It’s a sad day when one must turn to the comics page of the newspaper, not the op-ed page, for wisdom. “Global warming is now called climate change,” explained the liberal character in the strip “Prickly City” on Jan. 27, “so no matter what happens it can be blamed on people.” Indeed.
But while there’s skepticism in the Style section, a belief in human-caused “climate change” remains alive on the op-ed page. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has leapt off that page with an entire book about the dangers of “climate change” (although he frequently errs and calls it “global warming” -- how quaint).
In “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” Friedman lays out his vision of a sustainable planet. “We can no longer expect to enjoy peace and security, economic growth and human rights if we continue to ignore the key problems of the Energy-Climate Era,” he writes.
Like the blind squirrel that finds an acorn, Friedman’s actually correct about several of these items. Yes, the world needs to develop cleaner sources of power, and needs to deliver that power to more people. Our planet’s population is going to grow over the next several decades, and the developed West cannot simply tell people in the underdeveloped Rest to go on living in poverty. They want, and deserve a chance at, a better life.
There are two real problems: Friedman’s proposed prescriptions wouldn’t work, and he doesn’t seem to believe what he writes, anyway.
Let’s consider that second point first. There’s a reference on virtually every page to the author’s global travels. “In the fall of 2007, I visited two cities you may have never heard of—Doha [Qatar] and Dalian [China],” he begins one chapter. A few months later, “I flew to Bali [Indonesia] via Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.”
Friedman even provides restaurant reviews. Strawberry lemonade is “a specialty of the house” at “the faculty club on the palm-tree-lined Caltech campus in Pasadena,” he writes. Remember that the next time you’re dining there. Add it up and Friedman doesn’t have a “carbon footprint,” as the environmentalists like to say. He’s a carbon “Mariana Trench,” a crater so deep he’s miles and miles below sea level.
And that’s the point. Conservation, like charity, begins at home. If someone believes CO2 emissions are a problem, he would naturally attempt to limit his CO2 emissions. Instead Friedman is flying around the globe -- ironically, often to attend far-flung environmental conferences.