For your final assigned reading in Hot, Flat and Crowded, I am combining material from chapters 9 and 16 that focuses on energy. Chapter 9 focuses on the quarter of humanity that does not have regular access to an electricity grid and how that influences their lives. The part of chapter 16 that I have included describes how the US military has become an innovator in energy conservation and green energy production which might have applications for that energy impoverished portion of the world’s population.
Question Set for Ch 9 of Hot, Flat and Crowded: Energy Poverty. P 194-.
1. The 3rd paragraph on p. 194 effectively shows how energy impoverished sub-Saharan Africa is relative to Europe and China. The contrast would be even greater if Friedman had compared electrical power production in the US to Africa. P. 195 demonstrates how energy impoverished other regions of the world are and how energy poverty has not gained the attention of rich countries of the world.
2. Why is there so much energy poverty in the world?
Because so many poor countries can’t secure financing to build energy infrastructure (generating plants, transmission grids…). They can’t secure financing because so many of them have poor records of governance or are plagued by recurring civil war. International lending institutions understandably view these countries as extremely bad risks.
3. How would you support Friedman’s claim that, “Every problem of the developing world is also an energy problem”?
At the village level, energy poverty undermines health, agriculture, education, communications, women’s and girls’ education and development. In the cities, energy poverty cripples manufacturing productivity with blackouts.
4. How is energy poverty going to become worse for the world’s poor in a “Hot World”?
Global climate change models predict that increases in global temperatures will cause more severe and frequent meteorological extremes (floods, droughts…). These extreme events will jeopardize the livelihoods of the poor whose primary resources are basic natural resources (forests, soil, plants, glaciers). For example the drying out of soil will compromise agriculture. The poor will not be able to draw on technologies (electric pumps, refrigerated storage of foods…) that the electrified world takes for granted.
5. How is energy poverty going to become worse for the world’s poor in a “Flat World”?
Remember a “Flat World” is a highly connected world. Those connections depend on large and consistent amounts of electricity. In energy impoverished areas, the lack of electricity excludes people from those connections and that flat world. And so the gap between their standard of living and that of the flat world increases dramatically.
6. Why does Friedman want the poor to be connected to the flat world in a “flat and green” manner?
Friedman is aware that if one quarter of humanity became electrified in the same manner that we were (fossil fuels), climate change and air pollution would become greatly exacerbated. He urges that rich countries develop the green energy technologies that will allow the energy poor to become connected with “clean electrons”, not the fossil fuels upon which our development depended.
7. I strongly agree with Friedman’s point that we currently are missing out on the ingenuity and inventiveness of one quarter of humanity because they are not electrified. If rich countries can connect these people to the electricity grid with clean electrons our human capacity will greatly increase.
8. How is energy poverty going to become worse for the world’s poor in a “Crowded World”?
The “crowded world” is the increasingly urbanized world. Poor countries’ large urban areas, because they are electrified, often provide villagers with the only opportunity for non-agricultural employment. However, rural to urban migration has created unhealthful and inefficient mega-cities in poor countries of the world. The creation of green energy technologies can strengthen village economies by connecting them to the “flat world”. This can reduce rural to urban migration and ease the problems of overcrowding. The green electrification of villages will raise the standard of living, which usually slows population growth by leading people to limit family size.
Question Set for Ch 16 of Hot, Flat and Crowded: Outgreening al-Qaeda (or, Buy One, Get Four Free). P 373-
1. Use the term “green-hawk” and “green solution” to explain what Friedman means by “outgreening al-Qaeda”.
Friedman uses the term “green-hawk” to refer to US military personnel, some of them of quite high military rank, who see that green technology can improve military effectiveness. These green hawks found themselves at a disadvantage because the US military is a “high-energy-consuming conventional army” that is/was fighting well-distributed, low energy forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. A crucial component of the US military was that energy, mostly diesel fuel, had to be transported to far-flung outposts, mostly in trucks, to power air conditioners, computers. These trucks were favored targets of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. The green hawks wanted the military to develop green solutions that reduced their reliance on the trucks.
2. Friedman’s explanation of how Central Command’s energy budget was used in Iraq gives you some idea of why you should think of much of Iraq as equivalent to California’s Death Valley. The summer time high temperatures are astounding. Imagine fighting that war without the diesel generators that provided air conditioning for our troops.
3. What does Friedman mean by “distributed energy” and how would it improve security of soldiers?
Friedman uses the term “distributed energy” to refer to energy producing systems (solar panels, wind turbines) that can be set up at each of the scattered military installations and produce enough energy for each outpost. Should the military create such a system, fuel trucks would not have to be on the road and IEDs would not cause so much damage.
4. Why did diesel fuel cost at least $20 a gallon in Iraq? How did that high price influence military leaders? Use the term “fully burdened cost” in your answer. The Pentagon began a study in 2001 to determine how energy costs were influencing weapons systems and general war-planning. They found that the fully burdened cost of transporting fuel included the actual cost of the fuel, the cost of the vehicles to transport it, the drivers and the vehicles that accompanied the fuel trucks for protection. By taking into account all of the costs and not just the “price at the pump” the military chose to investigate energy conservation strategies and the development of distributed energy.
5. Explain why Friedman characterizes the temporary domed structure an example of “buy one, get four free”.
I think this chapter is especially effective. Too many US citizens dismiss energy conservation and green technology as concerns of left-wing environmentalists. It will be more difficult for those nay-sayers to be dismissive of energy conservation and green technology when they learn of US military’s efforts to become more energy efficient and to develop and incorporate green technology into protecting US citizens and allies.
The domed structures were an experiment to reduce the energy demands created by soldiers’ housing, tents. The military turned to foam insulation applied to the outside of this experimental structure and concrete-lined interior walls. The domed structures were powered by wind turbines and solar panels and a back-up propane generator.
The foam-concrete lined walls and dome design cut energy demand by 40-70%. This reduction in energy demand, and the fully burdened cost of fuel made the green energy technologies practical.
Friedman calls this “one for four” because this one solution (an energy-efficient structure) produced another 4 benefits: saved lives of fuel truck drivers, saved money by reducing fuel use, provided excess wind and solar energy to local population and increased the expectations of returning soldiers that the US will seek solutions to problems that include greater energy efficiency and green technology.