In his 10/10/10 column despairing the failure of the "system" to produce a climate bill, and also in many other columns,Thomas Friedman tells us that he travels around a lot. It is his appeal to authority: I travel, therefore I know. Indeed he does travel a lot, jetting all over the country and the world, appearing on Oprah and giving speeches to promote his brand, gathering information for his columns and books. As such, Friedman consumes energy at an amazing rate. I mean, this guy really sucks down the BTUs.

How many BTUs does Friedman suck? Well, it's impossible to say, as we don't know exactly how much flying he does, how much driving etc. Safe to say: a $#!*load. Consider, David Mackay, in his book Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air, estimates that the energy cost, per passenger, of a single trans-continental flight is roughly equivalent to the amount of energy it takes to light 30 or so lightbulbs non-stop for a year (about 30 Kwh/day, according to Mackay). To put it another way, One Person, on One Flight, sucks about as much energy as a person driving their Corolla 20-25 miles every day for a year. A 25,000-mile-per-year flyer' would easily use as many BTUs in a year of flying as they would driving about 50 miles every day in a typical car. There's no telling how many megajoules a champion air traveler like Friedman would burn, just in flying back and forth across the globe taking the pulse of the people. And then, of course, when he gets on the ground he's not exactly riding a bike. I envision a lot of black Lincoln Town Cars. If you can find someone who sucks more BTUs and spews more CO2s than Friedman, and is somehow less qualified to pontificate about America's epic failure in the realm of climate and environment, let me know.

To make up for such mind-boggling BTU-sucking, Tom's message would have to be mighty powerful on the other side. But what message is Friedman really sending? That one dude can consume as much energy and spew as much pollution as the continent of Africa, as long as that consumption is accompanied by a tremendous thoughtfulness? That extreme BTU-hogging consumers don't have to make big changes, only little ones? That the American Congress, of all things, can save the day, instead of letting corporations write more legislation that actually makes things worse for climate and environment? Credulous Friedman heaps fantasy on top of simple-minded fantasy.

It is no exaggeration to say the entity that is Thomas L. Friedman depends entirely on cheap petroleum.

I hope he has a good retirement plan.

 

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