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

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In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America's urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globali In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America's urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet--one that is "hot, flat, and crowded."  In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession.  The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy.  And it could inspire Americans to something we haven't seen in a long time--nation-building in America--by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources. Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge--and the promise--of the future.


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In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America's urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globali In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America's urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet--one that is "hot, flat, and crowded."  In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession.  The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy.  And it could inspire Americans to something we haven't seen in a long time--nation-building in America--by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources. Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge--and the promise--of the future.

30 review for Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jayson

    (C+) 67% | Almost Satisfactory Notes: Convincing arguments, but terribly aggravating when endlessly quoting numbers and painting doomsday scenarios.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    I haven't finished this book, but I feel like there are a few examples that if I don't get down, I will forget, and they illustrate how I feel about this book well. First off, I'd like to mention that if this was a fiction book, it would get one star. Having recently ventured into the nonfiction category more and more, and having been so pleased with Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, and Bob Woodward, I took a recommendation and bought this hefty little bugger. What I wasn't expecting is that the style w I haven't finished this book, but I feel like there are a few examples that if I don't get down, I will forget, and they illustrate how I feel about this book well. First off, I'd like to mention that if this was a fiction book, it would get one star. Having recently ventured into the nonfiction category more and more, and having been so pleased with Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, and Bob Woodward, I took a recommendation and bought this hefty little bugger. What I wasn't expecting is that the style would make a big difference. Like I mentioned, if this was fiction, it would get one star—but as a nonfiction book, at least the information is good. The problem is that Friedman's writing style is so repetitive, boastfully clever, and patronizing, that it's really hard to read. A couple of quick examples: "'Green is not simply a new form of generating electric power,' added Rothkopf. 'It is a new form of generating national power—period.' "Let me repeat that: Green is not simply a new form of generating electric power. It is a new form of generating national power—period." Now, repetition can be useful in song lyrics and poetry, but even then there's often at least some form of distance between repetitions or a variation. This just made my eyes immediately glaze over. What makes you think I didn't get it the first time? This sort of patronizing tone is repeated again and again, most notably when he quotes a report on cow's flatulence and belching causing methane build-up. His quote includes helpful brackets after the word "regurgitate[spit-up:]". Now, I know some people aren't college educated. But I really think anyone reading this book is going to already know what regurgitate means. The other major problem I had was that he really seems to think his clever little turns of phrase are so great that he can use them again and again and again until you want to bash your own face in with a hammer. The name of the book is "Hot, Flat, and Crowded," referring to rising temperature, globalizations of markets, and overpopulation. But whenever he makes a reference to globalization, he feels like he has to say "flattening". It sounds stupid. I'm glad you have a clever title, Tom, but that doesn't mean you have to write in newspeak. I guess I'll update this once I finish it. Like I said, the info is good, I just find his style personally offensive.

  3. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    This book shows Tom Friedman at the top of his game. Friedman is always good at eliciting insightful information from a vast number of interviews. The task he sets for himself here could be daunting to others: integrate the global economic revolution with the climate change evolution and this world's burgeoning population in order to view realistically the options for our species. The fact that his solution is not simple but compelling adds to the value of the book, but even if he were only to s This book shows Tom Friedman at the top of his game. Friedman is always good at eliciting insightful information from a vast number of interviews. The task he sets for himself here could be daunting to others: integrate the global economic revolution with the climate change evolution and this world's burgeoning population in order to view realistically the options for our species. The fact that his solution is not simple but compelling adds to the value of the book, but even if he were only to state the problem it would be worthwhile to spend some time reading it. I need to go back over it again and use my highlighter to make this book more valuable as a reference. I know I will be quoting it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marit

    If you know a fair amount already about the current ecological/environmental situation of our world, I recommend skimming if not skipping the entire first half of the book. As for the second half, Friedman has good points about how to change policy, encourage technology, etc. to solve our problems. However, my biggest issue with this book is how talky it was. 100 pages easily could have been trimmed off the four-hundred pages. Friedman likes examples and anectdotes, LOTS of them. I often found t If you know a fair amount already about the current ecological/environmental situation of our world, I recommend skimming if not skipping the entire first half of the book. As for the second half, Friedman has good points about how to change policy, encourage technology, etc. to solve our problems. However, my biggest issue with this book is how talky it was. 100 pages easily could have been trimmed off the four-hundred pages. Friedman likes examples and anectdotes, LOTS of them. I often found that his main points were subsumed beneath the weight of fun little stories. Interesting and informative read but should be much more succint.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    Not a quick read to take to the beach on a summer afternoon, but the topic and ideas presented are too important to ignore. People sometimes quickly dismiss books about environmental issues, assuming it will lead to the condemning of science, technology, and societal advances, instead proposing a regression toward a simpler 1800's style lifestyle. What makes the book different to me is that Friedman has researched and described solutions which exist, have been proven, make both environmental as Not a quick read to take to the beach on a summer afternoon, but the topic and ideas presented are too important to ignore. People sometimes quickly dismiss books about environmental issues, assuming it will lead to the condemning of science, technology, and societal advances, instead proposing a regression toward a simpler 1800's style lifestyle. What makes the book different to me is that Friedman has researched and described solutions which exist, have been proven, make both environmental as well as economic sense. In 2008, the U.S. has faced significant downturns in the housing market, the stock market, banking, a continuing energy crisis, volatile and soaring gasoline prices, Detroit now stuck with 20th century vehicles no longer suitable for the 21st century, soaring budget deficits, and a do-nothing Congress locked in ideological finger pointing. Perhaps the culmination of all these problems arising at the same time is that the public will read this book and clamor for solutions. Hopefully, elected officials will also read this book, recognize the seriousness of these problems, think Nationally vs. Regionally, recognize the solutions which are available, and lead vs. react to crises in energy and environmental areas, and enact solutions similar to those offered in Friedman's book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Darrick

    In two words; we're screwed. I had a feeling this was the case but this book really paints a vivid picture of our screw'dness. According to Friedman all the stars really need to align, and fast, in order for us (humans) to reverse global warming and not go extinct. Here's what needs to happen: 1.) The US needs to get our heads out of our pants and start pumping tons of money (both private and public) into green energy. 2.) The US needs to enstate a gas floor so that gas prices cannot go below say In two words; we're screwed. I had a feeling this was the case but this book really paints a vivid picture of our screw'dness. According to Friedman all the stars really need to align, and fast, in order for us (humans) to reverse global warming and not go extinct. Here's what needs to happen: 1.) The US needs to get our heads out of our pants and start pumping tons of money (both private and public) into green energy. 2.) The US needs to enstate a gas floor so that gas prices cannot go below say 3$ or 4$/gallon. This way investment in green energy will be guaranteed a market and will be less of a risk. 3.) The global warming naysayers need to do some research and start believing the scientists and stop saying "it's a political issue". 4.) Our electricity backbone needs to get smarter, and we need to tackle the energy problem from both the supply side AND the demand side (right now we only worry about the supply side). 5.) We need to stop pandering to the oil/gas lobby's which continually shut down attempts to further green energy incentives and funding. 6.) With China and India developing they need to develop green and not continue to use dirty coal, and the internal combustion engine as transportation. 7.) We have to figure out how to get poor people to stop cutting down their forests. Our window of opportunity is shrinking every day and if we continue to do little or nothing it will be to late. This stuff is scarier than anything Steve King has ever written. I'm sure I'm missing a few points but that's what I came up with off the top of my head. As for the writing itself, well, that's why it only got 4 stars. I feel that Friedman tends to be overly verbose and repetitive.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    After half a dozen false starts, I've figured out that I don't have a clever way to summarize Friedman's environmental opus; Hot, Flat and crowded. But I did find that in my read-through I'd marked ten sections I found particularly illuminating and so with apologies to David Letterman I'd like to present my review using Friedman's own words, with some editing. The top ten quotes that indicate Hot, Flat, and Crowded is worth a read. #10. "15 to 20 percent of all primates have been described by scie After half a dozen false starts, I've figured out that I don't have a clever way to summarize Friedman's environmental opus; Hot, Flat and crowded. But I did find that in my read-through I'd marked ten sections I found particularly illuminating and so with apologies to David Letterman I'd like to present my review using Friedman's own words, with some editing. The top ten quotes that indicate Hot, Flat, and Crowded is worth a read. #10. "15 to 20 percent of all primates have been described by science in just the last 15 years." #9. "In 2020, there will be 1.5 billion people in China... habitable land has been halved over the past 50 years..." #8. "A car that is idling produces twenty times the pollution that a car going 30 miles an hour does, because a car is made to move, not to idle." #7. "In 2007, Indonesia spend 30 percent of its budget on energy subsidies and only 6 percent on education." #6. "In 1975, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Concervation Act... Not surprisingly, it all worked. Between 1975 and 1985, American passenger vehicle mileage went from around 13.5 miles per gallon to 27.5." #5. "Indeed, it was precisely the overexuberance of the dot-com bubble that led to the overinvestment of billions of dollars into fiber-optic cable from the late 1990s to the early 2000s... making Internet connectivity virtually free for everyone." #4. "In what free market would you find the U.S. government slapping a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on sugarcane ethanol imported from Brazil, a democratic ally of the United States, while imposing only a 1.25-cent-a-gallon tariff on crude oil imported from Saudi Arabia, the home of most of the 9/11 hijackers?" #3. "Name five political swing states. People often say, 'Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia... Eliminate Florida and say those states again... what do they all have in common? Coal, coal, coal coal'... then add Iowa and the Midwest and biofuels and pretty soon you have no discussion about renewable energy at all." #2. "The American pet food industry spends more each year on R&D than the American utilities industry does." #1. "Eventually, (oil rich) Saudi Arabia, which constitutes only 1 percent of the Muslim population, would support 90 percent of the expenses of the entire faith, overriding other traditions of Islam. Music disappeared in the Kingdom. Censorship smothered art and literature, and intellectual life... withered." Note: This is only a four-star review because Friedman repeats his favorite catch-phrases over and over for no reason. I hope you like the title; Hot, Flat and Crowded, because you're going to be reading it a good 7,500 times if you read this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Much as Michael Pollan’s In the Defense of Food was a logical sequel to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, this latest current affairs book by Friedman is the logical next-step after reading The World is Flat, Friedman’s last treatise on the nature of a post-industrial world in which brain-power and a better educated populace will define the future of the world. In this passionately articulated follow-up, Friedman details and argues for a green revolution that needs to take hold of America if it hopes to r Much as Michael Pollan’s In the Defense of Food was a logical sequel to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, this latest current affairs book by Friedman is the logical next-step after reading The World is Flat, Friedman’s last treatise on the nature of a post-industrial world in which brain-power and a better educated populace will define the future of the world. In this passionately articulated follow-up, Friedman details and argues for a green revolution that needs to take hold of America if it hopes to remain the world’s leader in innovation. He appeals to our sense of pride by stoking our collective ego for being the model of innovation -- rather than admonishing us for our real and imagined ill ways – by vigorously arguing that we can remain number one if we would only put aside short-sighted politics. Although he is clearly a man that looks at the world with a sense that the glass if half full, one cannot help but think that any denial of man’s impact on the planet – think of VP contender Sarah Palin’s purposeful avoidance of implicating humans as the cause of global warming – will stymie any of the much-needed structural and organizational change that Friedman so passionately argues for. Strategic tax incentives and increased research and development for renewable energy resources that don’t produce CO2, heightened consumer and civic awareness of our dilemma, and well as a more rigorous change in our consumption habits are on his menu of must-dos. Although his detailed explanations can be long-winded – if he were a politician, fact-checkers would have field-day with his plethora of information -- his ardent and urgent call to action is much needed in this time of shallow “green awareness”. You know what I mean: the increasingly ridiculous commodification of everything labeled “green” so that you can’t tell a phony from the real-deal. As Friedman argues, it will take more than some belt-tightening, but rather some major cognitive dissonance and economic overhaul if we in the industrialized world are to batten down the hatches (so to speak) and fundamentally change our politics so that our economy can change and grow. Which is also saying a lot considering the dismal state our country is in right now. (Can it get any worse? I certainly hope not.) Even though I would normally feel that much of what Friedman posits would be ignored by the administration that we’ve been putting up with during these last eight years, it’s encouraging to know that he has an ally with the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, Barack Obama. Yes, things can change. And likely will, if current poll trends hold.

  9. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    My second time to read a book by Thomas L. Friedman (born 1953). He is an American columnist (New York Times Foreign Affairs), journalist and author. The first book I read by him was The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (tbr) but I was not able to finish it because a former colleague borrowed and did not return it. But since the world is flat, I hope the book will find its way back to me. Hah. Anyway, Friedman still discusses globalization (main theme of The World is Fla My second time to read a book by Thomas L. Friedman (born 1953). He is an American columnist (New York Times Foreign Affairs), journalist and author. The first book I read by him was The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (tbr) but I was not able to finish it because a former colleague borrowed and did not return it. But since the world is flat, I hope the book will find its way back to me. Hah. Anyway, Friedman still discusses globalization (main theme of The World is Flat) here. Aside from that, though, he also shows how it (flat) is impacted by global warming (that's why there is hot in the title) and high population (crowded). There are many informative and insightful points that Friedman raised in this book. They are mostly alarming because we know that we are all experiencing those, i.e., there is no escaping. Alarming because there is almost nothing we can do individually. In cases that there is, like buying environment-friendly stuff, avoiding the use of plastics, avoiding buying new things if the old one can still be used, etc., they seem to have very little impact to the whole situation. The carbon emission quota per country or manufacturing of cars that are more environment-friendly are the actionable things that will have a higher and immediate impact to arrest the worsening environmental degradation. Friedman is an American and this book has Americans and the target reader. However, as he also pointed out in the book, American cannot do this alone since there are more people in China and India. This has to be a joint undertaking at least by these three countries. However, America leading the pack will give it a better direction since America is still the world's superpower. It's a nice book to remind us that the problems on global warming and high population growth are upon us. It is a good reminder that if we don't do anything drastic now (and before 2050), the next generations to us will reap the problems of our neglect.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Arminius

    This book states what is wrong with the energy world and ways to fix it. Mr. Friedman correctly addresses the energy issues as problematic. The best information in this book is his terrorist causing theory. He states that Saudi Arabian extremely wealthy oil barrens are responsible for funding Al-Qaeda and other anti-western terrorist organizations while Americans are paying the salaries of these wealthy Saudi’s through high oil prices. He argues that when oil prices are low there are far less te This book states what is wrong with the energy world and ways to fix it. Mr. Friedman correctly addresses the energy issues as problematic. The best information in this book is his terrorist causing theory. He states that Saudi Arabian extremely wealthy oil barrens are responsible for funding Al-Qaeda and other anti-western terrorist organizations while Americans are paying the salaries of these wealthy Saudi’s through high oil prices. He argues that when oil prices are low there are far less terrorist attacks. One of his solutions is to tax oil so high that it motivates innovators and industrialists to create cheaper alternatives. He is also gives a rousing endorsement to the so-called green energy producers such as wind turbine and solar panels to produce electricity. Conservation is also part of his grand plan. He describes a model country with a complicated power grid where electricity is used only when needed and turned off when not. At least he doesn’t place total blame on automobile and heating oil for his view of causes for global warming. He chronicles deforestation in Indonesia and an increase of population growth which correspondingly increase energy use. I agree with him in that we need abundant, clean, reliable and cheap electricity. However, I disagree with his assumption that the earth is warming and it is caused by human activity. And even if that is the case, he entertains the idea that catastrophic consequences are certain when few others can make that claim. If his assumptions were correct this book would be very sad. Fortunately global warming movement is one of the largest hoaxes played on mankind in history. However, cheap energy will vitalize the economy so the road to cheap energy is a laudable cause.

  11. 5 out of 5

    brian tanabe

    I thought I would have questions about a journalist's ability to effectively write on the subject of sustainability (given that he cut his teeth on the Middle East) -- but that presupposition proved false. I thought perhaps Friedman's attempt would get bogged down by anecdote, too encumbered with trying to prove his point -- but here too he did not fail. And yet in the end I fear the warning bell he wishes to ring will not be heard by enough... or rather will not move enough of us, create enough I thought I would have questions about a journalist's ability to effectively write on the subject of sustainability (given that he cut his teeth on the Middle East) -- but that presupposition proved false. I thought perhaps Friedman's attempt would get bogged down by anecdote, too encumbered with trying to prove his point -- but here too he did not fail. And yet in the end I fear the warning bell he wishes to ring will not be heard by enough... or rather will not move enough of us, create enough inertia, to be meaningful. Oddly enough I dont blame Friedman or his book though. I'm not sure what the call to action would take on this topic. There is a lot of meat in this book within which to sink your teeth... a lot to discuss (as I did in a book group) and a lot to make you think, especially about our impact on Earth both as humans and as Americans. One of the most interesting tidbits for me, though not mentioned once by Mr Friedman, is the choice (his?) of Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights on the cover. Fascinating pick given the subject matter.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I finished this book a couple of days ago, and I would have reported on it sooner, but I've been busy becoming a more responsible citizen. A quick inventory revealed that I still had a few incandescent bulbs around the house, which I've now changed out for energy-efficient CFLs. I've been pricing hybrid cars, and by this time next week, will have traded in both our family Tauruses for cars that get twice the mileage. If only every adult in America would read Hot, Flat, and Crowded. The author, wh I finished this book a couple of days ago, and I would have reported on it sooner, but I've been busy becoming a more responsible citizen. A quick inventory revealed that I still had a few incandescent bulbs around the house, which I've now changed out for energy-efficient CFLs. I've been pricing hybrid cars, and by this time next week, will have traded in both our family Tauruses for cars that get twice the mileage. If only every adult in America would read Hot, Flat, and Crowded. The author, who travels extensively, tells some compelling stories. However, the book is packed with history lessons, statistics, and analysis, all of which requires a certain investment from the reader. Anyone willing to make the commitment, however, will be rewarded with a much improved understanding the earth, its current challenges, and what we have to do to meet those challenges. There's no time to waste.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michel

    Ever since 'From Beirut to Jerusalem' (the best book, bar none, on the Middle East), I have read Tom Friedman's books ('Longitudes and Attitudes', 'Lexus and Olive Tree', 'The World is Flat') and I felt the same: he basically rewrites his NYT column, in a somewhat diluted and less focussed way, adds a few examples and boom: new book. This one does not escape this think-lite approach (and BTW most of the ideas come straight out of Obama's New Energy program, published online last year. The sincere Ever since 'From Beirut to Jerusalem' (the best book, bar none, on the Middle East), I have read Tom Friedman's books ('Longitudes and Attitudes', 'Lexus and Olive Tree', 'The World is Flat') and I felt the same: he basically rewrites his NYT column, in a somewhat diluted and less focussed way, adds a few examples and boom: new book. This one does not escape this think-lite approach (and BTW most of the ideas come straight out of Obama's New Energy program, published online last year. The sincerest form of admiration?). But then he writes real good, he's such a pleasure to read! And maybe, if he were more thorough, only policy makers would be able to read him; if he has any impact on the public and Congress, let's applaud.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Curtis

    "In what free market would you find the U.S. government slapping a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on sugarcane ethanol imported from Brazil, a democratic ally of the United States, while imposing only a 1.25-cent-a-gallon tariff on crude oil imported from Saudi Arabia, the home of most of the 9/11 hijackers?" This and a few other juicy quotes have me cringing and ready to protest. So much has changed in the 19 years since this book came out, but so much has stayed the same. Mr. Friedman has a unique wa "In what free market would you find the U.S. government slapping a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on sugarcane ethanol imported from Brazil, a democratic ally of the United States, while imposing only a 1.25-cent-a-gallon tariff on crude oil imported from Saudi Arabia, the home of most of the 9/11 hijackers?" This and a few other juicy quotes have me cringing and ready to protest. So much has changed in the 19 years since this book came out, but so much has stayed the same. Mr. Friedman has a unique way of writing, which I like, but can get a little irritating. But, the book is still very much read worthy. In todays world this book is relevant, scary and eye opening.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Keertana

    A little verbose and definitely repetitive at times, but a very solid argument nevertheless. I enjoyed reading this one and am curious to see if America will embrace the "greener" political path outlined in this novel. If you're interested in the future of our world, particularly pertaining to global warming, biodiversity, or just alternate forms of energy, then this is a must-read. A little verbose and definitely repetitive at times, but a very solid argument nevertheless. I enjoyed reading this one and am curious to see if America will embrace the "greener" political path outlined in this novel. If you're interested in the future of our world, particularly pertaining to global warming, biodiversity, or just alternate forms of energy, then this is a must-read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    "We have exactly enough time-starting now." - late environmentalist Dana Meadows 4.5/5 In this book 3-times Pulitzer winner Shri Shri Shri Friedman talks on green energy. The first half of the book is about the various aspects of the problem, and the second half of policy solutions and how the world has chosen to ignore the problem. In particular, he is severe on his home country USA. This was my 2nd book by the author and I wonder if any1 gets the bigger global picture better than him ! As with " "We have exactly enough time-starting now." - late environmentalist Dana Meadows 4.5/5 In this book 3-times Pulitzer winner Shri Shri Shri Friedman talks on green energy. The first half of the book is about the various aspects of the problem, and the second half of policy solutions and how the world has chosen to ignore the problem. In particular, he is severe on his home country USA. This was my 2nd book by the author and I wonder if any1 gets the bigger global picture better than him ! As with "The World is Flat", the author's tendency to coin phrases "Flat", "Energy Climate era", "clean electrons", "Green GDP" etc can get under your skin BUT - he is perfectly on target with his analysis, use of anecdotes and his policy prescriptions. The 0.5 has been deducted as usual for this repetitive and irritating use of self-coined phrases and the sometimes patronising tone. Must-read and will be reading more by the author.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Dark, depressing yet true.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David

    Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman This book alternately scares the hell out of me and gives me hope for the possibilities in innovation and science that could one day stem the tide of carbon emissions that are hurting our planet and killing my friends the polar bears. At the risk of giving it too much credit, this is a book that everyone should read. From the title, “hot” refers to global warming, which, Friedman suggests, is really more like “global weirding”, giving rise to droughts i Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman This book alternately scares the hell out of me and gives me hope for the possibilities in innovation and science that could one day stem the tide of carbon emissions that are hurting our planet and killing my friends the polar bears. At the risk of giving it too much credit, this is a book that everyone should read. From the title, “hot” refers to global warming, which, Friedman suggests, is really more like “global weirding”, giving rise to droughts in some areas, floods in others, and just a general condition that the planet cannot maintain itself if we do not do something. By “crowded,” he means too many people living like Americans, with our over-consumption and generally wasteful lifestyle (BTW--my 10th grade English teacher tried to get us, as a class, to stop using the term “lifestyle,” as she felt it was somewhat dated and ‘80’s sounding. I think of this anytime I use this word. Any thoughts?). By “flat,” he is referring to the phenomenon of a great number of these people achieving a middle class existence all at the same time, thereby making a great demand on the planet’s resources, creating a need for energy that for the foreseeable future, will continue to be through “dirty” energy sources, like coal. Friedman argues that what we need, as a nation, to lead the world in a systemic change in our energy policy. He argues that we need to make the word “green” go away, only used when someone violates accepted “green” policies, much like the term “civil rights” is now a given, only brought up when violated. He argues that we are a great country with great potential to change the world, yet we lag well behind many of the other countries who have mad e great strides in “Clean” energies, such as solar, wind, etc. A big strength of this book is Friedman’s ability to use understandable metaphors, to drive his point home. For example, the image that has stuck with me is how he explains C02 emissions: imagine that you are driving your car. For every mile you go, imagine that you are throwing a bag of trash out the window. That is your C02. When you think of it that way, it does make you want to re-evaluate your habits. This is an important book that urges change--hard, real change, not just some “205 easy ways to save the Earth” sort of change--to live our lives in what he terms to Energy Climate Era, or ECE. How will we supply the energy needs for a world that is becoming hot, flat, and crowded in such a way that we do not further damage a planet that is in many ways already irreparable? --think of the many animal extinctions and you will know what I mean by “irreparable.” This is not just an environmental issue. Friedman is not some tree-hugging sissy about it. What he is saying is that whichever nation can take the lead on clean energy for the Energy Climate Era will become the most profitable nation in the world, and help to save the world as well. Isn’t that a win-win? Read it, read it, read it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    Oh my god, if I see another contrived 12-letter acronym or infuriating catchphrase being hammered home for the umpteenth time, I might do something terrible. It's as if Friedman is a too-patient schoolteacher trying to explain the alphabet to a bunch of english majors that he has mistaken for wayward children. While this style is helpful for convincing fence-sitters, perhaps, there are so many anecdotes and repetitions that the book is just way longer than it should be. In fact, I'm not even sur Oh my god, if I see another contrived 12-letter acronym or infuriating catchphrase being hammered home for the umpteenth time, I might do something terrible. It's as if Friedman is a too-patient schoolteacher trying to explain the alphabet to a bunch of english majors that he has mistaken for wayward children. While this style is helpful for convincing fence-sitters, perhaps, there are so many anecdotes and repetitions that the book is just way longer than it should be. In fact, I'm not even sure that it should be a book - a bulleted list might be more appropriate: - climate change (a bad and dangerous thing) is linked with the current fossil fuel system and our uncaring and misvaluing of the environment. - by the way the current fossil fuel system is a really bad deal for us and a really good deal for morally questionable middle-eastern countries. - we need economic measures, new technology, and an attitude adjustment (for us and our politicians/policymakers) to reclaim our rightful place as rulers of the free world. - hurry or China will beat us! Most of these points are obvious and have been brought up by other people, so really I can only recommend this book to people who don't know much about climate change and actually need to be persuaded that it's a big deal. In that capacity, it's a good book. But to me personally, this condescending style of writing ("I interviewed a bunch of smart people and they all agreed with me, now get on board!") just turned me off.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adam McCain

    I only read half of this book. Easily the worst non fiction book I have read. The first portion of the book devotes itself to describing the laundry list of Friedman's fears; the link between oil money and radical Islam, Chinese and Indian growth, global warming, and America's stagnant relationship with green energy. Instead of focusing on any one of these topics that some authors spend careers focusing on Friedman decided to take all of them on at once. The effect of this being that he fails to g I only read half of this book. Easily the worst non fiction book I have read. The first portion of the book devotes itself to describing the laundry list of Friedman's fears; the link between oil money and radical Islam, Chinese and Indian growth, global warming, and America's stagnant relationship with green energy. Instead of focusing on any one of these topics that some authors spend careers focusing on Friedman decided to take all of them on at once. The effect of this being that he fails to give the reader anything substantial on any topic. He lumps all of these issues into one basket and then makes the case on how America can solve all of these issues and save the world again. Friedman only uses statistics that serve to prop up his weakly grounded arguments. His Malthusian view of growth is ignorant and outdated. Paragraph after paragraph contains biases towards non-western nations (the proverbial us and them) where he puts the worlds problems of terrorism, global warming and the ever increasing global middle class in an equation that has one answer. In his view these problems can be solved if America would stop using oil and revamp the economy towards clean energy. He fails to see any solution beyond the scope of "If America would do this...this would happen". He needs to step off the soap box and do actual research instead of regurgitating NY Times headlines.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Leone Davidson

    I'm not sure why I read books like this as they are scarier than any horror novel, and if I'd ever wanted children, I sure could NOT read them, as the future for the world's children is, indeed, a bleak one. Friedman makes the argument that species loss, deforestation, economic growth around the world, energy use, petropolitics, and global warming are all interconnected, and while he lays down in very specific terms a way we can deal with it all, the backbone it will take for the world's leaders I'm not sure why I read books like this as they are scarier than any horror novel, and if I'd ever wanted children, I sure could NOT read them, as the future for the world's children is, indeed, a bleak one. Friedman makes the argument that species loss, deforestation, economic growth around the world, energy use, petropolitics, and global warming are all interconnected, and while he lays down in very specific terms a way we can deal with it all, the backbone it will take for the world's leaders to do so seems in woefully short supply. And I had made this comment after reading HOT: Living the Next Fifty Years on Earth, by Mark Hertsgaard: those people inclined to read a book like this are already believers. The deniers, or those who just don't care, are not reading books like this, though they're the ones who need to read them. Nevertheless, I like Friedman's writing: "At the end of the day, no amount of investing, no amount of clean electrons, no amount of energy efficiency will save the natural world if we are not paying attention to it - if we are not paying attention to all the things that nature gives us for free: clean air, clean water, breathtaking vistas, mountains for skiing, rivers for fishing, oceans for sailing, sunsets for poets, and landscapes for painters." Beautifully said, and, especially in terms of viable solutions, a terrific book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    About half of this book did not age particularly well. It was published in 2009, so much of the information is a little outdated and a portion of the author's visions of the future did not come to pass. Nobody is talking about a hot, flat, and crowded world much, I imagine, to the author's chagrin since he used the phrase about a billion times throughout the book. Further, I have never heard anyone use the term E.C.E. (for Energy-Climate Era) as a dating system or discuss the First Law of Petrop About half of this book did not age particularly well. It was published in 2009, so much of the information is a little outdated and a portion of the author's visions of the future did not come to pass. Nobody is talking about a hot, flat, and crowded world much, I imagine, to the author's chagrin since he used the phrase about a billion times throughout the book. Further, I have never heard anyone use the term E.C.E. (for Energy-Climate Era) as a dating system or discuss the First Law of Petropolitics. However, by the time he got around to discussing the economics of carbon, the book became a lot more interesting. Most of the topics in the second half of half of the book were still relevant or at least recently historically accurate. So, if you can get through the first half of the book and you don't mind a touch of narcissism, this book might be for you. 3/5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    What Tomas Friedman has to say in this book is very important--and very interesting. He shows how the "green revolution" is important to much more than our environment. It is important as an opportunity for a new set of industries that is ready to be grabbed by the country with the best energy policies. It is important as a tool of foreign policy, for weakening the hold of tyrannical despots in oil-rich countries. However, Thomas Friedman's writing style is not first-class. It is too verbose, too What Tomas Friedman has to say in this book is very important--and very interesting. He shows how the "green revolution" is important to much more than our environment. It is important as an opportunity for a new set of industries that is ready to be grabbed by the country with the best energy policies. It is important as a tool of foreign policy, for weakening the hold of tyrannical despots in oil-rich countries. However, Thomas Friedman's writing style is not first-class. It is too verbose, too repetitive. A good editor should have cleaned up this book. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book; the ideas in the book are just too good to pass over.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Crank

    Tom Friedman applies his knowledge of the IT revolution and Middle Eastern petropolitics to the emerging world of cleantech, or, as he likes to call it, Energy Technology (ET). If you've been reading his columns since "The World is Flat" there isn't much new here, but he does synthesize it all very well. Each chapter is like a very long, well-reasoned op-ed, full of name dropping, matter-of-fact observation and trend spotting, which can really be read in any order. Tom Friedman applies his knowledge of the IT revolution and Middle Eastern petropolitics to the emerging world of cleantech, or, as he likes to call it, Energy Technology (ET). If you've been reading his columns since "The World is Flat" there isn't much new here, but he does synthesize it all very well. Each chapter is like a very long, well-reasoned op-ed, full of name dropping, matter-of-fact observation and trend spotting, which can really be read in any order.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Preston Kutney

    I didn't agree with everything in this book, however I think it is an excellent, engaging primer for a lot of important issues facing the country. I think that every informed person should read this book or at least be familiar with topics such as energy independence, alternative energy sources and environmental leadership and innovation, which are covered in this book. I didn't agree with everything in this book, however I think it is an excellent, engaging primer for a lot of important issues facing the country. I think that every informed person should read this book or at least be familiar with topics such as energy independence, alternative energy sources and environmental leadership and innovation, which are covered in this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    The more I read of this book, the less I liked it. First and foremost, it's pretty repetitive, particularly with regards to its catchphrase of a title. It's bad enough to be bludgeoned over the head with the phrase, "in a world that is hot, flat, and crowded" every few pages, but when you're 198 pages in, and you have to keep reiterating what those phrases mean (verbatim: "In a world that is hot--a world that is more and more affected by global warming..." ), perhaps they aren't as clever as you The more I read of this book, the less I liked it. First and foremost, it's pretty repetitive, particularly with regards to its catchphrase of a title. It's bad enough to be bludgeoned over the head with the phrase, "in a world that is hot, flat, and crowded" every few pages, but when you're 198 pages in, and you have to keep reiterating what those phrases mean (verbatim: "In a world that is hot--a world that is more and more affected by global warming..." ), perhaps they aren't as clever as you've led yourself to believe, Mr. Friedman. Or maybe your audience isn't as thick-headed as you think. And the book is like that with many of its other talking points as well, which becomes very tiresome after awhile. Plenty of other reviewers have covered the repetitiveness, the patronizing tone, and the outdated nature of Hot, Flat, and Crowded (this edition was written in 2009), but in skimming other people's thoughts, there's one glaring problem that I didn't really see anyone talking about: the scanty citations. In a nonfiction book, where the author is referencing a lot of data, you'd expect a corresponding number of footnotes or end notes...but it dawned on me about 50 pages in, that there aren't any. At all. Friedman will instead state that he talked to such-and-such a person, and give a date that he did so, or mention a paper and put the date it was published in parentheses, but this book has no comprehensive bibliography of sources from which he acquired this data. While some of the in-text parentheticals can point you in at least somewhat of the right direction, others feel inadequate--or are missing entirely. It lends the research a somewhat shoddy feel. This is exacerbated when you come across instances where Friedman makes assertions that are flat-out wrong, just to try and make a point. E.g. "We are the only species in this vast web of life that no animal or plant in nature depends on for its survival..." (p. 192) I know this book was written ten years ago, but search engines existed back then. Search engines he could have used to discover human whipworm, or Wuchereria bancrofti (https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/whipwor... and https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lymphat... respectively). If I found those two in a matter of minutes, I'm sure there are others. Here's another example: "Sorry, boys, but these are Mother Nature's dice. They are like those polyhedral dice in the game Dungeons & Dragons. They are twenty-sided, thirty-sided, even sixty-sided dice. Don't think that they can only come up twelve." (p. 154, emphasis mine) This is in reference to the idea that the severity of climate change is a crap shoot, with results between 2 and 12. The problem is, D&D doesn't use 30- or 60-sided dice. Yes, dice with that many sides technically exist, but I've played the game for decades, and they are not used here. This sounds petty, I know...until you think about it. It would have taken Friedman less than a minute of his time to look up what dice are used in D&D, but he either didn't, or saw that the largest die has twenty sides (not counting d100s, which are traditionally two ten-sided dice rolled together, though 100-sided dice do exist; they look like golf balls and not many people use them), and decided it didn't sound impressive enough, so he just made something up that to his ears, sounded more impactful. That is the problem, here. These two examples alone show that Friedman is more interested in appealing to the emotions of his readers, than in presenting a thorough, factual case. Maybe he's only willing to gloss over and fabricate things for the small details, while the bigger picture is ironclad...but maybe not. Either way, he's set the precedent for shoddy research with examples like these, which should cast a shadow on the rest of what he says--especially without adequately-cited sources. Ultimately, it was that aspect which proved to be the last straw for me. Say what you will about the age of the data presented, the author's tone and writing style, or the beating of dead horses--at the end of the day, if you're reading a nonfiction book, and you find yourself with legitimate reasons to doubt that what you're being told is actually true, you shouldn't give the author any more of your time. So I didn't.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Warren Benton

    America's oil addiction is funding extreme Islamist.  But we do not seem to care as long as when can still buy large trucks to drive to the grocery store in.    We could most likely name the 3 American Idol judges and not be able to name any American scientist. Pop-science is shunned upon So Scientist stay away from becoming popular.  One term that was used instead of Global Warming, was Global weirding, not just things warming up, but things like dandelions in January. This winter I had to cut my America's oil addiction is funding extreme Islamist.  But we do not seem to care as long as when can still buy large trucks to drive to the grocery store in.    We could most likely name the 3 American Idol judges and not be able to name any American scientist. Pop-science is shunned upon So Scientist stay away from becoming popular.  One term that was used instead of Global Warming, was Global weirding, not just things warming up, but things like dandelions in January. This winter I had to cut my grass 3 times.  That to me is weird when I used to not have to cut my grass after the last late fall cutting.   You can't protect it. There is too much money to be made tearing it down Petro-Dictatorship was something discussed in detail in the book.  When you have oil as a natural resource it usually does not promote innovation, equal rights, or really any creative thinking.  Someone makes a lot of money and then holds the rest of the population back. If the Government steps in and ups regulations it requires companies to adapt or die.  So instead of always looking at higher quality regulations as a bad thing companies should look at Regulations as a help.  It can knock out weaker competitors.  So if companies would start now on great more efficient technology, they would way ahead of the competition in years to come.   This book is in the top 8 best books I have ever read.  You would think it was all about stopping global warming by stopping gas-filled cars.  This is only part of the point of the book.  The main point of the book finding renewable energy.  Energy is something we will always need.  But how can we make energy more efficient, more sustainable, and more green.  How do we make the production and distribution of energy cleaner and the most efficient it can be?   One thing that America has more of than most countries is an Engage citizen so a point the Friedman makes is that you would think Conservatives would be the ones wanting to conserve the environment.  But it is always viewed as a liberal idea to want to save the environment.  Friedman thinks it is quite stupid that the environment is a political selling point, to begin with.  This should be a human selling point.  We don't want to use up all our resources now and have nothing for our grandkids.  

  28. 5 out of 5

    S.Ach

    Some believe that the danger of climate-change is real and imminent. It threatens to create havoc to mankind and all natural world. They try to paint such gory and dystopian future that intimidates even the strongest of people. Thomas L. Friedman is one of them. He devotes 400 odd pages with plethora of data talking about the cause, effect and potential solution to the climate change issues. He harps on repeatedly how in our globalized world (flat) at a time when the population is spilling over i Some believe that the danger of climate-change is real and imminent. It threatens to create havoc to mankind and all natural world. They try to paint such gory and dystopian future that intimidates even the strongest of people. Thomas L. Friedman is one of them. He devotes 400 odd pages with plethora of data talking about the cause, effect and potential solution to the climate change issues. He harps on repeatedly how in our globalized world (flat) at a time when the population is spilling over in large concentrated places (crowded) the natural resources are being exploited in a non-sustainable way causing unprecedented global warming (Hot). He also understands it is not the small acts of going-green (essential but not enough), but real large scale innovation (when the sustainable energy cost would be lesser than that from oil and coal ) and political will ( leadership from countries and corporates) would be essential to tackle the problem. Charity begins at home. Hence he calls out his fellow Americans to elect the right leadership that understands the threat and work towards its resolution collectively with other global leaders. That was in 2008. Thankfully, 8 years later, America rejected his words and his boring on-and-on-and-on exasperating exaggeration and elected this genius. The super-intelligent, super-smart, super-everything Donald J Trump. His brilliant mind could see through the conspiracy of Chinese manufactures to hurt the American Industry in the name of a hoax called Global Warming. Global warming is as big a myth as is world hunger. If not, how come it is so cold in here and how come we had a 5 course breakfast today morning, he and his intellectual friends argue. Extremely valid point. He exposed the hypocrisy of all the scientific community paid by the liberals (Libtards, if you will). He immediately withdrew from Paris Agreement and gave more power to American coal and fossil fuel industry. Finally, he gave voice to those forgotten voices – the American capitalists. Long live Trump, the savior, the messiah. The world as we know it will end soon. But the legacy of Trump will remain.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Johnston

    The world's population is growing and demanding energy. Lots and lots of energy. Energy still being produced from 'dirty' sources. Sources that are taking it's toll on the health of the worlds biodiversity. This book contains plenty of evidence that our species needs to stop mowing down rain forests and guzzling oil/coal. That ongoing strategies to immediately reduce carbon emissions and identify alternative sources of cheap, sustainable energy are required now if we wish to survive. Failure to ad The world's population is growing and demanding energy. Lots and lots of energy. Energy still being produced from 'dirty' sources. Sources that are taking it's toll on the health of the worlds biodiversity. This book contains plenty of evidence that our species needs to stop mowing down rain forests and guzzling oil/coal. That ongoing strategies to immediately reduce carbon emissions and identify alternative sources of cheap, sustainable energy are required now if we wish to survive. Failure to address this now and what we take for granted will be irreparable/irreversible. If this occurs then there will no further demands for a higher quality of life, as there will be no life. Its 10 years+ after the publication of this book and little has been achieved. Solutions are there but still governments are retarded and gutless in their decision making. It is time for them to step up to the plate and force the issue. Money and time needs to be sunk into research and development and have our current and future generation of thinkers focused on rebuilding what's is left of our home for us and every other species that lives on this planet.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I think that this is still an extremely important book. Unfortunately I read it about 10 years after it came out. I think that it should have been required reading for all of our congressmen and senators for the last 10 years. I think that our current president is acting in a fashion 180 degrees opposite to the policies that we need for our country to remain great and for our world to survive. This is a book about climate change and some of the things that we will need to do to mitigate it and in I think that this is still an extremely important book. Unfortunately I read it about 10 years after it came out. I think that it should have been required reading for all of our congressmen and senators for the last 10 years. I think that our current president is acting in a fashion 180 degrees opposite to the policies that we need for our country to remain great and for our world to survive. This is a book about climate change and some of the things that we will need to do to mitigate it and in the longer term reverse it. It talks about the political will to do things that will be unpopular in the short run but result in long term significant savings. It talks about changes that some other countries are a long way ahead of us in doing and what the economic costs of our delay will be. Friedman writes concisely and clearly. One of his points is that the best time to take action on this problem was 30 years ago. The second best time is now. The longer we delay, the worse the eventual outcome. Read the book. Re-read it and act now.

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