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Updated 10:00 AM September 8, 2008




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NY Times' Thomas Friedman focuses on new green revolution

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman will be in Michigan to outline an emerging agenda that will make "green power the next great global industry.''
(Photo courtesy Thomas Friedman)

The program featuring Friedman and remarks by President Mary Sue Coleman and Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon begins at 12:20 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center.

Friedman's No. 1 bestseller "The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century" changed the national discussion on the opportunities and challenges of a global economy. His newest book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How it Can Renew America" is the focus of his address, organized by the Washtenaw Economic Club, the Michigan Business Review and Michigan's University Research Corridor (URC), as energy has become one of the top election year issues.

Friedman's talk is part of a daylong focus on Michigan-based innovations forming the seeds of a growing green energy industry, including Michigan Business Review Innovation: The Business of Green 9.17, a day-long event bringing together Michigan's most innovative companies utilizing and supplying alternative energy.

The URC also will make available a new report offering a breakout on Michigan's opportunities for developing green technologies.

Friedman's new book contends America has been overwhelmed with articles about "easy ways to go green" and notes "green" was the single-most trademarked word in 2007 but he complains the overabundance of such articles shows the makings of "a party — not a revolution." The real changes, he contends, will be hard, not easy, and most are yet to come.


• A limited block of 1,000 free tickets (for the Thomas Friedman speech only) are available to MSU, U-M and WSU students, faculty and staff by calling (734) 763-5554 or at the Michigan Union Ticket Office. University ID required (limit two tickets per person)
• Tickets to the general public are $30
• Premium business tickets (including lunch and premium seating) are $120. For more information, contact Ashley Robinson, (734) 302-1726 or Karen Koziel, (734) 302-1719

Despite the increasing need for new green technologies, U.S. venture capital funds invested $5 billion in green revolution investments last year compared to $100 billion invested in IT in 2000, the peak of the boom, Friedman notes.

"Anyone who looks at the growth of middle classes around the world and their rising demands for natural resources, plus the dangers of climate change driven by our addiction to fossil fuels, can see that clean renewable energy — wind, solar, nuclear and stuff we haven't yet invented — is going to be the next great global industry," Friedman wrote in a recent column. "It has to be if we are going to grow in a stable way.

"Therefore, the country that most owns the clean power industry is going to most own the next great technology breakthrough — the E.T. revolution, the energy technology revolution — and create millions of jobs and thousands of new businesses, just like the I.T. revolution did."

Friedman, the Times' foreign affairs columnist who has done his research in many countries around the world, argues that a population explosion, a "flattening world" with China, India and their rising middle class as well as climate change have all converged.

Calling it a "hopeful book," he argues "if America seizes the opportunity to solve these problems it will be a huge engine propelling our economy in the 21st century."

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