Wednesday, March 29, 2006

When we got hit with 9/11, it was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to summon the nation to sacrifice, to address some of its pressing fiscal, energy, science, and education shortfalls -- all the things that we had let slide. But our president did not summon us to sacrifice. He summoned us to go shopping.

from The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
Imagine if after 9/11 there was a call for the United States to become energy efficient in 10 years. Not unlike the challenge to put a man on the moon by JFK, the call would come with a massive investment in the technology and the education system to make such a pursuit possible. It would have been a call that those concerned with world security and those distressed by world climate change could both get behind. And, perhaps most importantly, it would be an action of defiant optimism.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I have a dream speech' is famous because it put forward an inspiring, positive vision that carried a critique of the current moment within it. Imagine how history would have turned out had King given an 'I have a nightmare' speech instead.
That's from "The Death of Environmentalism" [pdf/html], an essay by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, two of the founders of the Apollo Alliance, a "crash program for sustainable energy independence [that aims to] create three million good jobs, free the nation from imported oil, and promote a healthier environment." [eyeteeth]

The conservative thinktank American Enterprise Institute called for the invasion of Iraq years before it happened. These folks got their ducks in a row and were able able to push their readymade agenda when crisis struck. It may be morbid, but I think 'progessive' interests have to be similarly ready for the next disaster that strikes the collective consciousness.

From Friedman's book, I found another quote that seems apt. "As Paul Romer has so perceptively warned, 'A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.'

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