The environment isn’t flat

“Thomas Friedman’s vision of developing countries enriched by free trade and globalization could be an environmental disaster.”

Jerald L. Schnoor in Environmental Science and Technology:

…Friedman is such an unrepentant cheerleader for globalization and free markets that he fails to recognize severe constraints on production caused by environmental degradation. In Chapter 2, his irrational exuberance is at its peak:

I think it would be an incredibly positive development for the world. . . . If India and China move in that direction [free market democracies without corruption], the world will not only become flatter than ever but also, I am convinced, more prosperous than ever. Three United States are better than one, and five would be better than three.

Can the environment really assimilate the current consumption patterns of even one U.S., let alone three? Can we raise the living standard for 3 billion more people in developing countries from poverty to the middle class, from an annual income of $3000 to $20,000 per capita, from an annual energy consumption of 30 to 150 gigajoules per person, from an emissions level of 0.5 to 6.0 metric tons of CO2 carbon per person per year? Can our atmosphere assimilate an additional 10 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases every year when we have the equivalent of five more countries with U.S. emission rates?

More here.