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'Flat, Hot, Crowded' Author Sets Tone for Science Meeting

'Flat, Hot, Crowded' Author Sets Tone for Science Meeting

Three groups are gathered in Long Beach for a wide range of information sharing, but they started off with a challenge from Author Thomas Friedman.

Three research groups have gathered for their annual meeting in Long Beach this week, and they've chosen to keynote the event with Pulitzer-prize winning author Thomas Friedman, author of " Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How it Can Renew America."

The three science groups - The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America - got their meeting going in the direction of the event's main theme: "Green Revolution 2.0: Food+Energy and Environmental Security."

HOT, FLAT, CROWDED: While Author Thomas Friedman set up a strong challenge for attendees of the ASA, CSSA and SSSA International Annual Meeting, he offered the crowd a dose of optimism too.

From Friedman's perspective American has lost its groove. And to show what that means he kicked off his talk with the slide of a Daimler-built car sold in South Africa that feature "German Engineering, Swiss Manufacturing and American Nothing." Tough words at a time when many are questioning where the country is headed for the future. But Friedman sees opportunity ahead as we change from an IT - or information technology - based innovator to an ET or Environment or Energy Technology-based innovator.

He laid out the challenges ahead noting that there's a correlation between the market and nature and in 2008 they both hit the wall. Acknowledging the climate change deniers, he takes an interesting perspective on the idea. "I call it the Cheney perspective," Friedman says. "Vice President Dick Cheney talked about Iraq and said that if there was even the smallest chance that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction we needed to act decisively to stop them. That's exactly the way I feel about the climate. If there's a one percent chance that greenhouse gases could cause a problem, we need to act decisively."

As he laid out the other challenges - petrodictatorships, global climate change, loss of biodiversity, and energy poverty - he came to a single conclusion. All of these problems can be solved by the same solution: an abundant, cheap, clean, reliable source of electrons. And he says the best country to lead this revolution is the United States.

On that tone, to a room filled with more than 2,000 scientists, Friedman kicked off the 2010 conference. The event runs through Wednesday in Long Beach, Calif.

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