Tom Friedman’s Mansion Echoes with Cries of ‘Where are My Green Technologies?’


Tom Friedman used to be really smart, so what explains passages like this? Laziness?

“What happens when developing nations with soaring vehicle populations get tens of millions of petroleum-powered cars at the same time as the global economy recovers and there’s no large global oil supply overhang?” asks Felix Kramer, the electric car expert who advocates electrifying the U.S. auto fleet and increasingly powering it with renewable energy sources. What happens, of course, is that the price of oil goes through the roof — unless we develop alternatives. The petro-dictators in Iran, Venezuela and Russia hope we don’t. They would only get richer.

So either the opponents of a serious energy/climate bill with a price on carbon don’t care about our being addicted to oil and dependent on petro-dictators forever or they really believe that we will not be adding 2.5 billion more people who want to live like us, so the price of oil won’t go up very far and, therefore, we shouldn’t raise taxes to stimulate clean, renewable alternatives and energy efficiency.

So we should raise the price of carbon to avert a disastrous increase in the price of carbon?  

I’ve never understood this argument. It seems to be premised on the notion that a tax on fossil fuels would spur clean-energy innovation while an increase in the price of oil based on future supply constraints would not. Is it just about getting a head start? Misery today or misery tomorrow?

The market can be remarkably adept at responding to changes in the supply of commodities (witness the famous Simon-Ehrlich wager) — if government stays out of the way. I’ll take misery tomorrow, with a chance of market mitigation.


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