Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Biggest Challenges
I know at times I seem like a shill for Tom Friedman at the NY Times. His piece last Sunday expanding on the "Geo-Green" strategy has had me thinking all week. First, it's a nice summary of a number of critical challenges facing the US and the world. Mainly, it throws down the gauntlet to the President, suggesting that he is ignoring (or mishandling) the single biggest challenge on our plate. Is the intersection of energy, environment, and geopolitics really the top problem we face? Bigger than terrorism or Social Security?

Part of me just wants to quibble with Friedman's proposed solutions, which I've tackled in previous blogs. I also wonder if I'm predisposed to agree with his diagnosis because it ties together the three issues I've spent my entire adult life working on. They cover an awful lot of ground, collectively accounting for a pretty large chunk of world affairs, especially when you include their economic consequences.

On balance, I think Mr. Friedman's assessment is right, at least from a long-term perspective. How we resolve the war on terrorism will have an enormous impact on the next decade or two, but how we deal will the inter-related problems of energy supply and demand and climate change--both of which are intimately connected to geopolitics--will affect global civilization for much longer. The underlying question concerns what will follow the Age of Oil (or Hydrocarbon Age, if you prefer.) Addressing this is about designing the pattern of the next century or so, and that has been done pretty haphazardly so far, considering the stakes.

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