Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America

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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 linked--how 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 things--unless 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 time--nation-building in America--by 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 challenge--and the promise--of the future.

Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria: Author One-to-One

Fareed Zakaria: Your book is about two things, the climate crisis and also about an American crisis. Why do you link the two? Fareed Zakaria

Thomas Friedman: You're absolutely right--it is about two things. The book says, America has a problem and the world has a problem. The world's problem is that it's getting hot, flat and crowded and that convergence--that perfect storm--is driving a lot of negative trends. America's problem is that we've lost our way--we've lost our groove as a country. And the basic argument of the book is that we can solve our problem by taking the lead in solving the world's problem.

Zakaria: Explain what you mean by "hot, flat and crowded."

Friedman: There is a convergence of basically three large forces: one is global warming, which has been going on at a very slow pace since the industrial revolution; the second--what I call the flattening of the world--is a metaphor for the rise of middle-class citizens, from China to India to Brazil to Russia to Eastern Europe, who are beginning to consume like Americans. That's a blessing in so many ways--it's a blessing for global stability and for global growth. But it has enormous resource complications, if all these people--whom you've written about in your book, The Post American World--begin to consume like Americans. And lastly, global population growth simply refers to the steady growth of population in general, but at the same time the growth of more and more people able to live this middle-class lifestyle. Between now and 2020, the world's going to add another billion people. And their resource demands--at every level--are going to be enormous. I tell the story in the book how, if we give each one of the next billion people on the planet just one sixty-watt incandescent light bulb, what it will mean: the answer is that it will require about 20 new 500-megawatt coal-burning power plants. That's so they can each turn on just one light bulb!

Zakaria: In my book I talk about the "rise of the rest" and about the reality of how this rise of new powerful economic nations is completely changing the way the world works. Most everyone's efforts have been devoted to Kyoto-like solutions, with the idea of getting western countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. But I grew to realize that the West was a sideshow. India and China will build hundreds of coal-fire power plants in the next ten years and the combined carbon dioxide emissions of those new plants alone are five times larger than the savings mandated by the Kyoto accords. What do you do with the Indias and Chinas of the world?

Thomas FriedmanFriedman: I think there are two approaches. There has to be more understanding of the basic unfairness they feel. They feel like we sat down, had the hors d'oeuvres, ate the entr¨¦e, pretty much finished off the dessert, invited them for tea and coffee and then said, "Let's split the bill." So I understand the big sense of unfairness--they feel that now that they have a chance to grow and reach with large numbers a whole new standard of living, we're basically telling them, "Your growth, and all the emissions it would add, is threatening the world's climate." At the same time, what I say to them--what I said to young Chinese most recently when I was just in China is this: Every time I come to China, young Chinese say to me, "Mr. Friedman, your country grew dirty for 150 years. Now it's our turn." And I say to them, "Yes, you're absolutely right, it's your turn. Grow as dirty as you want. Take your time. Because I think we probably just need about five years to invent all the new clean power technologies you're going to need as you choke to death, and we're going to come and sell them to you. And we're going to clean your clock in the next great global industry. So please, take your time. If you want to give us a five-year lead in the next great global industry, I will take five. If you want to give us ten, that would be even better. In other words, I know this is unfair, but I am here to tell you that in a world that's hot, flat and crowded, ET--energy technology--is going to be as big an industry as IT--information technology. Maybe even bigger. And who claims that industry--whose country and whose companies dominate that industry--I think is going to enjoy more national security, more economic security, more economic growth, a healthier population, and greater global respect, for that matter, as well. So you can sit back and say, it's not fair that we have to compete in this new industry, that we should get to grow dirty for a while, or you can do what you did in telecommunications, and that is try to leap-frog us. And that's really what I'm saying to them: this is a great economic opportunity. The game is still open. I want my country to win it--I'm not sure it will.

Zakaria: I'm struck by the point you make about energy technology. In my book I'm pretty optimistic about the United States. But the one area where I'm worried is actually ET. We do fantastically in biotech, we're doing fantastically in nanotechnology. But none of these new technologies have the kind of system-wide effect that information technology did. Energy does. If you want to find the next technological revolution you need to find an industry that transforms everything you do. Biotechnology affects one critical aspect of your day-to-day life, health, but not all of it. But energy--the consumption of energy--affects every human activity in the modern world. Now, my fear is that, of all the industries in the future, that's the one where we're not ahead of the pack. Are we going to run second in this race?

Friedman: Well, I want to ask you that, Fareed. Why do you think we haven't led this industry, which itself has huge technological implications? We have all the secret sauce, all the technological prowess, to lead this industry. Why do you think this is the one area--and it's enormous, it's actually going to dwarf all the others--where we haven't been at the real cutting edge?

Continue reading the Q&A between Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
Washington Post Best Book of the Year
Businessweek Best Business Book of the Year
Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year

In this brilliant, essential book, Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America’s need for national renewal, and explains how a green revolution is the only way to secure our children’s future. Global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have not only produced a dangerously unstable planet--one that is "hot, flat, and crowded"--they have also diffused America's ability to compete on the world stage.

These same challenges, though, present the United States with an opportunity to take the lead on a global strategy for clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation, and in the process to renew its own economy. The effort to create a Clean Energy System would be the biggest innovation project in American history, changing everything from what you put into your car to what you see on your electric bill. 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, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge--and the promise--of the future.

Customer Reviews:

  • Mixed
    Thomas Friedman raised the important point that Americans have been shortsighted in our views about energy policy to begin with and that if the U.S. doesn't lead the way in renewable energy someone else will sooner or later--the rest of the world isn't waiting for the U.S. to do so.

    I also agreed with the point that it is ultimately in our interest environmentally and economically to lead the way and that it would be in the interest of business to do so. I found his strategy for getting developing countries involved interesting, as it was a way to convince them to act "greener" in their self-interest.

    Early on Friedman talks about a "green revolution" to prevent the destruction caused by mining, but solar panels and wind turbines have to go somewhere, and I'm not entirely convinced that these would completely spare lands. Another weakness comes in comes in with his discussion of "Green Revolution" and globalization.

    He talks about technology to make cars and infrastructure more efficient and less wasteful, but nothing about air travel. Affordable air travel is an important component today, though it comes at the price of using mass amounts of energy, particularly fossil fuels.

    Also if the Green Revolution went in the manner he describes it would lead to a bubble on par with the internet bubble, due to overly optimistic expectations not much different from the ones Friedman lays out in the book. Finally, while Friedman has thoughtful things to say in this book, there are times when he comes across as an ideologue.

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  • An important book
    The world has always been able to rise up to major environmental problems and solve them. When there was a growing hole in the ozone layer, we banned CFCs. When acid rain was killing our forests and lakes, we eliminated sulphur emissions. Always there were sceptics who did not believe that the problem was real, or who believed that a solution was impossible. And always the sceptics were proven wrong.

    For anyone who learns from the past it is clear that we will solve the challenge of climate change. And if we don't solve the problem ourselves, others will do it for us ... and make us pay through the nose for doing so. That is the choice that faces the United States today: solve the problem, and being paid big money by other countries for doing so, or not solving the problem, and losing the race to the big dividends.

    Friedman's book Hot, Flat and Crowded runs along similar arguments, albeit with a more patriotic flavour. The patriotic flavour makes the book a little hard to digest for non-Americans, but otherwise this is an important book that explains why a "wait and see" attitude to climate change is fundamentally flawed. In a nutshell, the argument goes like this: the world is "hot" (heating up due to global warming), "flat" (with a rapidly growing middle class thanks to the opportunities provided by internet), and "crowded" (with a growing population). While each of these is bad for the environment, the combination of the three is catastrophic for the environment, because they amplify each other. Big challenges offer big opportunities as they require big solutions. Addressing these issues can give America a sense of purpose that is currently lacking (the book was written under Bush' presidency), and can provide huge economic returns as there will be a worldwide demand for made-in-America solutions to global warming.

    Friedman then turns his attention to solutions to drastically reduce our carbon dioxide emissions that already exist, or that are just around the corner. This is the most compelling part of the book. At the core of the solution is what Friedman calls the energy internet: if we can communicate with our electricity provider and vice versa through our power lines, then we can decide to concentrate most of our electricity use at times when the supply exceeds the demand. Add the concept of the plug-in hybrid car, and you have a fleet of electricity storage units that would allow us to drastically expand solar and wind energy without the usual hiccups: produce electricity when it's sunny or windy, store it in our cars, and send it back to the grid when there is a demand for it. Technology like this would enable deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and in our utility bills as well, freeing up money to tackle other aspects of climate change. Solving climate change suddenly becomes feasible, almost straightforward. This book has a positive, optimistic message.

    So the choice is this: either we get rich developing solutions to climate change and selling them, or we bankrupt ourselves buying the technology from others. It's a position that the more visionary among environmental experts have been proclaiming for a couple of years, but this is the most eloquent and widely read account that I have seen so far. A very important book indeed....more info
  • Hot, Flat, and Crowded
    The central argument in this book is that the market does not efficiently allocate investment to cleaner alternative fuels because of externalities associated with use of "dirty" fossil fuels. Externalities, in this context, are costs that are not paid by fuel consumers but rather by society as a whole (pollution) or even by future generations (climate change caused by CO2 emissions). Market participants don't factor these costs into their decisions because they don't have to pay them. This market failure creates an opportunity for the government to increase efficiency by raising the price of carbon-based fuels so that the price paid by consumers reflects their full cost to society. When alternative fuels are more price competitive, R&D will increase, and advances in technology will bring down the cost of alternative fuels. This is an eminently reasonable argument, and Friedman also does a good job of explaining how high oil prices strengthen authoritarian leaders in oil-rich states.

    Much of the rest of his book is not as valuable. Friedman is highly critical of market processes - he sees market failures everywhere - but he seems to lose his critical judgment when he looks at government processes. He wants "revolutionary bureaucrats" to assume a much larger role in shaping investment decisions, but he blithely assumes that regulators are farsighted technocrats rather than self-interested political actors. Elsewhere, Friedman laments the need to obtain the support of citizens for initiatives that they will pay for. An entire chapter is dedicated to a fantasy that a benevolent dictator - whose views are identical to Friedman's - might dramatically increase environmental regulation over fossil fuels while weakening environmental regulation over nuclear power, electricity transmission lines, and the other infrastructure that Friedman needs to achieve his vision for a United States powered by "clean electrons."

    Many of his arguments might also be criticized as poorly supported or unbalanced. Friedman is a popularizer and explainer, and the standard of evidence in a popular book need not be as high as in a book aimed at specialists. Still, his standard does not rise much above "I think that ..." or "someone I interviewed thinks that ...." This might not be such a big problem except that Friedman only interviews people that he agrees with. For example, in advocating that the news media should more actively promote the link between human activity and climate change, he cites the views of former Clinton administration official Jospeh Romm, who thinks that the news media underplay the link because they are overly concerned with their role as "honest brokers" of information. Maybe Romm and Friedman believe this, but I would guess that most people take a more skeptical view of our news media. Elsewhere, Friedman asserts that the "worst" fossil fuel companies "know their products are as harmful to society and the planet as cigarette smoking." This is a surprising statement, and it might even be true, but Friedman does not present any evidence for it. As a final example, Friedman calls Hurricane Katrina a "flashing red light" alerting us to global warming. Maybe Friedman is right, but in the absence of any evidence, readers might well conclude that the link he draws between climate change and this specific storm is speculative.
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  • Tedious, repetitive and read by a person with a grating voice
    I finished the audio book (I can't bring myself to type the title after having had it pounded into my brain over and over with each chapter. I wonder if the author copyrighted the title and somehow earns a royalty each time it's said?) after almost two months. It is just too long and repeats itself so much that I wanted to skip entire sections. If saying something once is good, Friedman seems to feel that saying it seventeen time is better. One example of a problem or a solution? How about thirty two?

    I won't even go into the politics and economics espoused in the book (suffice it to say they don't mesh with mine) but I have to point out that many people distrust environmentalists because they're not sure they (the enviromentalists) are telling the complete truth or are lying to them "for their own good" or because they wouldn't be able to understand the truth, and this book left me with exactly that feeling.

    After forcing myself through The World Is Flat and this book, I believe I will avoid anything further by this writer.

    If you do feel the need to get this book, do not buy the audio version read by Oliver Wyman. His voice is so grating I could not listen for more than 15 - 20 minutes without being exasperated. Something about his intonation made every section sound like it was an introduction or a preface. ...more info
  • We need answers, now!
    The author is late to the stage in addressing that we need an energy revolution. Al Gore got the word out about global warming long before this book was published, and Jimmy Carter argued for us to move away from fossil fuels a generation ago. Carter mandated that we get 20% of our energy from renewables by 2000. It's 2009, the planet is heating up fast, and wind & solar are 1.1% of U.S. electricity, and 0.4% overall energy. We need solutions, and we need them fast.

    In my view, Freidman's answers to our energy problems follow a cyclical reasoning pattern that is flawed. The age of fossil fuels, he believes, will end when we "invent our way out." In order to find the next oil, we need to throw "crazy dollars at every idea, in every garage, that we have 100,000 people trying 100,000 things, five of which might work, and two might be the next green Google." One could alternately argue that the only reason why we have incredible inventions like google is because of cheap energy. Cheap power led to affordable ways of mass-producing semiconducting microchips (which require 630 times their own weight in fossil fuels to be manufactured). Once we grew our economy using ever more fossil fuels, and everyone could own a computer, we figured out a way to connect them on-line, which led to ever more electric demand. Maybe the age of fossil fuels will end after the world peaks, just as the U.S. peaked in oil production in 1970.

    Freidman acknowledges that the last big innovation in energy production was nuclear power half a century ago, which he feels can be an important component to solving our energy problems, but that we need additional solutions. Realistically, however, nuclear power may be all that stands between civilization and its alternatives. Even with maximum efficiency, the world is going to need a massive source of highly reliable, 24/7, long-lasting, base-load, low-pollution energy, at low-cost. The only energy source we have that comes remotely close to this is nuclear power. Generation IV Fast reactors use a proliferations-resistant pyroprocessing fuel cycle that can obtain over 100 times the energy from the same amount of mined uranium. These reactors could burn up our nuclear waste, depleted uranium, and down-blended fissile material from warheads for centuries of pollution-free power, at low cost. And we have the technology NOW. Just 'google' Integral Fast Reactor if this sounds too good to be true. Not only is Freidmen late to the game in addressing our problems, he focuses too much on false hopes....more info
  • Hot Flat and Crowded
    This is Friedman's best book. It raises awareness by giving many facts on climate change and economic realities and trends in the US, China and the rest of the world and shows us a good blue print for re-inventing the US economy and reversing global climate change. This book is a must read for anyone that cares about what kind of planet our children and future generations will inherit and inhabit....more info
  • Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America
    This is is a great book! We NEED to be more strategic about alternative energy and Oil -- Great examples: France with over 70% energy supplied by Nuclear and Denmark being independent of Mid East Oil. -- I wish everyone could read this (very long) book. The movement to clean renewal energy is clearly a matter of survival. Too bad most people in the US don't understand this. ...more info
  • This book is ridiculous
    Terrible book, specially coming from a war promoter and the owner of malls and a house 110,000!!! square feet!, yeah very enviromental!...more info
  • Propaganda!
    As much as I wanted to like this book, I found I couldn't stomach Friedman's analysis of the Middle East. This is a man who was an embedded journalist in Iraq, after all. How can anyone take an embedded journalist seriously?!
    Suggesting that the Middle East is divided into religious fanatics and happy-go-lucky Arabs who like to drink and party with belly-dancers is a gargantuan over-simplification and an insult to the vast majority of moderate Muslims. Puh-lease, Mr Friedman, your very 'reasonable' language disguises a positively insidious agenda - democratise the Middle East, show it the error of its ways, introduce some incentives to water down your religious intensity, stop oppressing women and come to the great American party. Meanwhile, you forget that Hamas was democratically elected; you forget that Iraq was actually invaded (not opened up to benign democratic reform); you forget that the American way is *not* appealing to many nations.
    And finally, you have the temerity to suggest that Lebanon initiated the war with Israel. Wake-up call! Israel went into Lebanon with guns blazing, just like it's doing in Gaza now.
    Whatever energy theories you may be putting forward may well be valid, but you lost me with your ra-ra patriotism and propaganda in chapter one. I see through you, Mr Friedman!

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  • Great ideas, but far too long and repetitive
    I really enjoyed The World is Flat, and while being an insightful book, it was also a good read. I hoped for the same in Hot, Flat and Crowded and was let down.

    The book has several great points, but there was far too much repetition in subjects and the content was very dry. I thought this book would have been better served at 200 pages, instead of 400. I am all for 400 page books, as long as I can read more than three pages without falling asleep.

    In closing, the ideas in the book are great, but the delivery is very weak.

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  • Friedman is a genius
    No one presents the subject of globalization better than Thomas Friedman. His books should be mandatory reading. What I used to see as bad for America, I now see as a great opportunity IF we are willing to put out the effort. I can't wait for the next book....more info
  • Disappointing
    I gave "The World Is Flat" a 5 and fully expected the same from this book. I found this book to be very repetitive and rambling. An abridged version of about 25 pages would probably suffice to make his points. As someone who thinks he knows the future, Friedman missed the boat on our current crises just like everyone else. But wait, I'm sure his "updated" self-revisionist version of this book will contain a chapter that magically ties in the financial crisis that occurred just after the 1st edition was published. To his credit, the book contains 30% post-consumer fibers. Why not state that it contains 70% non-post-consumer fibers. I guess some journalsits take a class in statistics, learning how to manipulate numbers to inflate their hypotheses. As a conservative environmentalist, I must say that this book was a great disappointment......more info
  • A must read
    This is the book I have been waiting for someone to write. Connecting the dots between the everyday decisions we make, the political decisions this country makes, and the greater ramifications for our world. It is a wake up call for everyone still living in denial, but more importantly, a discussion about how to prioritize the issues and what can be done about them....more info
  • Glue and Scratches on most CDs - Avoid Macmillan Audio
    Yes, the book is insightful, and offers many ideas to jump start your "green" thinking, but...Beware of the packaging of this very expensive audio book. Of the 17 CDs, 16 of mine are scratched and 3 have glue on the outer edges.

    It is a shame that the producer "Macmillan Audio" tried to save 1 dollar by jamming the CDs into unprotected rough cardboard multi-sleeves. For a 60 dollar product this is unforgivable.

    I will not buy another Macmillan Audio book.

    Forgive the rant....more info
  • Hot, Flat and Crowded
    This is literally a "must read" book. The world's burgeoning population and soaring demand for ever more scarce resources is at a crisis point. We must all act together - governments, private sector and us as individuals. This is no time for politics, hidden agendas or indifference. Life as we know it WILL change, how much depends on what we ALL do NOW!...more info
  • Interesting Read
    This was assigned to me for a college course in Sustainability, the other books were not so interesting, but this is an easy read with extremely interesting topics. All of which need to be taken care of today ( energy consumption, globalization, green house emissions). Much better than expected, Friedman has brilliant ideas and a great way of getting them across to anyone....more info
  • You don't get to vote or open your mouth until you read this!
    Every American should read or listen to this book TWICE!

    Mr. Friedman is a very talented writer and has an awesome ability to frame issues, support it with fact and offer solutions. This book lays it right out there in a real, factual and digestible way, and actually proposes solutions to get the US to be a world innovative power again. I'm in. ...more info
  • "We Have Exactly Enough Time - Starting Now"
    The United States and the world are standing at a precipice looking down into the abyss. Choosing the wrong path at this juncture will be disastrous for the human race. Unfortunately, rather than leading, the United States has stood idly by for the last eight years sometimes even nudging us forward towards the cliffs edge. The challenges faced include the three headed beast of excessive energy usage, global climate change and loss of freedom. Thomas Friedman sees a green movement to renewable energy source as the solution to all three problems.

    What the world faces is perhaps the greatest moral dilemma ever. Poverty and early death are tragedies that have always loomed over the world's population but with the success of the integrated economy and modern medicine more and more people are moving into the middle class while life expectancies continue to rise. But in one of the cruelest ironies ever this burgeoning wealth has only accelerated the depletion of the planets resources and the damage to the environment. So how do you tell people that they can't join in the prosperity? Friedman's goal is to manage the growing population and dwindling resources by creating a green revolution that focuses both on renewable energy and perhaps even more important, conservation.

    Regardless of its staggering successes Capitalism has one fatal flaw, that being that it is essentially amoral. The efficacy of Capitalism has been measured almost solely on growth but the planet has finite resources to grow with. So here we find ourselves at a loggerhead with laissez faire capitalists fighting against those who would conserve resources and reduce emissions while the planets fossil fuels dwindle and the temperature rises. The thinking seems to be that time and energy spend on preserving the planet drains energy that could be devoted to growth and would deny people the freedom to waste as they please. Friedman expresses my long held belief perfectly when he writes, "I absolutely do not understand why Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives would make climate-change denial a conservative republican plank" The do nothing mentality has ruled the roost in the United States through the Bush Administration.

    Friedman's solution is for the federal government to take a role in shaping the future. What scares investors away from major investments in alternative energy sources is uncertainty which is evident right now with the unexpected and dramatic drop in fuel prices. Friedman writes, "we need the government to level the playing field by taxing what we don't want and subsidizing what we do want" The author proposes setting a floor on fuel prices at say $100 a barrel. Instead the government subsidizes oil keeping it artificially low. Subsidies could then be used to assist alternative energy companies. In this plan the federal government would be influencing the energy industry using the power of market forces. Conservatives will no doubt fight against it tooth and nail but Friedman's plan is no more intrusive than what we currently having going with subsidies going to oil, coal and gas companies and probably less given the way petrol dictorships have forced us into overseas conflicts. Friedman wants to USE market forces to create a green revolution not resist them.

    What I like about Friedman is how he views the world holistically. As the price of fuel rises petrol dictorships are given the flexibility to curtail freedoms, ignore innovation and allow industry to wither on the vine writing "Whenever governments can raise most of their revenues by simply drilling a hole in the ground rather than tapping their people's energy, creativity, and entrepreneurship, freedom tends to be curtailed, education underfunded, and human development retarded". So essentially if we create renewable energy source and reduce our demand for oil it has a likely benefit of increasing freedom in areas like the Middle East, Russia and parts of South America. This is funny considering that Friedman was an early and vocal supporter of the Bush method of spreading Democracy through invasions. The authors suggests building the energy infrastructure of third world countries using renewable energy sources like solar and wind. That is a great idea.

    Thomas Friedman doesn't like to write about small topics. `Hot, Flat, and Crowded' is about nothing less than the future of mankind and our possible end unless prudent decision are made. This may not be the best book I've ever read but it may be the most important. Despite from misgivings I may have with Thomas Friedman I have to give this book five stars....more info
  • He keeps repeating himself.
    This is an okay book. If you want to learn about how global warming is impacting our world Friedman will explain this to you in more ways than you can think. I found the book to have a few good points, such as Petropolitics as well as how we may live in the future. What I didn't like is that what feels like every other chapter Friedman reiterates the horrible things that CO2 emissions are causing on the earth. I read this in the early chapters he doesn't have to keep bringing it up. To say the least because of his constant explanation of global warming the balance of what has to happen is lost. I enjoyed reading The World is Flat, however this book has been a huge struggle to read to the end....more info
  • Interesting Look at Petropolitics
    This is an excellent book, but like an earlier reviewer, I believe the future of the sustainable energy industry lies within the private sector, not within the hands of the government. The private sector is more than willing to take the necessary risks in order to create efficient technological products. One thing I do fear is that after 2009, it's possible we might see a Green Energy boom and then bust. Green Energy could very well be the next Bubble.

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  • Listen to this message!
    Pay attention to the next most important boom on our planet. There was Information Technology but the country that corners ENERGY TECHNOLOGY will rule. Thomas Friedman's message will hopefully be the cornerstone for the Obama Era. Putting our money into breakthrough energy research to produce abundant,clean and cheap electrons will change the course of the world. Everyone can learn from this insightful book. ...more info
  • Excellent, Must Read Book
    This is one of the most important books written in out time. Thomas Friedman presents a compelling rationale for the need for a new paradigm in energy economics. He also presents well thought through recommendations for how the US can reassert its leadership in the world by taking leadership in the adoption of alternate energy strategies in research & development, energy generation and distribution....more info
  • Leapfrog Your Expert Friends
    On rare and joyful occasions a single book can leapfrog a person from ignorant to well informed between the front and back covers, and put a smile on your face while doing so. Hot, Flat, and Crowded is such a book.

    I first became fascinated by concerns about global warming and overpopulation four decades ago (yep, early voices raised the alarm in the 70's), and have followed the debate closely ever since. Countless books and articles later, here's my conclusion: I could have saved myself a HUGE amount of time by just waiting until 2008 and reading Friedman's latest book. Thorough, thoughtful, funny, respectful, and determinedly hopeful, Hot, Flat, and Crowded raises a clarion call to action without descending into piety, righteousness, or condemnation.

    When one takes a class in physics, calculus, or biology, it's not unusual to be led through the material by a teacher who shows up with the didactic equivalent of hip waders on, sighs, and says "OK, class, let's begin slogging through the material". But now and then (Oh! Joyful Day!) a professor cartwheels into a classroom, eyes popping, and begins crashing through the material with a "Holy Cow! Class! Look at this!" attitude that dazzles the students, and leaves them incapable of going back to the way they viewed the world when they slumped through door on day one. Hot, Flat, and Crowded is such a class, with such a professor, available at a whale of a deal compared to going back to high school or college.

    Feeling upset by drowning polar bears, but underinformed about the environment, and wanting to catch up quick? Read this book. You will be better informed than 95% of whichever demographic you call home.

    Looking for a single book to recommend to a Limbaugh fan that is beginning to think that maybe, just MAYBE, a little research is in order? This is that book.

    Weary of doom and gloom environmentalist Jeremiahs that wear recycled clothing, eat only organic vegetables plucked from the dumpsters behind grocery stores, and have carbon footprints no bigger than a one-legged ant? Well, here's a treat for you: Friedman has a refreshing, terrifically pleasant, nonjudgmental, and nonetheless ardent, voice. His call to action is clear, his information is fascinating, his proposals are clear-minded, his affection for the United States is unmistakeable, and his voice is untainted by pretentiousness, holier-than-thou condescension, or rancor.

    Hot, Flat and Crowded begins with a careful review of the evidence that we've reached, and are on the verge of passing, a tipping point of enviromental cataclysm. Here's where the book differs from a host of other books of a similar ilk: it includes a long list of doable, intriguing, and well thought out proposals for drawing a line in the carbon, and stepping forward into the type of world that those of us that retain partial sanity would love to leave to our children (or, if childless, the children of our friends).

    Finally, if you still think global warming and overpopulation are left wing broken brained, wacky weed induced fantasies, read the book anyway. Scout enemy territory, so to speak. I do dare to say that if you don't find yourself convinced about an impending environmental tsunami, you'll still be intellectually entranced by Friedman's vision of America once again becoming a lighthouse to the world, and getting rich doing so. Even a hybrid driving greenie (me) loves the concept of a resurgent leadership role for my favorite country on the planet, and an economy that thrives on such a role.

    ...more info
  • Hot, Flat and Crowded
    I found this book very compelling. The authors insights are right on target.
    If we are to do anything about our future, the time to get started is NOW.
    Let each one who agrees with Mr. Friedman try to think of how they can make a
    difference and try to do it, starting TODAY before it is too late....more info
  • Hot Air
    Hypothesis: with enough hot air, something good may happen. Yet, in most cases, more bad results than good. Thomas Friedman should know this since he writes about climate change--a warmer planet may result in more productive crops, but ultimately, the negative impacts of greater drought/precipitation extremes, rising sea levels and reduced surface water will outweigh higher crop yields.

    Similarly, Friedman is full of hot air. He blasts the reader with his jingoistic love for American innovation and idealism. His views of international energy politics--of what he deems petrodictatorships--is shockingly biased, uninformed, and superficial. He piggybacks on the political bywords of the day--climate change, biodiversity loss, Islamic extremism--converts it all into a neat package--Energy Climate Era, Code Green revolution--and smacks the reader over the head until everything makes sense and the reader can only see three words: hot, flat and crowded.

    Unfortunately, it is also the case that Friedman is so on top of the political pulse that he's basically dictating it. Only we won't realize it for a few decades or so, when people start remembering Friedman as the bellwether of our time. It's a shame, but it's also a reason to listen up to what he says: that way we can point out where he got it wrong. ...more info
  • A Must Read
    A must read for everyone who lives on this planet and cares about our future.
    It's tough going in places but will help you understand the Big Picture.
    It provides a path to healing that is large enough to be successful....more info
  • Ties the threads into a (mostly) coherent analysis
    In his latest book, Tom Friedman links climate change, globalization, and overpopulation into a coherent call to action that is much less screed than usually accompanies the Chicken Little school exemplified by the two most recent US Vice Presidents. In this book, national security, international economics, energy competitiveness, environmental health, education, health care ... nearly all of the issues in the present public debating arena are interwoven with vignettes of interviews conducted with a wide range of experts from GE CEO Jeff Immelt to conservation biologists working in Indonesia. Most well-informed and well-rounded readers will not agree with all of the author's conclusions. Anyone with an open mind will at least see that the gist of his thesis makes some sense. Those whose minds are made up that: (1) global warming is fantasy that can safely be ignored, (2) there is no link between the amount of gas you burn in your car each year and the number of bullets fired at US troops in Afghanistan, or (3) globalization is both undesirable and reversible, will find plenty to fault. Agree or not, this book at least deserves a thorough reading to stimulate thinking....more info
  • A Waste of Time
    I have read and generally enjoyed Friedman for a while. But this book, borrowing the theme of his "The World is Flat," is sufficiently superficial at times and just silly at others that I gave it up for a loss about halfway through. He is an advocate of the "climate is changing, and if you don't believe it's anthropogenic in origin and that life as we know it is imminently threatened thereby" school of thought. ...more info
  • But, but all scientists do not agree
    The author is calling for a crash comprehensive green revolution based on inconclusive science. On page 35 Mr. Friedman writes "...scientists say the human factor is causing global warming.", he fails to add that many eminent and reputable scientists disagree with that. That being the case would it not be more prudent to call for slow incremental green evolution? At the end of his book Thomas Friedman and "his" scientists prove that they do not know how urgent a green revolution is. On page 410 the author's friend, Auden Schendler, says, "we've got about ten years to make a difference." That statement is not followed up with a description of what exactly will happen if they fail to make a difference. What are they forecasting in ten years? Do they have some scientific data that indicates a critical point of no return that they have not shared with the climate change deniers? Apparently not, on page 412 you can finally read: "We have exactly enough time - starting now." It is very unlikely that in ten years that will still not be a valid statement (even if in the mean-time some less than green means are used to gain energy independence).

    ...more info
  • A must read
    This book is amazing, simple as that. Some of the chapters get a bit heavy, but its well worth finishing. The best book I have read this year. A blueprint for those in the renewable energy industry!
    ...more info
  • Very good deal!
    Bought this book for about $11.00 - brand new - money going to support a Texas public library - great deal all around...more info
  • This book should be required reading for Congress
    What a great book!! Our global problems are very clearly defined and solutions are very clearly explained. It is very readable, fascinating, and quite motivational. Our current economic problems make this the perfect time for our country to lead the way on a green revolution.
    ...more info
  • Wandering & Nonsensical
    Friedman at his Friedmanest. That is to say wandering blithely from mixed metaphors to anecdotal solutions and occasionally into complete nonsense. If your already a fan of his columns then what can I say, your going to love this book. If however you've had this book recommended to you (probably by someone in middle management) because it is somehow "important" then don't bother....more info
  • a classic - my new favorite
    Friedman is a great researcher, futurist and writer. This book is a classic. A must read for anyone who wants to be informed about the world.

    The Hot part is the global environment. He used the term "global weirding" as opposed to "global warming". Using that term brings it into focus better for most people. Look at the weather where you live - is it weird. What about Katrina? And of course climate is not whether.

    The Flat part is what he spoke about in his first book - The World is Flat. Technology allows work to be shifted anywhere in the world based on economics. This economics theme plays through the whole book.

    The Crowded is the population growth which adds to the stress on the environment and also encourages the "flat" part.

    As the title implies, much of the book is about the environment. He points out that this has become a political issue but green really should not be. It is a common goal.

    Friedman is very knowledgeable about the middle east. Part of his frame of reference comes from that studied background. His view is dependence on middle east oil is much of the world problem today.

    The book nicely ties together economics and the green movement. To be perfectly simple, people will be green if they save money and this is the main way to drive green through out society. So he pushes for government policies which support this.

    The thesis of the book is we can thrive financially if we focus on going green. This is an encouraging message despite the doom he cites in the statistics at the start of the book.

    And after reading it, I feel guilty for not walking to work today - doing my small part for the environment.

    This is a must read....more info
  • Late 2008, Early 2009 has not been kind to Hot, Flat, and Crowded
    Although Hot, Flat, and Crowded does make some compelling points, for a current affairs book, much of it is already dated in my humble opinion.

    Friedman tries to present arguments that the world is getting hot (global warming), flat (his term for globalization of communication), and crowded (in terms of population). In doing so, he relies on his casual conversations and interview excerpts with a thousand person parade of C-listers. (Who? -Exactly.) He relies too heavily on pseudoexperts who merely reinforce the beliefs he has already developed, which is unfortunately the current modus operandi for "journalists" of Friedman's ilk.

    Friedman will make a brilliant point, but then follow it up with a buffoonish statement. For example, he develops decent arguments for renewable energy, and then state we all need to be like California. Have you seen the current condition of California?

    In terms of late 2008 and early 2009 not being kind to this book, he states with all confidence and authority that Al Gore's work is infallible. However, we might note the recent number of scientists who are LEAVING government-sponsored programs and discounting many of these theories. Once their livelihood no longer depends on the "fact" that is global climate change, many are far more skeptical. Friedman easily writes off doubters with ideology rather than examining the actual science that causes them to doubt. Another tragic example is on p. 378 when he bemoans not increasing our deficit for some clean energy breaks. We have an unbelievable deficit now, and I'm not sure anyone likes it.

    From an economic standpoint, Friedman understands the microeconomic concepts of supply and demand, however, it is clear he is unfamiliar with the law of unintended consequences. He continuously calls for subsidies on the project that he likes, and taxes on the ones he dislikes.

    Perhaps my biggest complaint about this book is unnecessary length. As noted, some great points are made, but then they are made again and again and again. For a "journalist," Friedman has never learned about the importance of being concise. He may have stopped somewhere around halfway through the book, for he adds little support to any arguments or plans beyond that: it is merely unnecessary repetition.

    In summary, the book is simple reading, and for all the pseudoexperts and entry-level dignitaries quoted, there is relatively little actual hard evidence, merely opinion and some logic. The points are decent, but the writing is bad, which is why I'd give it a "2."...more info
  • Most important book of the decade
    Friedman tells us how areas of our Earth are being destroyed and then tells us what we can do to minimize the damage, if we begin now. He's right on the money. As a scientist myself, I am really scared of global climate change -- a change that is currently under way. Politicians need to listen to the science. ...more info
  • What's New???
    I imagine this would be a decent read for someone who hasn't bothered to read any of the vast array of material on climate change and energy policy over the last few years. For those that have, don't waste your time on this. I don't disagree with his general premise that we have a big problem to solve, but his solutions are nothing new. Friedman isn't a scientist so you're not going to gain any new technical insights. He's also not much of an economist. Some of his ideas go beyond optomistic to downright laughable. We're talking second grader optomistic - you'll park your battery powered car in a garage and make money by selling back the energy at peak times. Come on, like were all going to get rich by doing nothing....more info


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