NYT's Friedman in 2006: $100 Oil, Ethanol - Now Causing Food Riots Worldwide - 'A Great Thing'

April 11th, 2008 6:11 PM

ABC’s April 11 “World News with Charles Gibson” is showing they finally get it – ethanol production and high energy costs are causing food shortages worldwide.

“[P]rices are rising across Africa, pushed up by the cost of oil and demand for biofuels,” ABC correspondent Jim Sciutto said.

“Those biofuels are in fact a large part of the equation,” ABC correspondent David Muir added. “Many farmers around the world, who once grew wheat and rice, now grow corn and sugar cane instead, to produce ethanol a more lucrative market.”

Flash back to 2006: There was a time when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said he thought the realities of today would be a good thing - because it would cause oil demand to fall and disarm Iran's "oil weapon."

[C]harlie, if they [Iran] cut off oil and oil went to $100 a barrel – that would make my day, because the sooner we go to $100 a barrel, the sooner we’re going to have everyone in America driving a plug-in hybrid car fueled by corn and ethanol,” Friedman said in an interview with then-“Good Morning America” host Charles Gibson on March 9, 2006.And I think that would be a great thing. And that would ultimately free us from having to worry about these people.

The realities: Oil closed at $106 a barrel on April 11, ethanol production is expected to increase 87 percent by 2012, and Iran is still a threat more than ever, claiming to be installing 6,000 new centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant on April 8.

In 2002, Friedman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat,” according to the Pulitzer Web site. But now, his “clarity of vision” isn’t looking quite so good.