Hot, Flat and Crowded is one of the few books ever to authoritatively argue case for greenrevolution in unabashedly simple, factual, case by case with illustrations. I took in nearly 415 pages in three days, and in the end i was challenged, chapter after chapter, yet now very wiser on the subject!
100% On Target
I loved this book for a couple of reasons. First, it is chock full of factual data. Page after page has quotes from studies or statements by informed people showing that we really are in trouble and need to do something about it. Second I agree totally with his proposed solution. The American free market, when properly guided, can do just about anything. Send the right price signal and we'll change the world.
One anecdote I should relate as well. I was recently in Costa Rica [which itself has a great track record on environmental friendliness] talking to Costa Ricans and few people from India. They were relating how more and more they are becoming "Americanized". Big houses, big cars, the kids play video games, they eat more meat, etc. When I talked about how the idea of billions more Americans could be scary for the planet, they said, "Oh, we know that." Then when I asked why they don't come up with a new way of doing things, they said, "We can't. We want so badly to be like you that the consequences be d--ned. If the world is going to change, you Americans are going to have to lead the way..."
Friedman is 100% on target with this book, I wish I could buy a copy for everyone in the country...
Friedman takes a long walk to make a short but critical point
NY Times columnist Tom Friedman has written some of the more important current events books of the last twenty years. This effort is a spin-off of his (so far) magnum opus, "The World is Flat." In that book, Friedman chronicled the dizzying array of changes that technology, demographics, and the fall of communism have unleashed upon the world. The message - the world has entered a new epoch fueled by instant communication and the mammoth human resources that have been unleashed in India, Latin America, and even Africa. A clear must-read, "TWIF" is an Important Book.
So it was no surprise that Friedman has cranked out a follow-up. In "Hot, Flat and Crowded," Friedman takes the same dynamics that he described in "TWIF" and examines their consequences on our polluted, energy-starved world. What will we do when literally hundreds of millions of people who previously consumed little or no energy (because they were so poor and had no infrastructure) enter the middle class work force thanks to the benefits of technology?
One of the problems Friedman posed in "TWIF" is that Americans who do not fight to stay ahead will be surpassed by ambitious folks from India, China, Latin America, etc. In "HFC," Friedman posits that a Green Energy revolution is the answer - the world is going to be crying out for alternative energy resources and products that encourage smart consumption of energy. If America can take the lead in these areas, our leadership role in the world is assured.
But Friedman sees problems everywhere - rightly so. Our government and economy are addicted to fossil fuels, and nobody is stepping up to take the leadership mantle.
So why only three stars? Well, first thing - Friedman has never been much of a stylist. The prose is workmanlike, which is fine for a column but gets tedious after a few hundred pages. And the book starts to resemble a piano player playing one note over and over again. This is not a bloated Tom Clancy novel by any means, but one wishes that Friedman could have tightened things up a bit.
But the book is still an important read - because as Friedman points out, our green revolution is most likely to come from the American people (and its entrepreneurs) rather than the political leadership. In that, he is surely right.
An outstanding overview of the energy challenges we face
OVERVIEW: I'm a libertarian and I expected it to annoy me with its arguments that the government knows best and that the free-market is a failure. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by his balanced approach.
- Extremely well written: lively, flows well, entertaining
- Packed with useful facts and told in a way that is unforgettable
- He nails capitalism's biggest shortcoming: its inability to capture externalities, like pollution. He's absolutely right that we must price those externalities into the cost of dirty energy.
- He's also right that the cap-and-trade system is a wimpy solution which will only happen because the public hates the word "tax."
- He's right that all these problems are not the government's fault, or the politicians, or the big business. It's OUR fault. We the people ask for it. We don't want a carbon tax which triples are dirty energy bill and would make solar/wind more competitive, so politicians don't give put in a carbon tax. We don't want a gas tax that makes gas $10/gallon, so politicians don't give us one. We are the only ones to blame.
- He's unconvincing that we need the government to do basic research because the private sector won't do it. Wrong. The next paragraph he will talk about the amazing basic research going on in Bell Labs (a private company). His main argument is better: send a price signal, by taxing carbon, and then businesses, universities, and guys in the garage will do the basic research necessary to take advantage of the business opportunity. We don't need the government to fund the research directly. Just tax what you want us to use less of (coal/oil/gas) and the market will innovate.
- He sometimes exaggerates the environmental problems we face, as if the human race will disappear. Yes, we'll kill off hundreds/thousands of species and screw things up, but we'll change once it becomes less painful to change than not to change.
Densely packed with information, yet never boring, this book is my favorite book of the year!
Fantastic book, that the U.S. should read, accept and implement!
This is an exceptional book that highlights the flaws of America. The author outlines steps for implementing change to reduce the U.S. addiction to petroleum products, to reform international financial practices and to develop environmental products and services.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year A Washington Post Best Book of the Year A Businessweek Best Business Book of the Year A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America's urgent need for national renewal and explains how a greenrevolutioncan bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America.
Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world?s middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet--one that is "hot, flat, and crowded." In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession. The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy. And it could inspire Americans to something we haven't seen in a long time--nation-building in America--by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge--and the promise--of the future.