Thomas L. Friedman's phenomenal number-one bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see the world in a new way. In his brilliant, essential new book, Friedman takes a fresh and provocative look at two of the biggest challenges we face today: America's surprising loss of focus and national purpose since 9/11; and the global environmental crisis, which is affecting everything from food to fuel to forests. In this groundbreaking account of where we stand now, he shows us how the solutions to these two big problems are linkedhow we can restore the world and revive America at the same time.
Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world's middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is "hot, flat, and crowded." Already the earth is being affected in ways that threaten to make it dangerously unstable. In just a few years, it will be too late to fix thingsunless the United States steps up now and takes the lead in a worldwide effort to replace our wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a strategy for clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation that Friedman calls Code Green.
This is a great challenge, Friedman explains, but also a great opportunity, and one that America cannot afford to miss. Not only is American leadership the key to the healing of the earth; it is also our best strategy for the renewal of America.
In vivid, entertaining chapters, Friedman makes it clear that the green revolution we need is like no revolution the world has seen. It will be the biggest innovation project in American history; it will be hard, not easy; and it will change everything from what you put into your car to what you see on your electric bill. But the payoff for America will be more than just cleaner air. It will inspire Americans to something we haven't seen in a long timenation-building in Americaby summoning the intelligence, creativity, boldness, and concern for the common good that are our nation's greatest natural resources.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challengeand the promiseof the future.
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About the Author
Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnistthe recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of five bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat.
He was born in Minneapolis in 1953, and grew up in the middle-class Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1975 with a degree in Mediterranean studies, attended St. Antony's College, Oxford, on a Marshall Scholarship, and received an M.Phil. degree in modern Middle East studies from Oxford.
After three years with United Press International, he joined The New York Times, where he has worked ever since as a reporter, correspondent, bureau chief, and columnist. At the Times, he has won three Pulitzer Prizes: in 1983 for international reporting (from Lebanon), in 1988 for international reporting (from Israel), and in 2002 for his columns after the September 11th attacks.
Friedman's first book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, won the National Book Award in 1989. His second book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999), won the Overseas Press Club Award for best book on foreign policy in 2000. In 2002 FSG published a collection of his Pulitzer Prize-winning columns, along with a diary he kept after 9/11, as Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. His fourth book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (2005) became a #1 New York Times bestseller and received the inaugural Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in November 2005. A revised and expanded edition was published in hardcover in 2006 and in 2007. The World Is Flat has sold more than 4 million copies in thirty-seven languages.
In 2008 he brought out Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which was published in a revised edition a year later. His sixth book, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, co-written with Michael Mandelbaum, was published in September 2011.
Thomas L. Friedman lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.
Hometown:Washington, D.C. area
Date of Birth:July 20, 1953
Place of Birth:Minneapolis, Minnesota
Education:B.A. in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University, 1975; M.A. in Modern Middle East Studies, Oxford University, 1978
Read an Excerpt
Where Birds Don’t Fly
"German engineering, Swiss innovation, American nothing."
Advertising slogan used on a billboard in South Africa by Daimler to promote its Smart "forfour" compact car
In June 2004, I was visiting London with my daughter Orly, and one evening we went to see the play Billy Elliot at a theater near Victoria Station. During intermission, I was standing up, stretching my legs in the aisle next to my seat, when a stranger approached and asked me, “Are you Mr. Friedman?” When I nodded yes, he introduced himself: “My name is Emad Tinawi. I am a Syrian-American working for Booz Allen," the consulting firm. Tinawi said that while he disagreed with some of the columns I had written, particularly on the Middle East, there was one column he especially liked and still kept.
“Which one?” I asked with great curiosity.
“The one called ‘Where Birds Don’t Fly,’" he said. For a moment, I was stumped. I remembered writing that headline, but I couldn’t remember the column or the dateline. Then he reminded me: It was about the newpost-9/11U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. For years, the U.S. consulate in Istanbul was headquartered in the Palazzo Corpi, a grand and distinctive old building in the heart of the city’s bustling business district, jammed between the bazaars, the domed mosques, and the jumble of Ottoman and modern architecture. Built in 1882, and bought by the U.S. government twenty-five years later, Palazzo Corpi was bordered on three sides by narrow streets and was thoroughly woven into the fabric of Istanbul life. It was an easy place for Turks to get a visa, to peruse the library, or to engage with an American diplomat.
But as part of the general security upgrade for U.S. embassies and consulates in the post-9/11 world, it was decided to close the consulate at Palazzo Corpi, and in June 2003 a new U.S. consulate was opened in
Istinye, an outlying district about twelve miles away from the center of the city. “The new 22-acre facilitynearly 15 times as big as the old consulatewas built on a solid rock hill,” a Federal Times article reported (April 25, 2005), adding that “State now requires buildings to have protective walls that are at least 100 feet away from embassies and consulates. Those walls and barriers also must protect against explosions and ramming attacks from vehicles, and they must be difficult to climb. Guard booths are placed at the perimeter of facilities, and windows and doors are bulletproof and resist forced entries. The new buildings are also strong enough to resist most earthquakes and bombs.”
They are also strong enough to deter most visitors, friends, and allies. In fact, when I first set eyes on the new consulate in 2005, what struck me most was how much it looked like a maximum-security prisonwithout the charm. All that was missing was a moat filled with alligators and a sign that said in big red letters: “Attention! You are now approaching the U.S. consulate in Istanbul. Any sudden movements and you will be shot without warning. all visitors welcome.”
They could have filmed the Turkish prison movie Midnight Express there.
But here’s a hard truth: Some U.S. diplomats are probably alive today thanks to this fortress. Because on November 20, 2003, as President George W. Bush was in London meeting with then prime minister Tony Blair, and about six months after the new U.S. consulate in Istanbul had been opened, Turkish Muslim terrorists detonated truck bombs at the HSBC bank and the British consulate in Istanbul, killing thirty people, including Britain’s consul general, and wounding at least four hundred others. The bomb-ravaged British mission was just a short walk from the Palazzo Corpi.
One of the terrorists captured after the attack reportedly told Turkish police that his group had wanted to blow up the new U.S. consulate, but when they checked out the facility in Istinye, they found it impregnable. A senior U.S. diplomat in Istanbul told me more of the story: According to Turkish security officials, the terrorist said the new U.S. consulate was so secure, “they don’t let birds fly” there. I never forgot that image: It was so well guarded they don’t even let birds fly there . . . (That point was reinforced on July 9, 2008, when Turkish police outside the consulate killed three terrorists apparently trying to breach its walls.)
Tinawi and I swapped impressions about the corrosive impact such security restrictions were having on foreigners’ perceptions of America and on America’s perceptions of itself. As an Arab-American, he was clearly bothered by this, and he could tell from my column that I was too. Because a place where birds don’t fly is a place where people don’t mix, ideas don’t get sparked, friendships don’t get forged, stereotypes don’t get broken, collaboration doesn’t happen, trust doesn’t get built, and freedom doesn’t ring. That is not the kind of place we want America to be. That is not the kind of place we can afford America to be. An America living in a defensive crouch cannot fully tap the vast rivers of
idealism, innovation, volunteerism, and philanthropy that still flow through our nation. And it cannot play the vital role it has long played for the rest of the worldas a beacon of hope and the country that can always be counted on to lead the world in response to whatever is the most important challenge of the day. We need that Americaand we need to be that America—more than ever today.
This is a book about why.
The core argument is very simple: America has a problem and the world has a problem. America’s problem is that it has lost its way in recent yearspartly because of 9/11 and partly because of the bad habits that we have let build up over the last three decades, bad habits that have weakened our society’s ability and willingness to take on big challenges. The world also has a problem: It is getting hot, flat, and crowded. That is, global warming, the stunning rise of middle classes all over the world, and rapid population growth have converged in a way that could make our planet dangerously unstable. In particular, the convergence of hot, flat, and crowded is tightening energy supplies, intensifying the extinction of plants and animals, deepening energy poverty, strengthening petrodictatorship, and accelerating climate change. How we address these interwoven global trends will determine a lot about the quality of life on earth in the twenty-first century.
I am convinced that the best way for America to solve its big problem the best way for America to get its “groove” back is for us to take the lead in solving the world’s big problem. In a world that is getting hot, flat, and crowded, the task of creating the tools, systems, energy sources, and ethics that will allow the planet to grow in cleaner, more sustainable ways is going to be the biggest challenge of our lifetime. But this challenge is actually an opportunity for America. If we take it on, it will revive America at home, reconnect America abroad, and retool America for tomorrow. America is always at its most powerful and most influential when it is combining innovation and inspiration, wealth-building and dignity-building, the quest for big profits and the tackling of big problems. When we do just one, we are less than the sum of our parts.
When we do both, we are greater than the sum of our partsmuch greater.
But it’s not just an opportunity, either: it’s also a test. It’s a test of whether we are able and willing to lead. Whether you love us or hate us, whether you believe in American power or you don’t, the convergence of hot, flat, and crowded has created a challenge so daunting that it is impossible to imagine a meaningful solution without America really stepping up. “We are either going to be losers or heroesthere’s no room anymore for anything in between,” says Rob Watson, CEO of EcoTech International and one of the best environmental minds in America.
Yes, either we are going to rise to the level of leadership, innovation, and collaboration that is required, or everybody is going to losebig. Just coasting along and doing the same old things is not an option any longer. We need a whole new approach. As they say in Texas: “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”The simple name for the new project I am proposing is “Code Green.” What “red” was to America in the 1950s and 1960sa symbol of the overarching Communist threat, the symbol that was used to mobilize our country to build up its military, its industrial base, its highways, its railroads, ports, and airports, its educational institutions, and its scientific capabilities to lead the world in defense of freedom we need "green” to be for today’s America.
Unfortunately, after 9/11, instead of replacing red with green, President George W. Bush replaced red with “Code Red” and all the other crazy colors of the Department of Homeland Security’s warning system. It’s time to scrap them all and move to Code Green. Of course, I am not calling for a return to anti-Communist witch hunts and McCarthyismjust to the seriousness and determination to build a society that can face the overarching threat of our day. For me, going Code Green means making America the World’s leader in innovating clean power and energy-efficiency systems and inspiring an ethic of conservation toward the natural world, which is increasingly imperiled. We’re going to need both massive breakthroughs in clean power and a deeper respect for the world’s forests, oceans, and biodiversity hot spots if we’re going to thrive in this new age.
The first half of this book is a diagnosis of the unique energy, climate, and biodiversity challenges the world faces. The second half is an argument about how we can meet those challenges. I would be less than truthful, though, if I said I think America, as it operates today, is ready for this mission. We are not. Right now, we don’t have the focus and persistence to take on something really big, where the benefits play out over the long term. But I believe that all that could change with the right leadership local, state, and federalproperly framing how much we have to gain by rising to this moment and how much we have to lose by failing to do so. Americans intuit that we’re on the wrong track and that we need a course correction, and fast. Indeed, when I think of our situation, I am reminded of the movie The Leopard, based on the novel of the same name by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. It is set in nineteenth-century Italy, at a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil. The main character is the Sicilian prince Don Fabrizio of Salina (played by Burt Lancaster). Don Fabrizio understands that he and his family will have to adapt if they want the House of Salina to retain its leadership in a new era, where social forces from below are challenging the traditional power elites. Nevertheless, Prince Salina is bitter and uncompromising“We were the leopards, the lions; those who take our place will be jackals and sheep.”The wisest advice he gets comes from his nephew Tancredi (played by Alain Delon), who marries a wealthy shopkeeper’s daughter from the new moneyed middle class, and along the way cautions his uncle: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”And so it is with America. The era we are entering will be one of enormous social, political, and economic changedriven in large part from above, from the sky, from Mother Nature. If we want things to stay as they arethat is, if we want to maintain our technological, economic, and moral leadership and a habitable planet, rich with flora and fauna, leopards and lions, and human communities that can grow in a sustainable waythings will have to change around here, and fast.
Excerpted from Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L Friedman
Copyright © 2008 by Thomas L. Friedman
Published in September 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Release 2.0 Edition ix
Part I When the Market and Mother Nature Hit the Wall
1 Why Citibank, Iceland's Banks, and the Ice Banks of Antarctica All Melted Down at the Same Time 3
2 Dumb As We Wanna Be 28
3 The Re-Generation 49
Part II Where We Are
4 Today's Date: 1 E.C.E. Today's Weather: Hot, Flat, and Crowded 63
5 Our Carbon Copies (or, Too Many Americans) 85
6 Fill 'Er Up with Dictators 110
7 Global Weirding 146
8 The Age of Noah 180
9 Energy Poverty 194
10 Green Is the New Red, White, and Blue 210
Part III How We Move Forward
11 205 Easy Ways to Save the Earth 249
12 The Energy Internet: When It Meets ET 263
13 The Stone Age Didn't End Because We Ran Out of Stones 288
14 If It Isn't Boring, It Isn't Green 320
15 A Million Noahs, a Million Arks 353
16 Outgreening al-Qaeda (or, Buy One, Get Four Free) 373
Part IV China
17 Can Red China Become Green China? 399
Part V America
18 China for a Day (but Not for Two) 429
19 A Democratic China, or a Banana Republic? 456
Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss chapter one's title, "Where Birds Don't Fly," and the story behind it. How has this bunker mentality affected America's role as an agent for positive change in the global arena?
2. In what ways did Hot, Flat, and Crowded help you understand the history of the energy crisis and high fuel prices, from Carter-era progressivism through the Reagan era and beyond? What aspects of this history surprised you the most?
3. Friedman begins by outlining three trends that capture diverse American attitudes toward energy consumption, climate change, and biodiversity: the "dumb as we wanna be" approach, found even among the political elite; the "subprime nation" mentality of borrowing our way to prosperity; and the optimism of innovators who want to do what's right. Which attitude prevails in your community?
4. Discuss the factors that have shaped the Energy-Climate Era: overcrowding due to population growth and longevity, the flattening of the world due to the rise of personal computers and the Internet, the fall of the Soviet Union, and other developments. How have these factors affected America economically, politically, and otherwise?
5. Chapter two makes the distinction between "fuels from hell" and "fuels from heaven." How is your life fueled by both categories? What would it take to transition completely to "fuels from heaven"?
6. In your community, who has the most obvious case of affluenza? How would these groups fare under Chinese capitalism? Do you agree with Friedman's prediction that Chinese capitalism will signal the death of the European welfare state? What other repercussions will rising affluence within the Chinese middle class be likely to have?
7. Friedman describes his visit to an ultra-green Wal-Mart in McKinney, Texas, and the highly unecological urban sprawl he had to ride through to get there (chapter three). In what way is this a microcosm of America's current approach to Code Green?
8. Friedman's first law of petropolitics states that as the price of oil goes up, the pace of freedom goes down. Why is this so often true? Did this principle apply to prosperity for American oil companies in the early twentieth century? What are the ramifications of Friedman's second law of petropolitics, "You cannot be either an effective foreign policy realist or an effective democracy-promoting idealist without also being an effective energy-saving environmentalist"?
9. In chapter five, Friedman describes the controversy that ensued when meteorologist Heidi Cullen tried to educate her audience about global warming. What is the best way to inform those who tune out such messages, which they believe are tantamount to "politicizing the weather"?
10. What did you discover about the importance of biodiversity by reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded? Why do the efforts of groups such as Conservation International receive less attention than climate-change studies, though Friedman asserts that they are equally crucial?
11. Discuss the proposal in chapter seven that ending "energy poverty" is a key to healing third-world populations, particularly in Africa. What is the best way to balance the need for energy in these regions with the destructive effects of powersupply emissions? What is the best way to overcome the political instability that has stymied the growth of power grids in these locales?
12. At the heart of Friedman's argument is the notion that market demands drive innovation. What would it take to transform America's perception so that the Code Green message is seen as a key to prosperity? How has the image of environmentalism changed during your lifetime?
13. Friedman decries halfhearted attempts at environmental change, comparing them to a party rather than a revolution. At your workplace, in your neighborhood, and within your circle of friends, is it fashionable to go green? Is it taken seriously enough to become a bona fide movement, and then a revolution, where you live?
14. Chapter nine probes the political hurdles that have to be surmounted in order to effect meaningful ecological change. In the book's concluding passages, Friedman even admits to admiring the efficiency with which Chinese autocrats can enact immediate change. What should the role of government be in the face of a looming ecological crisis? How much government control is too much? Could a politician get elected in America by proposing higher fuel taxes and other disincentives for energy consumption?
15. Discuss chapter ten's economic principle that REEFIGDCPEERPC is less than TTCOBCOG (Renewable Energy Ecosystem for Innovating, Generating, and Deploying Clean Power, Energy Efficiency, Resource Productivity, and Conservation is less than the True Cost of Burning Coal, Oil, and Gas). How does this apply to your world? Why has America been slow to believe that REEFIGDCPEERPC is affordable?
16. Are any of the ideas described in Friedman's "futuristic" scenario (such as the Smart Black Box, smart grids, RESUs instead of cars, and energy costs that vary according to time of day) already in the works in your state?
17. Chapter eleven includes a proposal that the alternative-energy movement needs an economic bubble, similar to the one that poured staggering amounts of venture capital into the dot-com industry. In your opinion, why hasn't this happened yet?
18. Friedman describes a number of innovators and persuaders who have made significant inroads in improving conservation efforts, including an Indonesian imam who was persuaded to acknowledge river pollution, New York taxi drivers who now praise hybrid vehicles, and the U.S. military's determination to "outgreen" the enemy. What do these agents of change have in common? What should green revolutionaries learn from these experiences?
19. One of Friedman's conclusions is that "it is much more important to change your leaders than your lightbulbs." How will this play out in upcoming elections at all levels, local, state, and federal? What will the legacy of those elected officials be? How can you help to lead the Code Green revolution?
20. How has the world changed since the publication of Friedman's earlier books? How is the world now experiencing the effects of situations he covered throughout the 1990s? What human impulses (for example, materialism, benevolence) almost form a theme throughout all his books?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The World is Flat opened our eyes to the rise of technologies like high-speed Internet and the knocking down of barriers both literal (the Berlin Wall) and figurative (the opening of China's economy to free trade). As Friedman notes new technologies, political paradigm shifts and, more importantly, innovative individuals at the helms of startups have leveled the playing field in the global economy. Now things are getting worse, and the clock is ticking. Americans have squandered most of the goodwill extended since 9/11, writes Friedman, and in the years of the Bush administration no thought has been given to what 9/12 is supposed to look like. The climate is changing, but the administration has spent most of its tenure denying it and insisting on a particularist view that we deserve to be profligate because we're Americans. Our political blindness and ignorance vis-a-vis other nations now butts up against the world's instability and, Friedman continues, 'the convergence of hot, flat, and crowded is tightening energy supplies, intensifying the extinction of plants and animals, deepening energy poverty, strengthening petrodictatorship, and accelerating climate change.'
64 of 67 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars A Doable Win-Win Plan, September 8, 2008 By Norma Lehmeierhartie (New York, USA) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) In Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America, Thomas Friedman presents an irresistible opportunity for Americans--one that can save the planet and increase our wealth. The world is flat because of globalization--which is good, as ideas and practices can spread effectively. What is not so good is that our world population is exploding and countries like India and China are seeing an increase in wealth, which puts more strain on the world's resources and increases global warming. Friedman begins the book with a discussion of how America has changed post 9/11. He uses the example of the US consulate built in 1882 in Istanbul. The consulate was built in the heart of the city: 'it was an easy place for Turks to get a VISA, to peruse the library or to engage with an American diplomat.' Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the building was closed and a nearly impenetrable consulate was built. This all but stopped visitors from visiting. Although the new building does protect against attacks, it isolates Americans and impacts on how we are viewed and how we see ourselves. Friedman writes that he wrote the book because: 'An American living in a defensive crouch cannot fully tap the vast rivers of idealism, innovation, volunteerism, and philanthropy that still flow through our nation. And it cannot play the vital role it has long played for the rest of the world--as a beacon of hope and the country that we can always be counted on to lead the world in response to whatever is the most important challenge of the day.' That challenge is global warming. He proposes we begin a massive project called 'code green.' Friedman identifies three broad trends in our society: 1. The post 9/11 building of walls around us to protect Americans from foreigners. 2. Since the 1980's, politicians acting 'dumb as we wanna be,' meaning we will get to fixing the roads, global warming and other issues when we get around to it. This includes politicians like Bush 'protecting us' from gas taxes and other unpleasantries to keep our standard of living, or the fact that we are in war and don't have to make any sacrifices (save the soldier's lives.) 3. Nation building at home. This is the one good trend Friedman sees and he writes about the plethora of innovative, imaginative souls who devote their energy to finding green solutions. Friedman considers what is now called the green movement to be more like a green party. He cites several 'green' books that include the words 'easy' or 'lazy' in the titles. The authors write books where: 'everyone is a winner, nobody gets hurt and nobody has to do anything hard.' I have read several of these books and agree--much of the advice is fluff. However, I do see the recent deluge of books and articles on sustainability as changing the consciousness and buying habits of the country. Many people who begin by making 'painless changes' get serious about the environment and one or two of them may be the next inventor of the solar-run car. I also believe that when millions cut down on the use of plastic and other nonrenewable resources, that it does make an environmental difference. The increase in population and wealth and buying power all tax our already limited supply of petroleum, coal and gas--all substances that cause global warming and pollute our planet. Even if you didn't 'believe' in global warming, it is a fact that petroleum--now needed in unprecedented amounts--is rapidly becoming an increasingly difficult product to procure. If you think spending $5.00 a gallon for gas for your car is a hardship, that price will be considered nothing in a few years. Folks, we are running out of time and oil. Friedman gets that Americans can use the diminishing supply in no
Friedman explains how global warming, a fast growing population, and an astonishing expansion of the world's middle classes are creating a planet that is 'hot, flat, and crowded.' The dangers posed by these changes are clear: global warning, energy and natural resources will be scarce, petrodictatorships will flourish, energy poverty, and biodiversity loss, and extinction of animal species. In just a few years--2012--according to Friedman, it will be too late to fix things. The US must step up to the plate and take the lead in a worldwide effort to replace our wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a strategy for clean and efficient energy, at the same time we start a massive plan of conservation that the author calls: 'Plan Green.' Not only it is a great challenge, but also a great opportunity and one America can't afford to miss. Not only is American leadership the key to the healing of the earth it is also our best strategy for the renewal of our country. Hot Flat, and Crowded is a classic book: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenges--and promises--for a better future. My only concern with the book is that it should have been edited for better emphasis. After a while he just kept repeating himself.
Hot, Flat and Crowded is great, just like Friedman's previous book. As in The World Is Flat, he explains a new era--the Energy-Climate era--through an illuminating account of recent events. He shows how 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the flattening of the world by the Internet (which brought 3 billion new consumers onto the world stage) have combined to bring climate and energy issues to Main Street. But they have not gone very far down Main Street the much-touted 'green revolution' has hardly begun. With all that in mind, Friedman sets out the clean-technology breakthroughs we, and the world, will need he shows that the ET (Energy Technology) revolution will be both transformative and disruptive and he explains why America must lead this revolution--with the first Green President and a Green New Deal, spurred by the Greenest Generation. Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman--fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the world we live in today. Highly recommended. People who like business books will also enjoy the other book I read this week: Squawk!: How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results. It's been a big boon to my productivity as a manager already.
Even though I don't believe all of the "facts" in the book and I am sceptical about certain of Friedman's conclusions, the book is very intellectually stimulating and should be required reading for every American! Friedman very competantly explains how the world is becoming Hot (global warming), Flat (economic parity) and Crowded (population explosion). His historical perspectives are very good and help the laymen to understand these core issues. It is difficult for anyone to really know with certainty where we are headed with global climate change. Friedmans climate change conclusions are sobering and very well could be correct. However, Friedman does not give a balanced appraisal of the global warming debate. In a few places he uses emotionally charged arguements to support his conclusions (instead of sound scientific facts)about climate change. Friedman almost completely ignores the views of all climate scientists and considerable scientific information that might in anyway be contrary to his views. Although his global warming conclusions may indeed be correct, Friedman looses some credibility by using (at times) intellectually disingenuous arguements. Friedmans vision of the future, clean energy, etc, etc is appealing. It would be difficult for most readers to argue with his vision. However, the devil is always in the details. I suspect that the United States lacks the political will to implement his plan. I also suspect that the real economic costs to implement Friedman's vision are more than he represents. If his conclusions about climate change are correct, then we may have no choice but to make considerable social and energy changes, whatever the cost. However, if Friedman's climate change conclusions are exaggerated, it might not behove us to ruin our economy to avert a non-existent environmental castastrophe. Climate change and energy are the compelling issues of our generation. Reading Friedman's provocative book is intellectually stimulating and certainly worth the time to read regardless of whether you agree with the conclusions reached by Friedman!
This guys is what one can call a total fake, he lives in an obscene huge mansion, Not green, he is a lobbyist for the GOP and AIPAC, he promoted the war in Iraq, justifies war crimes all over the world, drives a NON green car, and all he does in this book is propaganda things that he does not practice at all!
Matt Taibbi wrote and article, google it talking how this guy has become a converted "green" guy but yet his actions are nowhere to be seen, Besides this his own wife is the owner of thousands of Malls around the globe and the US, super polluting machines! And they destroyed pristine lands in order to build more malls just last year, this guy is using green as a money making machine! shame on him he should eat less as well
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in our environment, where we may be going, what the problems are, and some realistic ways that problems can be addressed. Thomas Friedman uses his extensive experience in the mideast as well as many other countries to discuss how this is a worldwide issue and how this needs to be addressed in a worldwide manner. The only improvement might be that he probably could have made his points quicker, but he set the stage for all points with facts and input from various experts.
Hot, Flat and Crowded can be translated as climate change, globalization, and population growth. This book is a followup to the author's best-selling The World Is Flat, a book about globalization of business. This book examines how globalization can continue in a way that doesn't doom the world due to climate change or population growth. It quickly explains that the problem with population isn't so much that there's too many people. But rather it is that in a flat world everyone aspires to gain access to an American level of consumption. The world simply doesn't have enough consumables to go around for the benefits of a flat world to spread to all of the world's population.One of the good things about Friedman's book is that he doesn't dwell, as say, Gore's movie did, on describing the problem. But rather he spends most of the book describing possible solutions. The overall effect of the book is that of being a cheerleader for the green movement. He sees a day when the whole world will be served by electricity from renewable sources. With low cost energy from renewable sources the whole world can have access to the benefits of a flattened world. His vision for the future world is one that allows humans to live comfortably and at the same time allows the environment and biodiversity found in nature to be protected. The book is long, and with so many words he's almost able to convince the reader that his vision for for the world's future is possible. I never cease to be amazed at Friedman's verbosity. The book is long and filled with numerous quotations from interviews with professors, experts, business leaders and activist from around the world. It reads much like a long newspaper feature article. He inserts his own terms into the narrative, such as "Energy-Climate Era." He keeps in touch with reality and trys to be practical in his suggestions for directions to take with future energy policies. Thus I think it's a book that business leaders can find to be acceptable reading. As least I hope so. After all, this is probably the most important issue of our time.
I think Thomas Friedman has a wonderful way of taking a large, complex system (examples: economics, politics, ecology) and painting a clear, understandable picture. I generally like his perspective. But please, Mr. Friedman, do you have to repeat every point 95 different ways? Your readers are not idiots.
It's no surprise that Hot, Flat and Crowded has generated so much press. Thomas Friedman, who in his 2005 best-seller made a strong case for globalization without even mentioning the environment, has definitely seen the light and added his voice to call for immediate U.S. action on climate change. The book uses his trademark format¿traveling the world, hobnobbing with muckety-mucks and movers and shakers, and jotting down brilliant flashes of insight on whatever cocktail napkin is at hand. Seriously, the author does an excellent job of dissecting the implications of climate change for the U.S. and world economies as well as for biodiversity and the overall health of the biosphere. He tackles tough issues like population control and the material wants of growing economies in the developing world head on. His chapter on petropolitics makes a well-reasoned arguement that the transfer of immense wealth to oil-producing nations has shifted the geopolitical balance and ultimately diminished freedom around the world. His discussion of energy poverty¿the pressing need for sustainable, nonpolluting power in Africa¿highlights dimensions of the problem often overlooked in the mainstream media. All-in-all, the first half of the book does a masterful job of making the climate change problem relevant to Americans outside the environmental movement.The second half of the book is more problematic. Friedman begins his assessment of solutions by belittling the notion that individuals can make lifestyle changes that to help alleviate global warming. Admittedly ten ways to save the earth (and money to boot) won't immediately reverse current climate trends, but I think they are every bit as important as many of the solutions Friedman envisions¿particularly the idea of a smart energy grid with automated appliances in a country that can't even manage the digital TV conversion on an overly generous time line. Friedman contends that the only way to move the economy away from carbon-based fuels is to set a floor on oil and gas prices¿he suggests keeping gas at a minimum of $4.50 a gallon and, for example, when prices fall to $2.00 a gallon using the extra $2.50 a gallon to fund alternative fuels. He also advocates energy efficiency through LEED building standards, plug-in electric hybrid vehicles and the creation of Noah's ark-like biodiversity reserves to stem equatorial deforestation. While all of these solutions are laudable long-term goals, they will take years to achieve and are financially unobtainable for most Americans (and Chinese and Indians). Few have the resources to buy all new appliances, replace their cars with plug-in hybrids and build new LEED-certified homes. I suspect even fewer in the developing world will be willing to leave Beijing or Mumbai and eek out a living by farming on the edge of a bioreserve. It is my hope that Thomas Friedman, having heard the altar call and burst forth evangelizing, will continue to tap the minds of the world's best and brightest and find solutions that allow everyone, not just the ultra-rich and rural poor, to participate in the solution.
The world is in trouble. There's some debate about how much trouble, what time frame we have before the point of no return, and what we ought to do about it. Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded tackles all of these questions with an inspiring and practical vision of America as the world leader in what is shaping up to be the next big thing.Friedman's analysis deals with systems of systems - how massively interconnected systems affect each other and how we can understand and control them. As a system engineer, I really got into that part of the discussion. He makes it pretty clear that solving the energy/climate/ecology problem isn't just about those particular issues. Instead these problems ripple into so many other things. As a small example, the US Army is moving to solar arrays to power forward field posts instead of diesel generators, thus eliminating the cost (in dollars and in human lives) of hauling diesel fuel through dangerous territory. But this "greening" of the Army also has the effect of pushing civilian technology forward and provides the market base for reducing the cost of the technology to reasonable levels. Even if readers are skeptical of ecological and climate change arguments, it's hard to find fault with Friedman's discussions of energy supply and the growth of the middle class. But fortunately, as he points out so well, solving one problem often gives you other solutions for free.Highly recommended, but fair warning - you may find yourself running around the house turning off lights and changing bulbs to compact fluorescents!
Talk about a man on a high horse. Tom Friedman clearly feels passionately about the "green" revolution or party, as he calls it. He makes valid points using interesting data and not-very-well known studies and research. I actually listened to this book on a car trip, and I do not recommend it as a book on CD; the topic is too detailed and requires to much attention for that format.
The author is a journalist and claims extended experience and knowledge. However, his concern about the fate of the world depends largely on his (apparently) unquestioning acceptance of the global-warming-imminent-catastrophe paradigm.
I was disappointed overall, Thomas Friedman is too long-winded. I felt like he made his point, but had to keep driving it home for too many pages. His analogies strike me as weak and often pointless. In one chapter he referred to an effort as the equivalent of 1,000,000 Noahs in order to stress its difficulty. Then repeatedly refered to 'leaking arks'. The analogy had no other significance. His understanding of human nature seems weak, too. He only devotes a few pages to explaining to the green resistance why global warming is real. He seems to trivialize their position without providing any new proof of climate change. He further goes to explain how the new technology to deal with our environemntal problems will be inevitably good for the companies, and how we will eventually pay lumber companies not to cut wood, and how concrete is bad for the environment without ever discussing what we're oging to replace as new building materials. He does have a lot of good information and ideas, though. But it seemed overly difficult to read this book to get to them. And I don't feel he has provided any real insight as to how to address them. But he is avidly pronouncing that we cannot continue business as normal. I don't think he will reach the ears he needs to reach. Only the already-green public is likely to pick up this book.
Thomas Friedman is a futurist who has presented the energy problem so that you can understand the scope of the problem and what can be done about it. Solving our energy crisis will not be done by following "101 easy things you can do to go green." This book is split into two sections. First, the problems that have arisen based on humans' overuse of nature's resources. Second, the proposed solution. The energy crisis will require a large investment in time and money and a sacrifice by those who have money now. However, once the energy revolution takes place it will make all of us more prosperous and the world a better place.In short, I couldn't put the book down and it has inspired me with fresh ideas for my own life.
Friedman connects all the dots again, and once again I'm left feeling hopeless and depressed about the state of our world. This book is enough to make you compulsive about shutting off lights and driving to work--even though he mentions that probably won't help, sigh.
One of the most important books I've read. In terms of understanding the plight of the global poor and oppressed, whether they're in sub-Saharan Africa or women in the Arab world, this is one of the most important books I've read to detailing the specific challenges of their plight in the 21st century.
Mr. Friedman makes some excellent points about the combined effects of climate change, globalization, and population growth. I found his explanation of climate change as "climate wierding" to better explain the problems associated with global warming than Al Gore's sometimes overblown threats. However, this book reads as if it were written on the fly. It would be much better if it were better edited and shorter. I would have given a shorter version all five stars.
Institute a gas tax and stop sending money to petro-dictators. Support American energy innovation and investment. Set policy for the byzantine utility sector. Be like Denmark. Al Gore owes us an apology because he sugar-coated things. Do it for the kids. This is a must-read.
In "Hot, Flat and Crowded," NY Times columnist and author Tom Friedman provides a prescient window into where we are headed globally in the areas of environmental impact of industrialization, technology, and commerce. In the chapter 'Where Bird don't Fly,' Friedman begins with describing the post 9/11 Turkey consulate building which is perched on a hill and is inaccessible because of all the security. He urges that the U.S. needs proactive Global engagement and diplomacy in the coming age if we are to stay competitive.Friedman notes that the environmental legacies of recent presidents has not been that good. We have fallen far behind other developed nations in environmental standards. The auto & oil industries have fought renewable energy and fuel standards; other nations way ahead of U.S. in green energy now.He also points out how we seem to be losing our competitive edge in business. During Cold War, our rivalry with Soviet Union drove competition and innovation. We don't have that now- now multinational corporations drive competition and have largely been able to shape policy to their advantage and profit.The world is increasingly crowded, he asserts, due to worsening overpopulation crisis. By 2053 global population expected to top 9 billion people from 6.7 billion today, and just 2.7 billion in 1953. The population of developing 2/3 world expected to increase from 5.4 billion today to 8 billion by 2053. If basic needs for food, shelter, education, employment not met, increased violence and conflict, even more cases of genocide could arise.The world is increasingly flat, because of amazing advances in global communication, world trade, interactive media- leveled playing field for authors, artists, small businesses, etc through development of the internet.200 million people in developing world were lifted out of poverty in 1980s & 90s- good news. These 200 million and hundreds of millions more consuming more and more like Americans and westerners, depleting resources, using more energy, and accelerating pollution and industrialization faster and faster- bad news.The world is increasingly hot because global warming accelerating at fastest rate since industrial revolution began; CO2 emissions way up. He cites how the IPCC Climate panel warned that if substantive action is not taken by 2012, it may be too late to slow or reverse the effects of global warming on delicate ecosystems, and environment throughout the world (i.e. Amazon river basin & Yangtze).Friedman then looks at what he describes as "petro-dictatorships" and the inevitable ties between oil money and violence and terrorism. He raises the concern of energy poverty- how, with the "flattening" of the world, and raising of standards of living, consumption is raised and an increasing demand for energy.He concludes with a clarion call for innovation, and development of green, smart, renewable energy. He writes:'The future doesn't have to be a Malthusian nightmare, if we innovate, think strategically and make a a rapid switch to renewable energy technology.'The way forward must be to 'avoid the unmanageable, manage the unavoidable.' He raises a call to preserve and restore rapidly depleting ecosystems & biodiversity. He calls for development of an "energy web"- when IT meets ET (energy tech)- importance of developing 'smart grids.'He writes that 'the Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones.' Friedman calls for 'an ecosystem for energy innovation.' He suggests ways to influence free market to support clean energy tech (carbon tax, clean energy credits, cap-and-trade, renewable energy mandate, etc), and rewarding shareholders who encourage green innovation. 'Think big, start small, act now.' He calls for 'a million Noahs ' raising public awareness. Friedman then concludes by urging the U.S. also lead the way in helping China turn "red to green.' This is an excellent, ground-breaking book that is very well articulated and thoroug
I just finished Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded. It's a good book that talks about climate change and a crisis in America. He argues that the world's problem is that it's getting hot, flat and crowded and that convergence is driving a lot of really bad trends. America also faces a crisis. A emotional, phyisical and international crisis. One quote in the book mentions: "It's like jumping off an 80-story building. For 97 stories you feel as if you're flying. That's where the world is now."He then goes on to describe that America should solve it's crisis by getting entrepreneurial about green living and green technology and if America solves its problem, it will move on to solve the world's problems too.It also discusses global warming and oil and their interdependence. There is no pulling punches in this section. Global warming is here due to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and while people dispute some of the implications of this, it is a fact that we're putting more and more carbon into the atmosphere. There's also an interesting section about oil and how the oil rich countries become increasingly more anti-american and anti-democratic as the price of oil increases.It's worth a read. Anyone else read it? If so, what are your thoughts?
I¿ve been reading books on climate change for years. Almost all of them deal with just the science behind climate change and how science can stop or reverse climate change. Thomas Friedman¿s book looks at climate change from an economic point of view.His thesis is that climate change is caused be economics. It¿s not bad enough that the American way of life is the worst in terms of pollution. Even worse is that the citizens of the developing world aspire to an American lifestyle. The effect of that many people all living an American lifestyle would be devastating for our planet.Fortunately, Mr. Friedman¿s thesis goes on to say that economics can save the world that we are currently destroying. His thinking is that the same ingenuity and resourcefulness that were responsible for the rise of America, making it the aspirational lifestyle of the third world, can be channeled into new, green industries that will mitigate the worst effects of climate change.He rightly points out that it will take more than the lists of ¿easy ways to go green¿ that are so popular these days. There is nothing easy about going green to save the planet. It will require a radical rethinking of how we live, work and play.His final argument is that this same need to develop technologies to save our planet will benefit us economically. Whole new industries will arise and new jobs, which are so desperately needed now, will be created. No matter how you look at it, ecologically or economically, we cannot afford not to go green.
Very interesting book but it could easily have been written in under 200 pages. too much repetition repetition repetition. Although I agree with all his points he takes a long time to get to the point. Still worth reading though.
A must read for our new administration. Full of ideas for eliminatiing our dependence on foreign oil.