Thomas L Friedman : the Earth is full

I have been a huge fan of Thomas L Friedman’s op-ed pieces in the New York Times for years. Here is another one that won’t change my mind about this brilliant journalist and author (See my review of his latest book)

I believe he is one of the best thinkers on our current economic, environmental and energy problems to date. Anyone who is willing to act on these issues should read him.

Indeed, Friedman believes America – and the world as a whole – should start as soon as possible a Green Revolution. I couldn’t agree more.

Without further ado, here are some extracts of his June, 7th, 2011 op-ed :

You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking?

How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?

 “The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.”

“When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”

(…) “In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently.

“The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.” What China’s minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that “the Earth is full.

We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit, given current technologies. The economy is going to have to get smaller in terms of physical impact.”

We will not change systems, though, without a crisis. But don’t worry, we’re getting there.

We’re currently caught in two loops: One is that more population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices; rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more instability.

The article goes on. Please read it in full…

But I think his point is made : What is taking place in London and other cities in the United Kingdom might just well be just the beginning.

The very next years will be determinant : whether we will change our ways and address our problems or really big problems will keep piling up and we will have a really bad time. It took only 14 years to the 20th century to see a world war…

Climate change and other issues can lead to a full scale world war. We have seen it at least twice in the four years of existence of this blog.


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