My man David Roberts has been quite impressed by the recent writings of NYT uber-pundit Thomas Friedman.

Friedman is a crude but effective writer, and I’m glad to see he’s enlisting his thunderous arsenal of platitudes in service of conservation, etc. Undeniably, he makes some good points.

But I fear that the world’s problems are a bit more complex than can be dreamt of in Friedman’s neoliberal philosophy. The hyper-globalized system of trade that he breathlessly champions may itself be too energy intensive to be sustained — even by “green” energy. Why should the global south gear its productive capacity to producing for the northern countries? Why should the U.S. essentially outsource its working class thousands of miles away to China?

I don’t reject global trade. But I think wise public policy minimizes it, not subsidizes it at every level. I’d like to see a national-level pundit who champions local culture, who calls on governments and NGOs to bolster it where it flourishes. Among the many benefits of gearing local economies to produce mainly for themselves would be much less energy-intensivity.

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And by no means would such pronouncements have to be couched in the dour, anti-hedonist terms that tend to characterize enviromentalism. If production were geared to be local, people would generally eat and drink much, much better.

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