New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman makes a powerful argument in a new article [registration required] about the stark reality of the challenges faced in mitigating climate change. He sums it up from a visit he made to Doha and Dalian–and finds them barely recognisable boom towns that have swollen dramatically in size over the past few years.
His argument runs along the lines that whatever incremental gains we (Americans, in his piece) make, they’re outdone by the millions of people escaping poverty and trying to emulate our lives–living in houses, driving cars, consuming large amounts of all kinds of things.
To make a real difference, he reckons, we need some kind of transformational technology:
That’s why we’re fooling ourselves. There is no green revolution, or, if there is, the counter-revolution is trumping it at every turn. Without a transformational technological breakthrough in the energy space, all of the incremental gains we’re making will be devoured by the exponential growth of all the new and old “Americans.”
It makes for tough reading, but he makes points worth thinking about.