Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tom Friedman on COP15

Great opening quote in this Grist interview with Tom Friedman:

Where the US goes, so goes the world. But we can’t lead the world without charting a path for ourselves.


Here's another heady bit of thought:

The issue of climate change rubs so many Americans the wrong way. You have to start the conversation with the American people on energy, not climate. The conversation has to be about making Americans more innovative, more energy secure,  more economically competitive, a world leader. If you start on climate you’re dead—you can’t move people on this issue, first of all because they don’t feel it in their lives. People don’t want to hear they’re going to die - they’re inspired by self interest and by hope.

I learned one thing covering the Arab-Israeli conflict: the way you get big change is by getting the big players to do the right things for the wrong reasons. If you wait for everyone to do the right thing for the right reason, you’re going to be waiting a long, long time.

I've commented a bit here about my success in getting even climate change deniers to agree on solutions by focusing on energy and the other things Friedman talks about.

Sure, it's frustrating that so many people just can't wrap their heads around climate change.  But given that there are multiple pathways to our solutions, it's certainly easier to go with what works for the bulk of the public to get stuck on one way of getting there.

One more bit for my fellow Patriots -- Friedman's response to a question about what President Obama should have said at Copenhagen:

He should look Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, in the eye and say: “Mr. Wen, I just have one thing to say to you: We are going all in on clean tech. I’m going home and I’m going to get through the U.S. Senate a cap-and-trade bill, a carbon price, a carbon tax, whatever it is that will trigger massive scale investment in clean tech in America. And please take this message back to China: We will bury you. We are going to bury you in clean tech.” And then Wen would get up and walk out of the room and he’d go back to China and say: “We are going to bury you, pal. Okay?” And then we have the world’s two biggest powers having an arms race on clean tech.

Really, if I were Obama I’d be working day and night to get through the U.S. Senate a cap-and-trade bill or a carbon price on the assumption that once we do it, everything falls into place. And then you come back to the world and say: “We’ve done it. We’re gonna bury you in solar panels. We’re going to bury you in wind farms. We’re going to bury you in cellulosic ethanol.”

That's the type of positive vision, appealing to our competitive independent spirit, that America really needs right now.  Maybe in the end, China's successes will help unify Americans to strive for victory in a good arms race -- one to lead the world in clean tech... 

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