Friedman was on Fresh Air the other night, talking about his new book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded." In the book, Friedman challenges the conventional wisdom that the best way to break our dependence on foreign oil is to "Drill, baby, drill!" What we need to do, he says, is break free of oil altogether by developing new, eco-friendly and sustainable energy technologies.
As Friedman notes, the three people grinning at the chants of "Drill, drill, drill!" at the Republican National Convention were the observers from Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. They want us to stay hooked up to the oil company. They make billions off of it. And alot of that money is funneled to terrorism and despotic regimes.
What brought down the Soviet Union? Friedman argues convincingly it was $80 a barrel oil, which caused the Soviets to over-extend themselves, followed by $10 a barrel oil, which ruined their economy. Iran, he says, is a country in a similarly precarious spot. It funnels billions in oil revenue to radical causes. Should oil prices drop again, Iran would be in trouble.
We had a shot at developing alternative energy technologies, but the Reagan Administration cut off subsidies in the 1980s. Now, all the technology we developed has moved to other countries and all we have left is our dependence on oil. Friedman says, if we would use government regulations to shape the economy to make it favorable to green energy, we could create technology that would lead the world.
Friedman says the notion of drilling our way out of our dependence on foreign oil is "crazy." He's angry that the opportunity to get free of foreign oil has been squandered and that we keep digging ourselves in deeper and deeper to the oil economy.
He's right. We should all be angry. Check out the Fresh Air interview.