Friedman urges green revolution

By Rochelle McConkie, Staff Writer

According to Thomas Friedman, green is the new red, white and blue.

The renowned New York Times columnist and bestselling author urged a packed audience at Abravanel Hall on Tuesday night to start a “green revolution” using energy technology. Friedman said during his lecture, the keynote address of “The Nature of Things” series presented by the Utah Museum of Natural History and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, that Americans should lead the revolution, which will bring security and economic and national power.

“We are at a really critical moment,” Friedman said. “The hour is late, the project is hard, but the payoff couldn’t be greater and we have exactly enough time, starting now.”

Friedman spoke about his new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which addresses the impacts of global warming, the rise of the middle class and population growth. These three separate flames converge to create a large fire that involves the problems of energy and natural resources supply and demand, “petrodictatorship” and gas consumption, climate change, energy poverty and biodiversity loss, he said.

Friedman said these problems occur when the rest of the world “starts to live like us,” meaning they take on the American consumer lifestyle. He said all five problems have one solution8212;energy technology through innovation, efficiency, conservation and clean, cheap, reliable electrons and molecules.

Eric Boardman, a senior in urban planning and environmental studies, said he appreciated Friedman’s pragmatic approach.

“Sometimes I think people like Al Gore blow things out of proportion,” he said. “The economy still has to function.”

Boardman said he agreed with Friedman’s statement that engaging in a green revolution will not be a painless process. He said that in his own life, he tries to reduce his carbon footprint, but he echoed Friedman’s position that one of the best ways to make changes in society is to introduce environmental science to elementary school-age children.

“If you want to make a generational paradigm shift, you have to start from the bottom,” Boardman said.

Friedman encouraged young people to lead the green revolution through activism.

“Exxon Mobil, they’re not on Facebook, they’re in your face. They’re not in the chat room, they’re in the cloak room,” he said. “If you want to be an environmentalist, learn the rules8212;get out of Facebook and into someone’s face.”

Friedman said that the real issue comes down to leadership, and that the greatest political impediment to the green revolution is a lack of political courage.

He applauded the recent federal stimulus package, which he said has wonderful green components, though he would prefer instituting a carbon tax over President Barack Obama’s proposed cap and trade system.

Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers said the issue of developing a green energy policy must cross party lines.

“Pragmatism is going to have to supersede partisanship very quickly,” said Jowers, a Republican. “On the environment and so many other issues, we are reaching a state of emergency, but neither political party seems willing to see it that way.”

The Hinckley Institute honored Friedman as a Hinckley fellow for his relationship with the U. Friedman spoke at Kingsbury Hall in 2001 following Sept. 11.

Since Sept. 11, Friedman said that America has “lost its groove.”

“We get our groove back by taking on the world’s biggest problem,”8212;and we do it now, he said. “Later is officially over.”

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Thien Sok

New York Times Columnist, Thomas Friedman gave a lecture at Abravanel Hall Tuesday night. Friedman talked about why America needed a green revolution.