Tom Friedman from Aspen on Energy and His New Book

Lynne Kiesling

Earlier this month Tom Friedman gave a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival about his new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. I recommend all three of the video outtakes to all of you, regardless of your position on climate change, carbon policy, etc. In particular, the third clip where he discusses smart grid technology and the crucial importance of meaningful price signals and dynamic retail electricity pricing is quite good.

2 thoughts on “Tom Friedman from Aspen on Energy and His New Book

  1. Lynne,

    Thanks for the recommendation. The book should be an interesting read.

    Unfortunately, it appears that Friedman is into “synthesized markets”, or “managed markets”. “Setting a floor” for gasoline prices synthesizes a “market” which can only adjust “UP”. A “carbon tax” manages a “market” away from one class of goods to another class of goods. This raises the question: “When is a market no longer a market?”

    Friedman is very clever in his discussion of CO2 and temperature, stating that they occur together over more than 600,000 years, while not pointing out that, in every case over that period, temperature increased before CO2.

    Apparently, former US vice president Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. did not hear and certainly did not heed Friedman’s admonition regarding a new Manhattan Project. While I have long since given up referring to anything as “impossible”, I am confident that the “Gore Plan” is “wildly implausible”, even with a boost from a floor on oil prices and a substantial carbon tax. I am not convinced that regulatory approvals could be obtained, regulatory challenges overcome, legal challenges resolved and permits issued in 10 years. I am not convinced that the ~$500 billion “dead loss” which would result from the premature decommissioning of ~700 GW of existing, functional fossil-fueled generation represents progress. I am also not convinced that replacing those reliable sources of generation with ~$4 trillion of new, intermittent sources of generation represents progress.

    I would be interested to see the plan for achieving 99.99% grid reliability with a combination of new hydro, additional geothermal, 25% capacity factor solar and 25% capacity factor wind, plus storage using technology which would be deployable in sufficient quantity with 10 years.

    “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”, Antoine de St. Exupery

  2. Lynne: How do I get video on Huffington? Is it invisible until I sign up?
    Perhaps there are explicit links…. And what is this viable geothermal generation stuff outside of hot springs thing?

    Ed- You see gas going down long-term? Ferment/Refine Everywhere may be merely a ways off, but pollution regs were already there on the use costs. Likewise, Friedman is being exact and not misusing the correlation; unless you know a planetary CO2 -cooling- moiety often overlooked?

    Then threre’s our interest in generation sources, model views and scenarios, and sinks; deciding what kind of power node class you belong to, and cracking out rules for tropical v. temperate forestry and policing simultaneously is a game I haveen’t played much. But I guess I should have a toy model around (or 60x more enthusiasm for composting!)

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