Just Say No

Today we publish the final essay in our series of the winning essays submitted to Dean of Freshmen, Fred Siegel.  These freshman were selected from over 300 of their peers to attend a dinner with Dean Siegel and author, Thomas Friedman.

Our featured essay of the day is by freshman, Rebekah Yurco.

Friedman’s contention that the world has a problem and is becoming more hot, flat and crowded would be more effective with a more convincing marketing strategy.

I must confess that I come from a conservative family. When I delved into the pages of fresh ideas presented by Friedman I began to debate my parents on the issues presented. I discovered that arguments presented in a manner that could definitively help people currently, with immediate results was something that they could wrap their minds around (as described in the “First Law of Petropolitics” . p. 96). Friedman describes through tangible (and to my parents’ way of thinking) logical graphs that demonstrate what has happened historically when the price of oil increases, human rights decrease. It seems the movement has the greenies onboard. If we want to get the majority of people on board to make a difference nationwide, then we will need to convince the conservatives as well. We may need to speak their language, in a more concrete fashion, to get their attention. If we as Americans want to fight for democracy, albeit human rights, it seems that we might make a palatable and convincing argument to justify the need for a new and renewable energy source so that the price of oil would be forced downward to help human rights. Who can disagree with the validity of that argument? However, when I presented the facts surrounding the CO2 emissions of belching cows to my family, they about doubled over in laughter. The idea that cows belching all over the earth could create more CO2 emissions than a “highway full of hummers” (p. 35) makes the global warming argument appear foolish and therefore less credible in the minds of conservative brethren. What are we supposed to do about belching cows? Kill all of the cows and sacrifice a large food source? All become vegetarians? It seems especially ridiculous since there have been grass-consuming, belching creatures on earth since the Stone Age. That’s where he lost me.

When thinking about this argument, I envision a “Just Say No” campaign of a gas-belching cow. (See above) It seems “udderly” ridiculous (pardon the pun). I think Friedman’s ideas about the price of oil and its inverse relation to human rights is genius. On the other hand, I think he could have left out the section about burping cows. I feel like arguments like that can be damaging to a worthwhile cause like global warming.

On the same contention regarding effective marketing or persuasive arguing, I am not sure why Friedman and other like-minded theorists have to call it a Green “Revolution”. Words like “revolution” conjure up images of a smoky room, the Beatles’ song playing in the background and a man in bellbottoms and tie-dye who hasn’t washed hid hair in months. The word “revolution” stirs up that image all too easily. Why can’t we call it a “movement”? Movements seem to be successful historically. In the book, Friedman even compares the Green Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement, and Women’s Rights Movement. Why can’t the Green Revolution be a “movement” too? If we were to market the Green Revolution as the Green Movement, many might view it in a different light. Movements are moving and meaningful.

If we can work to unite political parties for the Green Movement with some simple yet important changes in marketing strategy, I am confident that the Green Movement could be both successful and memorable in our Nation’s and the World’s history. I really enjoyed reading a book like Friedman’s. I would not have considered reading this otherwise. It really evoked some meaningful family discussions during our family holiday.

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