Sunday, November 30, 2008

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

Hot refers to global warming; flat refers to access to wealth almost anywhere in the world; and crowded refers to exponential population growth. His book, The World is Flat, covers the flat concept completely and he only mentions it in passing in this book. Population growth is described, but no real solutions are offered. The book is mostly about global warming and how that trend is being accelerated by the other two trends.

Normally I write long reviews of books like this one because the subject is important and complex. I’m not going to do that here, and it isn’t because this isn’t well written. It is. I think that the book is so important that everyone should read it for themselves. It’s a tough read with almost 450 pages of analysis and prescriptive suggestions to solve global warming. And, I’m concerned about some the detailed solutions. I personally would have preferred a shorter book with more discussion of strategy. However, Friedman is one of the best thinkers and writers on complex subjects, and this topic is one he’s been working on almost his entire professional life.

What I am going to do, is to write a short summary here and then a series of blogs on specific topics or quotes. And this book is very quotable. Every few pages I found an insightful comment suitable for quotation.

Why should we (America) be concerned about global warming? Four reasons: green solutions save money, will create incredible wealth, will be the basis for global leadership, and will improve the quality of life of our grandchildren.
Friedman believes that if we can shape and price protect markets for green products; America will invest in the research and development, market creation, manufacturing and distribution of green products and services. Other countries have begun this journey, and he fears that we will lose moral and economic leadership if they succeed and we don’t. And, if none of us succeed, our grandchildren will suffer.

I do not disagree with anything I read in the book. However, I have two fears. Without a new monetary system that is not built on debt, we will stay trapped in a consumer based society. And, we need a new way to judge the worthiness of an enterprise other than economic value added to its owners. They both must somehow be based on value to society and the future.

Hot, Flat and Crowded: How We Need a Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America, Thomas Friedman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,2008, 438 pages

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