Thomas L. Friedman’s latest book is a plea for a new Sputnik moment. His breezy tour of America’s energy policy documents a nation that has become dangerously dependent on fossil fuels. The bulging bank accounts of oil exporters like Russia, Iran and Venezuela give them the swagger and ability to cause lots of mischief.
Even more worrisome is all the carbon dioxide that comes from burning fossil fuels, not just oil but also coal and, to a lesser degree, natural gas. Since carbon dioxide pollution accumulates in the atmosphere, humans are recklessly changing the climate. The United States’ record is particularly poor because we are, per capita, among the biggest gulpers of oil and belchers of carbon dioxide. The need for American leadership has never been greater.