Off to the Earth Races

The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed: the Market, argues NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman

Published: 27-Jan-2010

I’ve long believed there are two basic strategies for dealing with climate change — the “Earth Day” strategy and the “Earth Race” strategy. This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need.

Indeed, anyone who watched the chaotic way this conference was “organized,” and the bickering by delegates with which it finished, has to ask whether this 17-year U.N. process to build a global framework to roll back global warming is broken: too many countries — 193 — and too many moving parts. I leave here feeling more strongly than ever that America needs to focus on its own Earth Race strategy instead. Let me explain.

The Earth Day strategy said that the biggest threat to mankind is climate change, and we as a global community have to hold hands and attack this problem with a collective global mechanism for codifying and verifying everyone’s carbon-dioxide emissions and reductions and to transfer billions of dollars in clean technologies to developing countries to help them take part.


Toyota Prius with solar panels on roof that provide 165 watts of power per hour, not enough to propel the car more than a couple miles.

Solar Electric Vehicles sells its version of a plug-in Prius, with a solar panel installed, for $25,000.

Solar Millennium's AnderSol-2 solar thermal project in Egypt.

Retrofitting existing power plants is a low-cost option for solar-thermal projects because the steam turbines that are needed come for free.

Professor David Banister

Travel growth in a car-dependent society must be confronted so that people travel less, not more, writes Oxford Professor of Transportation Studies at Oxford University, David Banister.


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