America's Go Green Imperative

Award-winning author and New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist Thomas Friedman spoke earlier today with the National Governors Association. The NGA is led these days by Great Lakes Governors Tim Pawlenty and Ed Rendell, of Minnesota and Pennsylvania respectively, both of whom have staked out energy innovation agendas that rank among the most aggressive in the nation.

In his presentation, Friedman relayed the timely story of talking with Roger Ramalinga, a prominent business leader in India, about the incredible economic opportunity the clean technology revolution now presents to the world. Here are excerpts of Ramalinga's comments, as delivered by Friedman:

"Ultimately the rewards for those companies, countries, and individuals who put themselves at the forefront of the energy technology - the ET - revolution, their rewards will not be incremental. They will be transformational and dramatic. There will be quantum jumps in leap frogging opportunities. So the rewards to the U.S. from making the world green would not be incremental. They would be orders of magnitude higher. And the payback would not be anywhere as long as anyone assumes."

"But if America doesn't seize this opportunity, India, China, and others eventually will. Their solutions will not be the best because they will not be coming at it from the frontier of scientific and technological knowledge. They will be alot better, though, than nothing. They won't do it as well. It won't scale it as quickly. But it will happen. And once they get going the replication process will take place every six months and America will not have a place in it. You will be watching. You will not derive the maximum benefits of having been the architect."

"If you do take the lead, the world will be cueing up at your counter. But to take the lead we can not view this as some new tax like any other. If you view green as a cost it is a failure. If you view it as an ordinary investment it is a failure. If you view it as an extraordinary investment that will bring transformational rewards and dramatic benefits and therefore a huge opportunity you will find success."