Friday, October 2, 2009

Friedman on the "New Sputnik"

Another post not directly related to education, but I think this issue is going to change the world soon, so we better start thinking about it.

Thomas Friedman (author of The World is Flat) recently wrote a column about China's move towards green technologies.

I was struck by a couple of Friedman's points. First, he says "China’s leaders, mostly engineers, wasted little time debating global warming. They know the Tibetan glaciers that feed their major rivers are melting." The contrast with our leaders, who are lawyers and economists, jumps out at me.

Then Friedman adds "But they also know that even if climate change were a hoax, the demand for clean, renewable power is going to soar as we add an estimated 2.5 billion people to the planet by 2050, many of whom will want to live high-energy lifestyles. In that world, E.T. — or energy technology — will be as big as I.T., and China intends to be a big E.T. player."

The bottom line is that countries that want to be important in the world in 2050 had better set up their political, education, and economic systems to produce and support energy efficiency and renewable energies. Countries that do not will be the Third World countries of the mid-21st century.

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