regulation and special interest influence on government regulation is a fact of life as long as human beings with their penchant for power and money are in the equation. That is why the quote at the top is the one I found the most insightful. The only way to put market forces to work for good is to have price incentives and profit motives that support good stewardship of our planet's resources.

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