(The Earth Is Full – Thomas Friedman, New York Times) – 06/09/11
Thomas Friedman had a piece in the New York Times today, about our lack of response to global warming and food crises has been over the past decade, compared to the American government’s very proactive and ambitious policies against combatting terrorism. Since terrorism isn’t a threat to our existence, and global warming is, Friedman asks some of his pet sources when we will finally get our act together. A scientist concludes that humanity will suddenly realize the magnitude of the problem, and only then start making the decades-long transition to clean energy. “We’re slow, but we’re not stupid,” claims the optimistic Dr. Doomsday.
• First, assuming the liberal claims of impending environment doom are true, and we are indeed facing multiple enviromental assaults from rising sea levels to uncontrollable levels of methane and carbon dioxide in the air — and we only respond to calamities when cities are drowning and the oceans are contaminated with chemicals, our decades-long response will hardly be opportune or cheery. Second, at that point, we will be almost near extinction if rising global temperatures destroy our most productive agricultural regions. As the dinosaurs demonstrate, speed is very important to evolutionary survival, and intelligence or stupidity has little to do with it.
• If this is all true, and we’re running out of food and resources (”The Earth is Full” is the title of the column), then there is no point in even reversing it, because the damage is so extensive at this point, it is irreversible. The human population rate is not going to decrease any time soon.
• Our ideal of a comfortable lifestyle is far too pervasive. It’s absurd to even try to challenge it. Americans are not going to drive golf carts any time soon.
— While natural resources are not the problem of the 21st Century, untapped human resources are the central question to the global economy. There will be free trade across the globe, the what about the tens of millions hungry or unemployed? Many claim that the world could not afford to sustain an American standard of living for the entire human population.
Not everyone needs a flat screen TV, but what about a job and education? A steady paycheck for a daily meal? Skills for a global economy? The poor are always grinded in global mills, but what about the middle-class children who get a liberal arts degree? As they see national GDP and per capita income levels rise, where will be the opportunities for them?