Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman gives a unique perspective on the importance of going Green. Friedman is not some hippie environmentalist. He is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, and his arguments are logically, economically, politically, and environmentally sound. He argues that we need to go Green not only to save the polar bears and pandas, but also to reduce fierce competition for resources, prevent petrodictatorships, reverse climate change, end energy poverty, and stop the loss of biodiversity. I want to focus on the petrodictatorship part because that is a unique idea which could impact the way Americans think about oil consumption.
“No taxation without representation.” Remember that saying from your 5th grade US History class? Now I know the US government is not perfect, but essentially our leaders can not become complete dictators because they depend on the people for taxes, and in return the people get representation in government. But what if the government doesn’t need taxes to fund itself? What if the leaders have a huge source of revenue based on oil exports? Then a different saying comes around, “No taxation, so no representation.” Hence the extreme petrodictatorships plaguing many countries today.
Eventually, the money earned in many oil producing nations (like Saudi Arabia or Nigeria) funds social, political, and religious extremists. Members of the OPEC oil cartel earned an astonishing $535 billion in exports in 2007 (Friedman, 79). Every time we pump foreign fuel into our cars, we are paying the terrorists. Do you want to fund terrorism? Hot, Flat, and Crowded describes the problems of our oil obsession, but also about the solutions. We need energy innovations, a floor price on oil and gas, renewable energy, a tax on gasoline, and a halt on deforestation. AND we need all that stuff with a big dose of patriotism and national purpose. Friedman points out that by focusing our efforts on a Green Revolution, we can revitalize America. That is why I believe that “Green is the new Red White and Blue”.