Feeds

The US and the impossible green revolution

A dream beached by the economy

Top three mobile application threats

At one point, Friedman devotes a few eye-rolling pages on "outgreening" foes as a global counter-terror and military strategy. And how an army unit in Iraq had implemented this by saving fuel through more efficient air-conditioning. Is the US Army in Iraq green? As compared to an Exxon Valdez oil spill or Saddam Hussein's torching of oil wells in Kuwait in the first war, maybe.

More interesting is the author's discussion of petro-dictators and the relationship between tyranny and the price of oil. When oil is up, so is tyranny, the sheiks and mullahs at leisure to spend on their security forces, doling out enough subsidy to the desert peons who are encouraged to work out their frustrations in terror-indoctrinating wahhabi schools. When the price of oil is down, extremist regimes reliant on it for revenue either fail or are forced to make concessions to representative government.

Inversely, one can engage in reverse application of this to the American condition. Cheap oil made bad government. Expensive oil made for worse. Cynically, one might be led to believe that a half decade long cratering of the US economy and the subsequent potential draw down on the price of oil might actually be a good thing for the purposes of democratization and slowing greenhouse gas generation.

The joys of dictatorship

Friedman also spends a good deal of time discussing China. He's bullish on it, claiming "[I] believe history will show that it was Chinese capitalism which put the last nail into the coffin of the postwar European welfare state."

If China tries to repeat the American model of consumption for an extended period of time, he reasons, it will bury itself in poison and waste. However, China - he thinks - has an advantage not found in the US. Its leaders constitute a central authority capable of imposing immediate regulation. Because China can do this (he cites as an example, a decree in which China's State Council banned the production and sale of ultrathin plastic bags "in order to encourage recycling"), it would be nice if the US could be China for a day, Friedman writes. This doesn't factor in that if one looks to see how effective the Chinese central government actually is at stamping out bad practices, one only has to read the many declarations about how melamine is to be removed from food production, now inevitably followed by stories describing new and unique introductions of the compound into the worldwide supply chain.

In any case, in asking to be China for a day, Friedman makes a tacit admission that it's impossible to get anything forward-looking done on energy in the US. If anything, when Hot, Flat and Crowded went to press, conditions were actually better.

For instance, who's going to pay for the massive electrical infrastructure face-lift on the front end? A few suggestions are made about smart companies carrying this out from the private sector, like the transformers of Silicon Valley. But with the economy crashing, one might now view the United States as entering a period where it's perhaps much like Britain at the end of World War II - exhausted, about to go broke and with stuff jammed up everywhere. By the time it pulls itself together, it will be too late.

Friedman still thinks the US is made of the right stuff to pull off a revolution. While he may be right, he has to believe that. Hot, Flat and Crowded is ultimately about how to get to the future, not about the end. However, many others must now see it differently. ®

George Smith is a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, a defense affairs think tank and public information group. At Dick Destiny, he blogs his way through chemical, biological, and nuclear terror hysteria, often by way of the contents of neighbourhood hardware stores.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.