They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Frances Barwood: What a Country!

I wrote this in February of 1998 and put it on my website (this was more or less before blogs). Putting it here so that I don't lose it.

Frances Barwood is running for Secretary of State, is getting national media attention and the Squaw Peak Parkway is not even built yet. What a country! You may think of Frances "Emma" Barwood as the politician that took heat over the Sumitomo Sitix plant or as the looney Phoenix City Councilperson who wants an investigation into the "cover-up" of alleged UFO sightings over Phoenix. To those of us who have lived here for a while, Frances is just a painful story that never ends.

One of the surest way to get attention and launch a political career in Phoenix is to oppose something. Pick one, a freeway, a ballpark, an amphitheatre, a tax, go negative and the media flocks to your door. In the mid-1980s in northeast Phoenix, the big issue was where to plant the Squaw Peak Parkway north of Shea Boulevard. There was the camp that wanted it to run up 40th Street and the group that wanted it to go where it ended up, on a route that roughly follows 34th Street. Frances, at the time just another private citizen, owned a house that was in a location that would be affected by the decision and she became the leader of whichever camp she adhered to. She became the media darling, or rather the darling of the Paradise Valley Voice. The Voice, which has been mercifully dead for some time now, was the private empire of one Frosty Taylor, a vindictive woman who was anything but a journalist. Frosty would create her own nicknames for politicians she didn't like and them refer to them that way in her alleged news articles. "Terry Goddard, referred to by many as the Prince of the City, called a new conference to discuss..." You get the idea. Anyway, Frosty just loved Frances and made her and her Squaw Peak Parkway opinions well known throughout the news-starved northeast Phoenix community. In those days there was no "Community" section in the Republic and the Paradise Valley Independent would never print anything controversial so as to not upset potential advertisers.

Frosty had Frances' career peaking right around the time the parkway alignment was chosen. With the issue dieing, we were soon treated to insight into all sorts of colorful opinions held by the lady. All things could typically be explained by some sort of kooky conspiracy theory it seemed. Her connection to various right-wing fringe groups became apparent. Still, she needed an issue. When incumbent City Councilman Bill Parks proudly announced that the city was close to a deal with private developers to build a performing arts amphitheatre northeast of the intersection of Tatum Boulevard and the CAP Canal, she had one. Although she was but one of many outspoken critics of the amphitheatre, which was later built on the west side of town as Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion, she was one of the most colorful. Dr. Parks' association with the amphitheatre ended his political career and launched two others. Among the opposition to Dr. Parks' re-election bid was not only Frances, but an unknown real estate salesman named Skip Rimsza. Rimsza won the election, and in a move that confounded most observers, he put Frances in charge of his satellite office at the PV Community Center. I believe that this was the 1989 election.

In a side note of particular irony, the ground upon which the amphitheatre was planned is now occupied by the Sumitomo Sitix plant.

Frances, many believed, mellowed and matured while in Rimsza's employ. When Rimsza's first 2 year term expired, the districts were redrawn and a new district encompassing the extreme north and northeast of the city was up for grabs. Frances, adding the "Emma" (so that no one would think that Frances was a man's name, she explained), announced for the seat. So did several others, including two who would help define the race, Dan Carroll and Keith Morrow. Dan was a young guy, in his 20's, but had been associated with the Democratic party and local politics since he was a teenager. He was extremely ambitious and, like his political hero, Paul Johnson, seemed to have one goal in life: public office. Keith Morrow was old enough to be Dan's grandfather. A retiree, he was an outspoken member of NEVCO, an organization dedicated to the proposition that nothing belongs in their neighborhood. He had been a candidate for Parks' seat two years earlier, had opposed the amphitheatre, the Greenway road alignment, etc.

An issue that I cared strongly about, that was a potentially explosive campaign issue, was the bridged crossings of the CAP Canal at 56th Street and 64th Street. The crossings, not yet built, have been in the City's plans for many years. Morrow and NEVCO, believing that the bridges would bring traffic into their neighborhood, and seeing nothing wrong with having MY neighborhood choked with traffic as a result, wanted them removed from the plans. Dan Carroll, a friend and political ally of mine, approached me about helping him with his campaign. I was the chairman of the Paradise Valley Village Planning Committee at the time and had twice run for the legislature so my support had some small value. Before agreeing to help Dan I explained that the bridge issue was a litmus test for me, and he assured me that he supported the bridges. I became a member of his campaign steering committee and when he formally announced his candidacy, I was the guy who introduced him.

The election results were Carroll first, Barwood second, Morrow a distant third and the rest were irrelevant. Carroll failed to win a majority however and a runoff between Dan and Frances was scheduled. A couple of weeks before the runoff, I picked up the paper and read that Morrow had endorsed Carroll, farther down in the article, Morrow mentioned Dan's opposition to the bridges as a factor in his decision. Dan Carroll had traded his position on that issue for the support of Morrow and NEVCO! I was outraged. I first called Dan to make sure that I had it right. I did. I then contacted the Barwood campaign to verify that she was in support of the bridges. She was. I proceeded to write a letter to the Editor of the Arizona Republic, which was printed, explaining how I had been deceived by Dan and throwing my support to Frances. I also supplied a copy of the letter to the Barwood campaign. Dan Carroll lost to Frances Barwood by a handful of votes. I believe that my letter made the difference. I believe that I am responsible for putting Frances Barwood into office. God forgive me.

Barwood, who served two terms on the council, did a reasonably good job, but it was marred by silly distractions. Occasionally she felt obligated to make sure that no one forgot that she was a right wing nut, as in her utterances about the flag exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Her UFO sighting silliness is well known. She was subject to a recall election, which would only have shaved a couple of months off of her last term. She was being recalled, not for her colorful opinions, but for her failure to oppose the Sumitomo Sitix plant. I believe that she did the right thing, by the way. We need places for people to work and contrary to what the opponents tell you, the thing is nowhere near anyone's house. When the recall election came, I voted to keep her. We knew she was a nut when we elected her, she deserves to finish the job. She did nothing wrong with Sumitomo, I figured. Of course, I don't think that Dr. Parks did anything wrong in supporting the amphitheatre and I'd bet that the neighbors would trade Sumitomo for it in a heartbeat.

Now Frances Barwood is running for Secretary of State. It appears that she will face Betsey Bayless in the primary and would face Art Hamilton in the general if she got past the primary. I can't imaging a scenario in which I would vote for her but stranger things have happened. And I will sort of miss her eventually.

Update: Barwood lost in the primary and Betsey Bayless became Secretary of State. I lost track of Dan Carroll until a few weeks ago when I encountered him at Jon Talton's table at the Willo Home Tour (Talton was selling and autographing David Mapstone novels.) Caroll made it clear that he had not forgotten our parting of the ways and suggested that he was thinking of running for City Council down here, apparently living in the area. I joked that maybe I could help, there not being any canal issues in Central Phoenix. I did not see him listed in the papers as having taken out petition packets, however.

Bag it

Dear Mr. Benjamin:

Thank you for your reply to our email and your additional comments regarding the level of service provided by our baggers at your local Safeway store.

We appreciate the time you have taken to provide additional feedback on this issue and we can certainly understand your concern. Please accept our apology for any inconvenience you may have experienced.

Your original and latest comments will be forwarded to the Store Manager for review and consideration. We appreciate your patience in this matter.

If you would like to discuss this further, please reply to this email or call our toll free number at 1-877-723-3929 and reference contact I.D. 11290536. One of our associates will be happy to assist you.We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you soon.

Thank you for shopping at Safeway.


Anthony Gibson
Customer Service Center

7th Avenue and Osborn, Phoenix 85003

Thoughts on bagging:

First we got paper bags, then we were asked "paper or plastic?", then it was "Is plastic OK?", now they don't ask, they just use plastic. In my case I am stuck with plastic anyway because my trunk is too small for paper bags to stand up, but they should still ask.

Items such as gallons of milk, 100ml bottles of Tide, bags of kitty litter, 6 packs of long neck beer bottles, big bags of pre-popped popcorn, don't need bags at all. There may be people who will want these items bagged, but make them ask, don't put the burden on the people who are trying to be environmentally conscious, i.e make wasteful behavior the aberrant behavior.

A bag should never contain just one item

What is so special about wine? A bottle of vinegar or a bottle of San Pelegrino is just as breakable but handled much differently. Typical scenario: I have two bottles of wine and two 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke. They stick the 2 soda bottles in one bag, sometimes two. They stick each wine bottle in a bag then the two wrapped bottles together in another bag. Total count: 4-5 bags, and the wine bottles still clank together. Solution: two bags, each with one soda bottle, one wine bottle.

Double bagging is rarely justified and can be avoided by not congregating heavy items (such as canned goods) in a single bag.

Paul Benjamin

Dear Mr. Benjamin:

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the receipts at your local Safeway store.

We appreciate the time you have taken to provide your feedback on the format of our receipts. We strive to ensure that Safeway standards and services exceed our customer's expectations.

You also expressed your concerns regarding the level of service provided by our baggers at the store with regards to the wastage of bags.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience this may have caused you. Safeway continually strives for the highest quality of customer service and a positive shopping environment.Please provide us with the exact location of the store you are referring to so that we may forward your concerns to the appropriate department and better assist you.

If you would like to discuss this further, please reply to this email or call our toll free number at 1-877-723-3929 and reference contact I.D. 11284709. One of our associates will be happy to assist you.We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you soon.

Thank you for shopping at Safeway.


Nathan George

Customer Service Center

Comments or Questions :

I am appalled to see that I am getting a receipt that is about 10 inches longer than it needs to be because you have chosen to include advertising on the end of the receipt. I shop at Safeway multiple times a week and this wasted paper adds up. Is Safeway not aware of the environmental crisis that we are in? You should also better educate your baggers about not wasting so many bags

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Movie Recommendation

We watched this last night. It is highly recommended. It turns out that Penelope Cruz can act. This is the second Almodóvar movie that I have seen (this first is Time Me Up! Time Me Down!) and both have been great.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Like a couple of Little Leaguers

"I got it. I got it." Apparently the concept is unfamiliar to Diamondbacks Shortstop Stephen Drew and Gold Glove Second Baseman Orlando Hudson as they both try to catch a simple infield fly in front of second base. Neither did, two runs scored and it cost them the game. Giants win 4-2.

Review of Concrete Desert (written for Amazon)

I am a big fan of crime novels by the likes of Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey, Randy Wayne White and Dave Barry. What they have in common is that they all take place in Florida, where crime, corruption and buffoonery are rampant due to an industry called growth and an abundance of people who couldn't quite make it where they came from so they pulled up stakes and moved there. I have lived for the last 28 years in Phoenix, Arizona, which is essentially that same place with a radically different though equally uncomfortable climate. It always amazed me that no one had used it as a setting for a humorous crime novel before. We certainly have our share of nutcakes.

Jon Talton has solved that. His David Mapstone novels, of which Concrete Desert is the first, are written from the point of view of a native Phoenician who knows where all of the bodies are buried. Jon was columnist for the Arizona Republic (sadly his voice will no longer be heard there due to a recent "reorganization"). The local flavor, both from that standpoint of opinion (his depiction of our self-agrandizing sheriff was accurate) and of detail are delightful. The novels are in first person, with historian/sheriff's deputy David Mapstone the narrator. Mapstone lives in a 1924 Monterrey Revival house in Phoenix's Willo Historic District. In real life, that is where Talton lives. I live in Willo too, 5 blocks north of there in a 1941 Minimal Traditional. So when Mapstone walks to the Jack-in-the-Box on McDowell to use the payphone, that is where I get my burgers. Anyway, anybody who know Phoenix and its history will enjoy this book and the ones that follow it.

Unfortunately, the stories themselves are not that great. If they were set in Louisville (and I confess I know nothing about Louisville) I wouldn't have much interest in them. If the reader doesn't know much about our nation's 5th largest city (sorry Philadelphia) then this probably wouldn't be too great a read. Stick with Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard.

Feeling Better

Didn't sleep much at all Wednesday night, had another shivering attack yesterday morning, felt rotten all day and then got close to the shivers again in the early evening. Slept well last night though and am beginning to feel pretty normal. Next time something like this happens I think I will go to the doctor a little sooner.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I won't go into the gory details, and it has nothing to do with other health issues, but I have a nasty infection. I have had some mild chills for about a week and a half. Suddenly at work today I got the shakes so bad I couldn't use the mouse. I went to the doctor and although I had a fever of 102.6, it was apparently no big deal and nothing some antibiotics can't handle. Gonna stay home tomorrow.

Currently Reading

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Read This

April 15, 2007
The Power of Green


One day Iraq, our post-9/11 trauma and the divisiveness of the Bush years will all be behind us — and America will need, and want, to get its groove back. We will need to find a way to reknit America at home, reconnect America abroad and restore America to its natural place in the global order — as the beacon of progress, hope and inspiration. I have an idea how. It’s called “green.”

In the world of ideas, to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. One thing that always struck me about the term “green” was the degree to which, for so many years, it was defined by its opponents — by the people who wanted to disparage it. And they defined it as “liberal,” “tree-hugging,” “sissy,” “girlie-man,” “unpatriotic,” “vaguely French.”

Well, I want to rename “green.” I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.

How do our kids compete in a flatter world? How do they thrive in a warmer world? How do they survive in a more dangerous world? Those are, in a nutshell, the big questions facing America at the dawn of the 21st century. But these problems are so large in scale that they can only be effectively addressed by an America with 50 green states — not an America divided between red and blue states.

Because a new green ideology, properly defined, has the power to mobilize liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, big business and environmentalists around an agenda that can both pull us together and propel us forward. That’s why I say: We don’t just need the first black president. We need the first green president. We don’t just need the first woman president. We need the first environmental president. We don’t just need a president who has been toughened by years as a prisoner of war but a president who is tough enough to level with the American people about the profound economic, geopolitical and climate threats posed by our addiction to oil — and to offer a real plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

After World War II, President Eisenhower responded to the threat of Communism and the “red menace” with massive spending on an interstate highway system to tie America together, in large part so that we could better move weapons in the event of a war with the Soviets. That highway system, though, helped to enshrine America’s car culture (atrophying our railroads) and to lock in suburban sprawl and low-density housing, which all combined to get America addicted to cheap fossil fuels, particularly oil. Many in the world followed our model.

Today, we are paying the accumulated economic, geopolitical and climate prices for that kind of America. I am not proposing that we radically alter our lifestyles. We are who we are — including a car culture. But if we want to continue to be who we are, enjoy the benefits and be able to pass them on to our children, we do need to fuel our future in a cleaner, greener way. Eisenhower rallied us with the red menace. The next president will have to rally us with a green patriotism. Hence my motto: “Green is the new red, white and blue.”

The good news is that after traveling around America this past year, looking at how we use energy and the emerging alternatives, I can report that green really has gone Main Street — thanks to the perfect storm created by 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Internet revolution. The first flattened the twin towers, the second flattened New Orleans and the third flattened the global economic playing field. The convergence of all three has turned many of our previous assumptions about “green” upside down in a very short period of time, making it much more compelling to many more Americans.

But here’s the bad news: While green has hit Main Street — more Americans than ever now identify themselves as greens, or what I call “Geo-Greens” to differentiate their more muscular and strategic green ideology — green has not gone very far down Main Street. It certainly has not gone anywhere near the distance required to preserve our lifestyle. The dirty little secret is that we’re fooling ourselves. We in America talk like we’re already “the greenest generation,” as the business writer Dan Pink once called it. But here’s the really inconvenient truth: We have not even begun to be serious about the costs, the effort and the scale of change that will be required to shift our country, and eventually the world, to a largely emissions-free energy infrastructure over the next 50 years.


A few weeks after American forces invaded Afghanistan, I visited the Pakistani frontier town of Peshawar, a hotbed of Islamic radicalism. On the way, I stopped at the famous Darul Uloom Haqqania, the biggest madrasa, or Islamic school, in Pakistan, with 2,800 live-in students. The Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar attended this madrasa as a younger man. My Pakistani friend and I were allowed to observe a class of young boys who sat on the floor, practicing their rote learning of the Koran from texts perched on wooden holders. The air in the Koran class was so thick and stale it felt as if you could have cut it into blocks. The teacher asked an 8-year-old boy to chant a Koranic verse for us, which he did with the elegance of an experienced muezzin. I asked another student, an Afghan refugee, Rahim Kunduz, age 12, what his reaction was to the Sept. 11 attacks, and he said: “Most likely the attack came from Americans inside America. I am pleased that America has had to face pain, because the rest of the world has tasted its pain.” A framed sign on the wall said this room was “A gift of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Sometime after 9/11 — an unprovoked mass murder perpetrated by 19 men, 15 of whom were Saudis — green went geostrategic, as Americans started to realize we were financing both sides in the war on terrorism. We were financing the U.S. military with our tax dollars; and we were financing a transformation of Islam, in favor of its most intolerant strand, with our gasoline purchases. How stupid is that?

Islam has always been practiced in different forms. Some are more embracing of modernity, reinterpretation of the Koran and tolerance of other faiths, like Sufi Islam or the populist Islam of Egypt, Ottoman Turkey and Indonesia. Some strands, like Salafi Islam — followed by the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia and by Al Qaeda — believe Islam should be returned to an austere form practiced in the time of the Prophet Muhammad, a form hostile to modernity, science, “infidels” and women’s rights. By enriching the Saudi and Iranian treasuries via our gasoline purchases, we are financing the export of the Saudi puritanical brand of Sunni Islam and the Iranian fundamentalist brand of Shiite Islam, tilting the Muslim world in a more intolerant direction. At the Muslim fringe, this creates more recruits for the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Sunni suicide bomb squads of Iraq; at the Muslim center, it creates a much bigger constituency of people who applaud suicide bombers as martyrs.

The Saudi Islamic export drive first went into high gear after extreme fundamentalists challenged the Muslim credentials of the Saudi ruling family by taking over the Grand Mosque of Mecca in 1979 — a year that coincided with the Iranian revolution and a huge rise in oil prices. The attack on the Grand Mosque by these Koran-and-rifle-wielding Islamic militants shook the Saudi ruling family to its core. The al-Sauds responded to this challenge to their religious bona fides by becoming outwardly more religious. They gave their official Wahhabi religious establishment even more power to impose Islam on public life. Awash in cash thanks to the spike in oil prices, the Saudi government and charities also spent hundreds of millions of dollars endowing mosques, youth clubs and Muslim schools all over the world, ensuring that Wahhabi imams, teachers and textbooks would preach Saudi-style Islam. Eventually, notes Lawrence Wright in “The Looming Tower,” his history of Al Qaeda, “Saudi Arabia, which constitutes only 1 percent of the world Muslim population, would support 90 percent of the expenses of the entire faith, overriding other traditions of Islam.”

Saudi mosques and wealthy donors have also funneled cash to the Sunni insurgents in Iraq. The Associated Press reported from Cairo in December: “Several drivers interviewed by the A.P. in Middle East capitals said Saudis have been using religious events, like the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and a smaller pilgrimage, as cover for illicit money transfers. Some money, they said, is carried into Iraq on buses with returning pilgrims. ‘They sent boxes full of dollars and asked me to deliver them to certain addresses in Iraq,’ said one driver. ... ‘I know it is being sent to the resistance, and if I don’t take it with me, they will kill me.’ ”

No wonder more Americans have concluded that conserving oil to put less money in the hands of hostile forces is now a geostrategic imperative. President Bush’s refusal to do anything meaningful after 9/11 to reduce our gasoline usage really amounts to a policy of “No Mullah Left Behind.” James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director, minces no words: “We are funding the rope for the hanging of ourselves.”

No, I don’t want to bankrupt Saudi Arabia or trigger an Islamist revolt there. Its leadership is more moderate and pro-Western than its people. But the way the Saudi ruling family has bought off its religious establishment, in order to stay in power, is not healthy. Cutting the price of oil in half would help change that. In the 1990s, dwindling oil income sparked a Saudi debate about less Koran and more science in Saudi schools, even experimentation with local elections. But the recent oil windfall has stilled all talk of reform.

That is because of what I call the First Law of Petropolitics: The price of oil and the pace of freedom always move in opposite directions in states that are highly dependent on oil exports for their income and have weak institutions or outright authoritarian governments. And this is another reason that green has become geostrategic. Soaring oil prices are poisoning the international system by strengthening antidemocratic regimes around the globe.

Look what’s happened: We thought the fall of the Berlin Wall was going to unleash an unstoppable tide of free markets and free people, and for about a decade it did just that. But those years coincided with oil in the $10-to-$30-a-barrel range. As the price of oil surged into the $30-to-$70 range in the early 2000s, it triggered a countertide — a tide of petroauthoritarianism — manifested in Russia, Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Egypt, Chad, Angola, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. The elected or self-appointed elites running these states have used their oil windfalls to ensconce themselves in power, buy off opponents and counter the fall-of-the-Berlin-Wall tide. If we continue to finance them with our oil purchases, they will reshape the world in their image, around Putin-like values.

You can illustrate the First Law of Petropolitics with a simple graph. On one line chart the price of oil from 1979 to the present; on another line chart the Freedom House or Fraser Institute freedom indexes for Russia, Nigeria, Iran and Venezuela for the same years. When you put these two lines on the same graph you see something striking: the price of oil and the pace of freedom are inversely correlated. As oil prices went down in the early 1990s, competition, transparency, political participation and accountability of those in office all tended to go up in these countries — as measured by free elections held, newspapers opened, reformers elected, economic reform projects started and companies privatized. That’s because their petroauthoritarian regimes had to open themselves to foreign investment and educate and empower their people more in order to earn income. But as oil prices went up around 2000, free speech, free press, fair elections and freedom to form political parties and NGOs all eroded in these countries.

The motto of the American Revolution was “no taxation without representation.” The motto of the petroauthoritarians is “no representation without taxation”: If I don’t have to tax you, because I can get all the money I need from oil wells, I don’t have to listen to you.

It is no accident that when oil prices were low in the 1990s, Iran elected a reformist Parliament and a president who called for a “dialogue of civilizations.” And when oil prices soared to $70 a barrel, Iran’s conservatives pushed out the reformers and ensconced a president who says the Holocaust is a myth. (I promise you, if oil prices drop to $25 a barrel, the Holocaust won’t be a myth anymore.) And it is no accident that the first Arab Gulf state to start running out of oil, Bahrain, is also the first Arab Gulf state to have held a free and fair election in which women could run and vote, the first Arab Gulf state to overhaul its labor laws to make more of its own people employable and the first Arab Gulf state to sign a free-trade agreement with America.

People change when they have to — not when we tell them to — and falling oil prices make them have to. That is why if we are looking for a Plan B for Iraq — a way of pressing for political reform in the Middle East without going to war again — there is no better tool than bringing down the price of oil. When it comes to fostering democracy among petroauthoritarians, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a neocon or a radical lib. If you’re not also a Geo-Green, you won’t succeed.

The notion that conserving energy is a geostrategic imperative has also moved into the Pentagon, for slightly different reasons. Generals are realizing that the more energy they save in the heat of battle, the more power they can project. The Pentagon has been looking to improve its energy efficiency for several years now to save money. But the Iraq war has given birth to a new movement in the U.S. military: the “Green Hawks.”

As Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who has been working with the Pentagon, put it to me: The Iraq war forced the U.S. military to think much more seriously about how to “eat its tail” — to shorten its energy supply lines by becoming more energy efficient. According to Dan Nolan, who oversees energy projects for the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, it started last year when a Marine major general in Anbar Province told the Pentagon he wanted better-insulated, more energy-efficient tents in the Iraqi desert. Why? His air-conditioners were being run off mobile generators, and the generators ran on diesel, and the diesel had to be trucked in, and the insurgents were blowing up the trucks.

“When we began the analysis of his request, it was really about the fact that his soldiers were being attacked on the roads bringing fuel and water,” Nolan said. So eating their tail meant “taking those things that are brought into the unit and trying to generate them on-site.” To that end Nolan’s team is now experimenting with everything from new kinds of tents that need 40 percent less air-conditioning to new kinds of fuel cells that produce water as a byproduct.

Pay attention: When the U.S. Army desegregated, the country really desegregated; when the Army goes green, the country could really go green.

“Energy independence is a national security issue,” Nolan said. “It’s the right business for us to be in. ... We are not trying to change the whole Army. Our job is to focus on that battalion out there and give those commanders the technological innovations they need to deal with today’s mission. But when they start coming home, they are going to bring those things with them.”


The second big reason green has gone Main Street is because global warming has. A decade ago, it was mostly experts who worried that climate change was real, largely brought about by humans and likely to lead to species loss and environmental crises. Now Main Street is starting to worry because people are seeing things they’ve never seen before in their own front yards and reading things they’ve never read before in their papers — like the recent draft report by the United Nations’s 2,000-expert Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which concluded that “changes in climate are now affecting physical and biological systems on every continent.”

I went to Montana in January and Gov. Brian Schweitzer told me: “We don’t get as much snow in the high country as we used to, and the runoff starts sooner in the spring. The river I’ve been fishing over the last 50 years is now warmer in July by five degrees than 50 years ago, and it is hard on our trout population.” I went to Moscow in February, and my friends told me they just celebrated the first Moscow Christmas in their memory with no snow. I stopped in London on the way home, and I didn’t need an overcoat. In 2006, the average temperature in central England was the highest ever recorded since the Central England Temperature (C.E.T.) series began in 1659.

Yes, no one knows exactly what will happen. But ever fewer people want to do nothing. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California summed up the new climate around climate when he said to me recently: “If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say ‘No, he doesn’t, he is fine,’ I will go with the 98. It’s common sense — the same with global warming. We go with the majority, the large majority. ... The key thing now is that since we know this industrial age has created it, let’s get our act together and do everything we can to roll it back.”

But how? Now we arrive at the first big roadblock to green going down Main Street. Most people have no clue — no clue — how huge an industrial project is required to blunt climate change. Here are two people who do: Robert Socolow, an engineering professor, and Stephen Pacala, an ecology professor, who together lead the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton, a consortium designing scalable solutions for the climate issue.

They first argued in a paper published by the journal Science in August 2004 that human beings can emit only so much carbon into the atmosphere before the buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) reaches a level unknown in recent geologic history and the earth’s climate system starts to go “haywire.” The scientific consensus, they note, is that the risk of things going haywire — weather patterns getting violently unstable, glaciers melting, prolonged droughts — grows rapidly as CO2 levels “approach a doubling” of the concentration of CO2 that was in the atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution.

“Think of the climate change issue as a closet, and behind the door are lurking all kinds of monsters — and there’s a long list of them,” Pacala said. “All of our scientific work says the most damaging monsters start to come out from behind that door when you hit the doubling of CO2 levels.” As Bill Collins, who led the development of a model used worldwide for simulating climate change, put it to me: “We’re running an uncontrolled experiment on the only home we have.”

So here is our challenge, according to Pacala: If we basically do nothing, and global CO2 emissions continue to grow at the pace of the last 30 years for the next 50 years, we will pass the doubling level — an atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide of 560 parts per million — around midcentury. To avoid that — and still leave room for developed countries to grow, using less carbon, and for countries like India and China to grow, emitting double or triple their current carbon levels, until they climb out of poverty and are able to become more energy efficient — will require a huge global industrial energy project.

To convey the scale involved, Socolow and Pacala have created a pie chart with 15 different wedges. Some wedges represent carbon-free or carbon-diminishing power-generating technologies; other wedges represent efficiency programs that could conserve large amounts of energy and prevent CO2 emissions. They argue that the world needs to deploy any 7 of these 15 wedges, or sufficient amounts of all 15, to have enough conservation, and enough carbon-free energy, to increase the world economy and still avoid the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. Each wedge, when phased in over 50 years, would avoid the release of 25 billion tons of carbon, for a total of 175 billion tons of carbon avoided between now and 2056.

Here are seven wedges we could chose from: “Replace 1,400 large coal-fired plants with gas-fired plants; increase the fuel economy of two billion cars from 30 to 60 miles per gallon; add twice today’s nuclear output to displace coal; drive two billion cars on ethanol, using one-sixth of the world’s cropland; increase solar power 700-fold to displace coal; cut electricity use in homes, offices and stores by 25 percent; install carbon capture and sequestration capacity at 800 large coal-fired plants.” And the other eight aren’t any easier. They include halting all cutting and burning of forests, since deforestation causes about 20 percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions.

“There has never been a deliberate industrial project in history as big as this,” Pacala said. Through a combination of clean power technology and conservation, “we have to get rid of 175 billion tons of carbon over the next 50 years — and still keep growing. It is possible to accomplish this if we start today. But every year that we delay, the job becomes more difficult — and if we delay a decade or two, avoiding the doubling or more may well become impossible.”


In November, I flew from Shanghai to Beijing on Air China. As we landed in Beijing and taxied to the terminal, the Chinese air hostess came on the P.A. and said: “We’ve just landed in Beijing. The temperature is 8 degrees Celsius, 46 degrees Fahrenheit and the sky is clear.”

I almost burst out laughing. Outside my window the smog was so thick you could not see the end of the terminal building. When I got into Beijing, though, friends told me the air was better than usual. Why? China had been host of a summit meeting of 48 African leaders. Time magazine reported that Beijing officials had “ordered half a million official cars off the roads and said another 400,000 drivers had ‘volunteered’ to refrain from using their vehicles” in order to clean up the air for their African guests. As soon as they left, the cars returned, and Beijing’s air went back to “unhealthy.”

Green has also gone Main Street because the end of Communism, the rise of the personal computer and the diffusion of the Internet have opened the global economic playing field to so many more people, all coming with their own versions of the American dream — a house, a car, a toaster, a microwave and a refrigerator. It is a blessing to see so many people growing out of poverty. But when three billion people move from “low-impact” to “high-impact” lifestyles, Jared Diamond wrote in “Collapse,” it makes it urgent that we find cleaner ways to fuel their dreams. According to Lester Brown, the founder of the Earth Policy Institute, if China keeps growing at 8 percent a year, by 2031 the per-capita income of 1.45 billion Chinese will be the same as America’s in 2004. China currently has only one car for every 100 people, but Brown projects that as it reaches American income levels, if it copies American consumption, it will have three cars for every four people, or 1.1 billion vehicles. The total world fleet today is 800 million vehicles!

That’s why McKinsey Global Institute forecasts that developing countries will generate nearly 80 percent of the growth in world energy demand between now and 2020, with China representing 32 percent and the Middle East 10 percent. So if Red China doesn’t become Green China there is no chance we will keep the climate monsters behind the door. On some days, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, almost 25 percent of the polluting matter in the air above Los Angeles comes from China’s coal-fired power plants and factories, as well as fumes from China’s cars and dust kicked up by droughts and deforestation around Asia.

The good news is that China knows it has to grow green — or it won’t grow at all. On Sept. 8, 2006, a Chinese newspaper reported that China’s E.P.A. and its National Bureau of Statistics had re-examined China’s 2004 G.D.P. number. They concluded that the health problems, environmental degradation and lost workdays from pollution had actually cost China $64 billion, or 3.05 percent of its total economic output for 2004. Some experts believe the real number is closer to 10 percent.

Thus China has a strong motivation to clean up the worst pollutants in its air. Those are the nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and mercury that produce acid rain, smog and haze — much of which come from burning coal. But cleaning up is easier said than done. The Communist Party’s legitimacy and the stability of the whole country depend heavily on Beijing’s ability to provide rising living standards for more and more Chinese.

So, if you’re a Chinese mayor and have to choose between growing jobs and cutting pollution, you will invariably choose jobs: coughing workers are much less politically dangerous than unemployed workers. That’s a key reason why China’s 10th five-year plan, which began in 2000, called for a 10 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide in China’s air — and when that plan concluded in 2005, sulfur dioxide pollution in China had increased by 27 percent.

But if China is having a hard time cleaning up its nitrogen and sulfur oxides — which can be done relatively cheaply by adding scrubbers to the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants — imagine what will happen when it comes to asking China to curb its CO2, of which China is now the world’s second-largest emitter, after America. To build a coal-fired power plant that captures, separates and safely sequesters the CO2 into the ground before it goes up the smokestack requires either an expensive retrofit or a whole new system. That new system would cost about 40 percent more to build and operate — and would produce 20 percent less electricity, according to a recent M.I.T. study, “The Future of Coal.”

China — which is constructing the equivalent of two 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants every week — is not going to pay that now. Remember: CO2 is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas. Yes, it causes global warming — but it doesn’t hurt anyone in China today, and getting rid of it is costly and has no economic payoff. China’s strategy right now is to say that CO2 is the West’s problem. “It must be pointed out that climate change has been caused by the long-term historic emissions of developed countries and their high per-capita emissions,” Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, declared in February. “Developed countries bear an unshirkable responsibility.”

So now we come to the nub of the issue: Green will not go down Main Street America unless it also goes down Main Street China, India and Brazil. And for green to go Main Street in these big developing countries, the prices of clean power alternatives — wind, biofuels, nuclear, solar or coal sequestration — have to fall to the “China price.” The China price is basically the price China pays for coal-fired electricity today because China is not prepared to pay a premium now, and sacrifice growth and stability, just to get rid of the CO2 that comes from burning coal.

“The ‘China price’ is the fundamental benchmark that everyone is looking to satisfy,” said Curtis Carlson, C.E.O. of SRI International, which is developing alternative energy technologies. “Because if the Chinese have to pay 10 percent more for energy, when they have tens of millions of people living under $1,000 a year, it is not going to happen.” Carlson went on to say: “We have an enormous amount of new innovation we must put in place before we can get to a price that China and India will be able to pay. But this is also an opportunity.”


The only way we are going to get innovations that drive energy costs down to the China price — innovations in energy-saving appliances, lights and building materials and in non-CO2-emitting power plants and fuels — is by mobilizing free-market capitalism. The only thing as powerful as Mother Nature is Father Greed. To a degree, the market is already at work on this project — because some venture capitalists and companies understand that clean-tech is going to be the next great global industry. Take Wal-Mart. The world’s biggest retailer woke up several years ago, its C.E.O. Lee Scott told me, and realized that with regard to the environment its customers “had higher expectations for us than we had for ourselves.” So Scott hired a sustainability expert, Jib Ellison, to tutor the company. The first lesson Ellison preached was that going green was a whole new way for Wal-Mart to cut costs and drive its profits. As Scott recalled it, Ellison said to him, “Lee, the thing you have to think of is all this stuff that people don’t want you to put into the environment is waste — and you’re paying for it!”

So Scott initiated a program to work with Wal-Mart’s suppliers to reduce the sizes and materials used for all its packaging by five percent by 2013. The reductions they have made are already paying off in savings to the company. “We created teams to work across the organization,” Scott said. “It was voluntary — then you had the first person who eliminated some packaging, and someone else started showing how we could recycle more plastic, and all of a sudden it’s $1 million a quarter.” Wal-Mart operates 7,000 huge Class 8 trucks that get about 6 miles per gallon. It has told its truck makers that by 2015, it wants to double the efficiency of the fleet. Wal-Mart is the China of companies, so, explained Scott, “if we place one order we can create a market” for energy innovation.

For instance, Wal-Mart has used its shelves to create a huge, low-cost market for compact fluorescent bulbs, which use about a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs to produce the same light and last 10 times as long. “Just by doing what it does best — saving customers money and cutting costs,” said Glenn Prickett of Conservation International, a Wal-Mart adviser, “Wal-Mart can have a revolutionary impact on the market for green technologies. If every one of their 100 million customers in the U.S. bought just one energy-saving compact fluorescent lamp, instead of a traditional incandescent bulb, they could cut CO2 emissions by 45 billion pounds and save more than $3 billion.”

Those savings highlight something that often gets lost: The quickest way to get to the China price for clean power is by becoming more energy efficient. The cheapest, cleanest, nonemitting power plant in the world is the one you don’t build. Helping China adopt some of the breakthrough efficiency programs that California has adopted, for instance — like rewarding electrical utilities for how much energy they get their customers to save rather than to use — could have a huge impact. Some experts estimate that China could cut its need for new power plants in half with aggressive investments in efficiency.

Yet another force driving us to the China price is Chinese entrepreneurs, who understand that while Beijing may not be ready to impose CO2 restraints, developed countries are, so this is going to be a global business — and they want a slice. Let me introduce the man identified last year by Forbes Magazine as the seventh-richest man in China, with a fortune now estimated at $2.2 billion. His name is Shi Zhengrong and he is China’s leading manufacturer of silicon solar panels, which convert sunlight into electricity.

“People at all levels in China have become more aware of this environment issue and alternative energy,” said Shi, whose company, Suntech Power Holdings, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. “Five years ago, when I started the company, people said: ‘Why do we need solar? We have a surplus of coal-powered electricity.’ Now it is different; now people realize that solar has a bright future. But it is still too expensive. ... We have to reduce the cost as quickly as possible — our real competitors are coal and nuclear power.”

Shi does most of his manufacturing in China, but sells roughly 90 percent of his products outside China, because today they are too expensive for his domestic market. But the more he can get the price down, and start to grow his business inside China, the more he can use that to become a dominant global player. Thanks to Suntech’s success, in China “there is a rush of business people entering this sector, even though we still don’t have a market here,” Shi added. “Many government people now say, ‘This is an industry!’ ” And if it takes off, China could do for solar panels what it did for tennis shoes — bring the price down so far that everyone can afford a pair.


All that sounds great — but remember those seven wedges? To reach the necessary scale of emissions-free energy will require big clean coal or nuclear power stations, wind farms and solar farms, all connected to a national transmission grid, not to mention clean fuels for our cars and trucks. And the market alone, as presently constructed in the U.S., will not get us those alternatives at the scale we need — at the China price — fast enough.

Prof. Nate Lewis, Caltech’s noted chemist and energy expert, explained why with an analogy. “Let’s say you invented the first cellphone,” he said. “You could charge people $1,000 for each one because lots of people would be ready to pay lots of money to have a phone they could carry in their pocket.” With those profits, you, the inventor, could pay back your shareholders and plow more into research, so you keep selling better and cheaper cellphones.

But energy is different, Lewis explained: “If I come to you and say, ‘Today your house lights are being powered by dirty coal, but tomorrow, if you pay me $100 more a month, I will power your house lights with solar,’ you are most likely to say: ‘Sorry, Nate, but I don’t really care how my lights go on, I just care that they go on. I won’t pay an extra $100 a month for sun power. A new cellphone improves my life. A different way to power my lights does nothing.’

“So building an emissions-free energy infrastructure is not like sending a man to the moon,” Lewis went on. “With the moon shot, money was no object — and all we had to do was get there. But today, we already have cheap energy from coal, gas and oil. So getting people to pay more to shift to clean fuels is like trying to get funding for NASA to build a spaceship to the moon — when Southwest Airlines already flies there and gives away free peanuts! I already have a cheap ride to the moon, and a ride is a ride. For most people, electricity is electricity, no matter how it is generated.”

If we were running out of coal or oil, the market would steadily push the prices up, which would stimulate innovation in alternatives. Eventually there would be a crossover, and the alternatives would kick in, start to scale and come down in price. But what has happened in energy over the last 35 years is that the oil price goes up, stimulating government subsidies and some investments in alternatives, and then the price goes down, the government loses interest, the subsidies expire and the investors in alternatives get wiped out.

The only way to stimulate the scale of sustained investment in research and development of non-CO2 emitting power at the China price is if the developed countries, who can afford to do so, force their people to pay the full climate, economic and geopolitical costs of using gasoline and dirty coal. Those countries that have signed the Kyoto Protocol are starting to do that. But America is not.

Up to now, said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, we as a society “have been behaving just like Enron the company at the height of its folly.” We rack up stunning profits and G.D.P. numbers every year, and they look great on paper “because we’ve been hiding some of the costs off the books.” If we don’t put a price on the CO2 we’re building up or on our addiction to oil, we’ll never nurture the innovation we need.

Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman of General Electric, has worked for G.E. for 25 years. In that time, he told me, he has seen seven generations of innovation in G.E.’s medical equipment business — in devices like M.R.I.s or CT scans — because health care market incentives drove the innovation. In power, it’s just the opposite. “Today, on the power side,” he said, “we’re still selling the same basic coal-fired power plants we had when I arrived. They’re a little cleaner and more efficient now, but basically the same.”

The one clean power area where G.E. is now into a third generation is wind turbines, “thanks to the European Union,” Immelt said. Countries like Denmark, Spain and Germany imposed standards for wind power on their utilities and offered sustained subsidies, creating a big market for wind-turbine manufacturers in Europe in the 1980s, when America abandoned wind because the price of oil fell. “We grew our wind business in Europe,” Immelt said.

As things stand now in America, Immelt said, “the market does not work in energy.” The multibillion-dollar scale of investment that a company like G.E. is being asked to make in order to develop new clean-power technologies or that a utility is being asked to make in order to build coal sequestration facilities or nuclear plants is not going to happen at scale — unless they know that coal and oil are going to be priced high enough for long enough that new investments will not be undercut in a few years by falling fossil fuel prices. “Carbon has to have a value,” Immelt emphasized. “Today in the U.S. and China it has no value.”

I recently visited the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear plant with Christopher Crane, president of Exelon Nuclear, which owns the facility. He said that if Exelon wanted to start a nuclear plant today, the licensing, design, planning and building requirements are so extensive it would not open until 2015 at the earliest. But even if Exelon got all the approvals, it could not start building “because the cost of capital for a nuclear plant today is prohibitive.”

That’s because the interest rate that any commercial bank would charge on a loan for a nuclear facility would be so high — because of all the risks of lawsuits or cost overruns — that it would be impossible for Exelon to proceed. A standard nuclear plant today costs about $3 billion per unit. The only way to stimulate more nuclear power innovation, Crane said, would be federal loan guarantees that would lower the cost of capital for anyone willing to build a new nuclear plant.

The 2005 energy bill created such loan guarantees, but the details still have not been worked out. “We would need a robust loan guarantee program to jump-start the nuclear industry,” Crane said — an industry that has basically been frozen since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. With cheaper money, added Crane, CO2-free nuclear power could be “very competitive” with CO2-emitting pulverized coal.

Think about the implications. Three Mile Island had two reactors, TMI-2, which shut down because of the 1979 accident, and TMI-1, which is still operating today, providing clean electricity with virtually no CO2 emissions for 800,000 homes. Had the TMI-2 accident not happened, it too would have been providing clean electricity for 800,000 homes for the last 28 years. Instead, that energy came from CO2-emitting coal, which, by the way, still generates 50 percent of America’s electricity.

Similar calculations apply to ethanol production. “We have about 100 scientists working on cellulosic ethanol,” Chad Holliday, the C.E.O. of DuPont, told me. “My guess is that we could double the number and add another 50 to start working on how to commercialize it. It would probably cost us less than $100 million to scale up. But I am not ready to do that. I can guess what it will cost me to make it and what the price will be, but is the market going to be there? What are the regulations going to be? Is the ethanol subsidy going to be reduced? Will we put a tax on oil to keep ethanol competitive? If I know that, it gives me a price target to go after. Without that, I don’t know what the market is and my shareholders don’t know how to value what I am doing. ... You need some certainty on the incentives side and on the market side, because we are talking about multiyear investments, billions of dollars, that will take a long time to take off, and we won’t hit on everything.”

Summing up the problem, Immelt of G.E. said the big energy players are being asked “to take a 15-minute market signal and make a 40-year decision and that just doesn’t work. ... The U.S. government should decide: What do we want to have happen? How much clean coal, how much nuclear and what is the most efficient way to incentivize people to get there?”

He’s dead right. The market alone won’t work. Government’s job is to set high standards, let the market reach them and then raise the standards more. That’s how you get scale innovation at the China price. Government can do this by imposing steadily rising efficiency standards for buildings and appliances and by stipulating that utilities generate a certain amount of electricity from renewables — like wind or solar. Or it can impose steadily rising mileage standards for cars or a steadily tightening cap-and-trade system for the amount of CO2 any factory or power plant can emit. Or it can offer loan guarantees and fast-track licensing for anyone who wants to build a nuclear plant. Or — my preference and the simplest option — it can impose a carbon tax that will stimulate the market to move away from fuels that emit high levels of CO2 and invest in those that don’t. Ideally, it will do all of these things. But whichever options we choose, they will only work if they are transparent, simple and long-term — with zero fudging allowed and with regulatory oversight and stiff financial penalties for violators.

The politician who actually proved just how effective this can be was a guy named George W. Bush, when he was governor of Texas. He pushed for and signed a renewable energy portfolio mandate in 1999. The mandate stipulated that Texas power companies had to produce 2,000 new megawatts of electricity from renewables, mostly wind, by 2009. What happened? A dozen new companies jumped into the Texas market and built wind turbines to meet the mandate, so many that the 2,000-megawatt goal was reached in 2005. So the Texas Legislature has upped the mandate to 5,000 megawatts by 2015, and everyone knows they will beat that too because of how quickly wind in Texas is becoming competitive with coal. Today, thanks to Governor Bush’s market intervention, Texas is the biggest wind state in America.

President Bush, though, is no Governor Bush. (The Dick Cheney effect?) President Bush claims he’s protecting American companies by not imposing tough mileage, conservation or clean power standards, but he’s actually helping them lose the race for the next great global industry. Japan has some of the world’s highest gasoline taxes and stringent energy efficiency standards for vehicles — and it has the world’s most profitable and innovative car company, Toyota. That’s no accident.

The politicians who best understand this are America’s governors, some of whom have started to just ignore Washington, set their own energy standards and reap the benefits for their states. As Schwarzenegger told me, “We have seen in California so many companies that have been created that work just on things that have do with clean environment.” California’s state-imposed efficiency standards have resulted in per-capita energy consumption in California remaining almost flat for the last 30 years, while in the rest of the country it has gone up 50 percent. “There are a lot of industries that are exploding right now because of setting these new standards,” he said.


John Dineen runs G.E. Transportation, which makes locomotives. His factory is in Erie, Pa., and employs 4,500 people. When it comes to the challenges from cheap labor markets, Dineen likes to say, “Our little town has trade surpluses with China and Mexico.”

Now how could that be? China makes locomotives that are 30 percent cheaper than G.E.’s, but it turns out that G.E.’s are the most energy efficient in the world, with the lowest emissions and best mileage per ton pulled — “and they don’t stop on the tracks,” Dineen added. So China is also buying from Erie — and so are Brazil, Mexico and Kazakhstan. What’s the secret? The China price.

“We made it very easy for them,” said Dineen. “By producing engines with lower emissions in the classic sense (NOx [nitrogen oxides]) and lower emissions in the future sense (CO2) and then coupling it with better fuel efficiency and reliability, we lowered the total life-cycle cost.”

The West can’t impose its climate or pollution standards on China, Dineen explained, but when a company like G.E. makes an engine that gets great mileage, cuts pollution and, by the way, emits less CO2, China will be a buyer. “If we were just trying to export lower-emission units, and they did not have the fuel benefits, we would lose,” Dineen said. “But when green is made green — improved fuel economies coupled with emissions reductions — we see very quick adoption rates.”

One reason G.E. Transportation got so efficient was the old U.S. standard it had to meet on NOx pollution, Dineen said. It did that through technological innovation. And as oil prices went up, it leveraged more technology to get better mileage. The result was a cleaner, more efficient, more exportable locomotive. Dineen describes his factory as a “technology campus” because, he explains, “it looks like a 100-year-old industrial site, but inside those 100-year-old buildings are world-class engineers working on the next generation’s technologies.” He also notes that workers in his factory make nearly twice the average in Erie — by selling to China!

The bottom line is this: Clean-tech plays to America’s strength because making things like locomotives lighter and smarter takes a lot of knowledge — not cheap labor. That’s why embedding clean-tech into everything we design and manufacture is a way to revive America as a manufacturing power.

“Whatever you are making, if you can add a green dimension to it — making it more efficient, healthier and more sustainable for future generations — you have a product that can’t just be made cheaper in India or China,” said Andrew Shapiro, founder of GreenOrder, an environmental business-strategy group. “If you just create a green ghetto in your company, you miss it. You have to figure out how to integrate green into the DNA of your whole business.”

Ditto for our country, which is why we need a Green New Deal — one in which government’s role is not funding projects, as in the original New Deal, but seeding basic research, providing loan guarantees where needed and setting standards, taxes and incentives that will spawn 1,000 G.E. Transportations for all kinds of clean power.

Bush won’t lead a Green New Deal, but his successor must if America is going to maintain its leadership and living standard. Unfortunately, today’s presidential hopefuls are largely full of hot air on the climate-energy issue. Not one of them is proposing anything hard, like a carbon or gasoline tax, and if you think we can deal with these huge problems without asking the American people to do anything hard, you’re a fool or a fraud.

Being serious starts with reframing the whole issue — helping Americans understand, as the Carnegie Fellow David Rothkopf puts it, “that we’re not ‘post-Cold War’ anymore — we’re pre-something totally new.” I’d say we’re in the “pre-climate war era.” Unless we create a more carbon-free world, we will not preserve the free world. Intensifying climate change, energy wars and petroauthoritarianism will curtail our life choices and our children’s opportunities every bit as much as Communism once did for half the planet.

Equally important, presidential candidates need to help Americans understand that green is not about cutting back. It’s about creating a new cornucopia of abundance for the next generation by inventing a whole new industry. It’s about getting our best brains out of hedge funds and into innovations that will not only give us the clean-power industrial assets to preserve our American dream but also give us the technologies that billions of others need to realize their own dreams without destroying the planet. It’s about making America safer by breaking our addiction to a fuel that is powering regimes deeply hostile to our values. And, finally, it’s about making America the global environmental leader, instead of laggard, which as Schwarzenegger argues would “create a very powerful side product.” Those who dislike America because of Iraq, he explained, would at least be able to say, “Well, I don’t like them for the war, but I do like them because they show such unbelievable leadership — not just with their blue jeans and hamburgers but with the environment. People will love us for that. That’s not existing right now.”

In sum, as John Hennessy, the president of Stanford, taught me: Confronting this climate-energy issue is the epitome of what John Gardner, the founder of Common Cause, once described as “a series of great opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”

Am I optimistic? I want to be. But I am also old-fashioned. I don’t believe the world will effectively address the climate-energy challenge without America, its president, its government, its industry, its markets and its people all leading the parade. Green has to become part of America’s DNA. We’re getting there. Green has hit Main Street — it’s now more than a hobby — but it’s still less than a new way of life.

Why? Because big transformations — women’s suffrage, for instance — usually happen when a lot of aggrieved people take to the streets, the politicians react and laws get changed. But the climate-energy debate is more muted and slow-moving. Why? Because the people who will be most harmed by the climate-energy crisis haven’t been born yet.

“This issue doesn’t pit haves versus have-nots,” notes the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum, “but the present versus the future — today’s generation versus its kids and unborn grandchildren.” Once the Geo-Green interest group comes of age, especially if it is after another 9/11 or Katrina, Mandelbaum said, “it will be the biggest interest group in history — but by then it could be too late.”

An unusual situation like this calls for the ethic of stewardship. Stewardship is what parents do for their kids: think about the long term, so they can have a better future. It is much easier to get families to do that than whole societies, but that is our challenge. In many ways, our parents rose to such a challenge in World War II — when an entire generation mobilized to preserve our way of life. That is why they were called the Greatest Generation. Our kids will only call us the Greatest Generation if we rise to our challenge and become the Greenest Generation.

Thomas L. Friedman is a columnist for The New York Times specializing in foreign affairs.

Used without permission

Saturday, April 14, 2007


This is an experiment that failed. I posted this from the game. The Diamondbacks were leading 3-2, I wanted to show the scoreboard but it clearly didn't work. They fell behind but ultimately won 5-4. Back in first place. won 5-4. Back in first place.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don Imus

Everybody seems to have an opinion, here is mine. Imus is a comedian, an insult artist, a crabby guy who doesn't have a nice word for anybody besides Kinky Friedman. You tune into his show, if indeed you listen to him, to hear what outrageous crap he is spitting out. He is an equal opportunity insulter, taking on people regardless of race, creed, color, political position or sexual persuasion. I used to listen to him every morning on the radio when I was working in Tucson. He has not been on the radio here much. I vastly preferred him to Howard Stern, to whom he is often compared, primarily because Imus talks mostly about politics and sports, while Howard pretty much sticks to sex. His MSNBC simulcast doesn't do much for me because I really don't want the TV on in the morning. There was a time when I would record his show and watch it later but it really isn't appropriate as a viewing experience. I think that background noise while driving is as good as he gets.

Anyway, my opinion on this is that people need to get a life. Imus has said things that were just as offensive about thousands of people and hundreds of groups over the years. What makes the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team so special? If you don't like him, don't listen to him. I stopped watching recordings of his show because of a recurring character that was supposed to be Brian Wilson. I am a big fan of Brian Wilson and a found this caricature to be offensive to Wilson, the Beach Boys, people recovered from severe psychological problems, people with brain injuries, etc. I didn't call up MSNBC and demand that he be fired. Why does Al Sharpton get to do this? Imus can call the New York Knicks a bunch of pimps on a regular basis. Why is this different? Why does the NBC Nightly News lead with this "controversy" and spend 12 minutes on it? Why is it OK for rap artists to denigrate black women with similar phrases but not OK for Imus? Does that make it ok for Imus to call white women "hos"?

I think this is about the same deal as the Michael Richards thing, blown way out of proportion by people who see it as an easy chance to prove how liberal they can be. I agree with Howard Stern when he criticised Imus' apology and said "He should have said, 'F--k you, it's a joke.'"

Monday, April 09, 2007

Opening Day: Byrnes catches ball, Channel 3 gets games in HD

Eric Byrnes, playing in center this time, makes a dramatic catch to kill a Reds' rally. Doug Davis looked awful but gave up only 2 runs in 6 innings while wasting 100 pitches. The Dbacks got a run in each of the 6th, 7th and 8th innings, giving Brandon Lyon the win and the big tater another save. Orlando Hudson's 2nd home run of the young season was the go-ahead run.

Meanwhile, it will be announced this week that starting 4/25, the remaining 30 home games that are on Channel 3 will be in HD.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter at Encanto Park

We rode our bikes to Encanto Park today, which was crowded with 1000s of people it seemed. We went into the amusement park area which was really cool.

See below the source of the tooting noises we hear all weekend most of the year.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Diamondbacks are in First Place

There, I've said it, probably won't be able to say it again, but while it lasts...

Comments Fixed

It was pointed out to me that it was impossible to enter a comment here. That is now fixed, in case anyone actually reads this drivel and has anything to say about it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Could go either way on this one

Pat Venditte, a junior at Creighton University, is the only ambidextrous pitcher in the NCAA. He uses a custom glove which works on either hand. A reliever, he pitches left-handed to left-handed batters and switches to right-handed for right-handed batters. He pitches more innings than the typical reliever since he has two arms to tire out.

According to the New York Times: "A switch-pitcher facing a switch-hitter could make a fine Abbott and Costello routine. Against Nebraska last year, a switch-hitter came to the plate right-handed, prompting Venditte to switch to his right arm, which caused the batter to move to the left-hand batter’s box, with Venditte switching his arm again. Umpires ultimately restored order, applying the rule (the same as that in the majors) that a pitcher must declare which arm he will use before throwing his first pitch and cannot change before the at-bat ends."

There has never been a switch-pitcher in the modern era of Major League Baseball, although in 1995, Greg Harris of the Montreal Expos did pitch one inning in this fashion, in what was considered a stunt. MLB scouts are reportedly looking at Venditte as a possible late round draft choice.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I'm a major league outfielder. I need to catch the frickin' ball.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Gila Bend Freeway

So everyday I come home to horrid congestion on I-10 as it passes through downtown as the Papago Inner Loop. Any traffic map you ever see at rush hour has that section in red (I made it red on the map there). It is not mentioned by the Detour Dans of the airwaves because it is always like that, it is not news.

A huge contributor to this problem is through traffic on I-10, which is a major route across the southern US, going from Jacksonville to Santa Monica.

The proposal to relieve this congestion is to build the South Mountain Freeway, connecting SR-202, where it hits I-10 at Pecos Road, to I-10 in the West Valley (I drew in a blue line). This would allow through trucks and other folks wanting to avoid downtown a path around the congestion. The problem with this is that it is hugely expensive to build an urban freeway, that it is years away from even beginning construction and that there are many environmental and political issues standing in its way, not the least of which is that the City of Phoenix has allowed people to build homes in what has long been the planned route.

A reasonable alternative, from where I sit, is for the state to build a freeway along the route of SR-85, from I-8 at Gila Bend north to I-10. This route is already heavily used. Anyone travelling from Phoenix to San Diego, Yuma or Puerto Peñasco is familiar with this road. As you travel from Tucson north on I-10, there are signs urging motorists to use I-8 to SR-85 to I-10 as a Phoenix bypass, but it is not used so much by truck traffic due to the lack of a freeway.

Building a 4 lane freeway 35 miles through the desert parallel to an existing roadway has got to be cheaper than the planned South Mountain Freeway and could be done much faster. It would seem to me that this could be done as a short term means of diverting traffic and that the South Mountain Freeway could still be built as growth continues.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I've seen worse days

The Diamondbacks looked a little shaky with Webb giving up a few runs but Eric Byrnes sparked a 3 run come-from-behind rally in the 8th and the bullpen held as the Diamondbacks won on opening day, something that doesn't seem to happen very often.

The notion of The
Ohio State University winning the championship of anything was more than I could handle, so I was pleased to see them lose to Florida tonight in the finals of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The guy answers his email, I am impressed..

Derrick Hall is the President of the Arizona Diamondbacks

From: Hall, Derrick []
Sent: Sunday, April 01, 2007 5:51 PM
To: Paul Benjamin
Subject: RE: High Definition Diamondbacks Games

We heard they've been giving that reply. We are working out the details and hope to have them. Thanks Paul.

Sent by GoodLink (

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Benjamin []
Sent: Sunday, April 01, 2007 05:26 PM US Mountain Standard Time
To: Hall, Derrick
Subject: RE: High Definition Diamondbacks Games

So does that mean that we will be getting the games in HD soon? We were
told by someone from KTVK that it was your choice not to provide the games.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Hall, Derrick []
> Sent: Sunday, April 01, 2007 11:29 AM
> To: Paul Benjamin
> Subject: RE: High Definition Diamondbacks Games
> Yes. It was not our decision. We are naturally going to go
> all HD if the station elects to do so. We would love to
> provide all of our games in high def.
> Sent by GoodLink (
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Benjamin []
> Sent: Sunday, April 01, 2007 11:20 AM US Mountain Standard Time
> To: Hall, Derrick
> Subject: High Definition Diamondbacks Games
> Dear Mr. Hall,
> I have been a Diamondbacks season ticketholder since the
> beginning. I am a
> big supporter of the team and watch nearly every game that I
> don't attend.
> (While the tickets are in my name, I share with a group and
> attend about 20
> home games each year). I was pleased last year to be able to
> watch the home
> games that were on Channel 3 in HD. While I am a Cox
> subscriber, I also
> have over the air capabilities on my plasma TV and, living
> just north of downtown, can pick up the
> signal easily with
> a small indoor antenna. I have been really upset at your
> decision to not
> provide the games to Channel 3 this year in HD. My
> understanding is that
> the issue was the lack of availability of KTVK-HD on Cox. It
> appears now,
> however, that Channel 3 will start doing their news shows in
> HD later this
> month and that Cox, under the new Cox-Belo agreement, will
> start carrying
> the digital channel on Cox 703. Can you tell me if this
> (along with DirecTV
> carrying KTVK-HD as well) will change your decision not have
> the games in HD
> this year? Any insight into this situation would be great.
> Thanks for
> taking the time to read this.
> --
> Paul Benjamin