On Power

On Government-Run Projects

Green is going from boutique to better... from a source of electric power to a source of national power, from an insoluble problem to a great opportunity—economic and geopolitical. Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 213

"What 'red' was to America in the 1950s and 1960s—a symbol of the overarching Communist threat, the symbol that was used to mobilize our country to build up its military, its industrial base, its highways, its railroads, ports, and airports, its educational institutions, and its scientific capabilities to lead the world in defense of freedom—we need 'green' to be for today’s America."  Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 57

"…if we are going to summon the will, focus, and authority to push through a real green revolution, we will need a president who isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to lead it. To win the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had to democratically take authority away from the states and invest it in a federal government that he made bigger and stronger than any America had seen since its founding. He even suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Franklin Roosevelt had to transform a weak, thin federal government into the massive institution it is today in order to overcome the Great Depression and win World War II." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 469

On Citizen Litigation

"Green movements historically have started as grassroots movements in democratic societies. ... Many countries, including China and America, have wonderful environmental laws on the books, but without civil society groups to monitor compliance and bring lawsuits against local governments or companies that try to skirt the rules of violate them outright, those laws will always be vulnerable." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 412

On Personal Responsibility

"Personal commitments alone, though, will not solve scale problems like the one we face around clean energy and climate. Whatever personal commitments you, your kids, or your neighbors make, we as a society must translate them into national and international commitments, by institutionalizing them in laws, regulations, and treaties. That is the only way to achieve scale. And that leads to my other answer: It is much more important to change your leaders than your lightbulbs." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 458

On Free-Market Competition

"There is only one thing bigger than Mother Nature and that is Father Profit, and we have not even begun to enlist him in this struggle." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 291

"In both the natural world and the financial world, [sustainability] means that you think and then behave in a way that literally sustains—sustains the natural world around you, sustains business relationships, sustains personal relationships, sustains your community, sustains your country, sustains the planet, and sustains your relationships with your grandchildren and with generations to come. … Don’t get me wrong: Free markets are about raw and naked competition. There are and always will be winners and losers. Sustainability is not a euphemism for charity work or socialism. It is an essential ingredient for winning." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 53

"We are not going to regulate our way out of the problems of the Energy-Climate Era. We can only innovate our way out, and the only way to do that is to mobilize the most effective and prolific system for transformational innovation and commercialization of new products ever created on the face of the earth—the U.S. marketplace."  Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 291

On Government Initiated Motivation

When markets underprice goods and services by failing to price their externalities… it’s the job of government to step in and shape the market Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 309

If you want to bring about a mass movement toward more energy-efficient cars, windows, buildings, power-generation systems, lighting, and heating, the simplest way is to make sure that the true cost of using any and all hydrocarbon-based fuels is reflected in their price to consumers—the true climate costs, the true environmental costs, and the true geopolitical costs… Price those into every product and the market will do the rest. Well, why doesn’t the market reflect the true cost of the things being sold? … the government has failed to shape the market with honest prices. It is not a ‘market failure.’ Markets don’t price externalities when they don’t have to. It is a leadership failure. Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 302

Bottom line: America needs an energy technology bubble just like the information technology bubble. In order to get that, though, the government needs to make it an absolute no-brainer to invest in renewable energy. Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 307

On Government Regulation

"Knowledgeable eco-stars like Al Gore are critical. They draw attention and passion to an issue. But they make a difference only if they are followed up by 'revolutionary bureaucrats'-- men and women who write emissions and efficiency standards, and who, with a flick of a pen, can change how much electricity fifty million air conditioners consume or how much diesel a thousand locomotives guzzle in one year. That’s revolutionary." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 321

"As far as I am concerned, China’s system of government is inferior to ours in every respect—except one. That is the ability of China’s current generation of leaders—if they want—to cut through all their legacy industries, all the pleading special interests, all the bureaucratic obstacles, all the worries of a voter backlash, and simply order top-down the sweeping changes in prices, regulations, standards, education, and infrastructure that reflect China’s long-term strategic national interests-- changes that would normally take Western democracies years or decades to debate and implement." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 430

On Territory

On Lifestyle

On Hedonism

"Not only will the world’s populations grow from around three billion in 1955 to a projected nine billion by 2050, but—much, much more important—we will go from a world population in which maybe one billion people were living an 'American' lifestyle to a world in which two or three billion people are living an American lifestyle or aspiring to do so. Remember: the metric to watch is not the total number of people on the planet—it’s the total number of 'Americans' on the planet." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 87

On Owner-Occupation

"The more we make tax incentives available for retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient and to encourage the use of solar technologies, the more we strengthen the ability of poor people to stay in their homes and secure their neighborhoods….For a lot of underprivileged people, greening their homes may be the only way to keep them in their homes, as fuel prices continue to soar. Those homeowners are the most stable pillars of any neighborhood." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 394

On Green Consumerism

"'Green' was actually the single most trademarked term in 2007, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. In the green revolution we’re having, everyone’s a winner, nobody has to give up anything, and the adjective that most often modifies 'green revolution' is 'easy.' That’s not a revolution. That’s a party. … But in America, at least, it is mostly a costume party. It’s all about looking green—and everyone’s a winner." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 251

On Tenancy

"Landlords chronically underinvest in energy-efficient designs, building construction, and appliances, because their tenants pay the electric bills. When the tenant pays, the landlord doesn’t care about forward operating costs, so he will minimize all upfront capital expenditures. When the landlord pays, the tenants don’t care about efficiency and will not look to optimize and minimize ongoing energy consumption. And often, people just don’t know that this lightbulb or that dishwasher is better than another in terms of energy efficiency, so they will not make the right choices, even if they are economically incentivized to care. That is why you want the government to step in and guide the marketplace." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 339

On Risk

Background

Thomas L. Friedman got his start in Middle Eastern studies and worked as a correspondent in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon, winning two Pulitzers in the 1980s. He later became a New York Times’ opinion columnist, writing on economics and foreign policy, while publishing books on globalization-- including bestseller The World is Flat. He and his wife Ann, a mall-development heiress, live in an 11,400 square foot house in Bethesda, Maryland. Friedman supported the invasion of Iraq and developed a reputation as a vigorous free-market advocate ahead of his 2008 book Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

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