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Hot, Flat and Crowded

July 15, 2009


Here’s a book that should be mandatory reading for all humans, especially those with a conscience and in positions of power (or is that an oxymoron?). The premise of the book is simple: resource depletion, global warming, population growth, imbalances in energy distribution, the effects of globalization, and the explosive growth developing nations (a.k.a. the BRICs) are all factors combining to form a perfect storm of planetary destruction. Unless we get off the couch and lead a revolution in new energy technology. The first half paints a doomsday scenario, while the second half, notably, discusses solutions, some of which are already underway. The main takeaway, though, is that we – the United States in particular – are not doing nearly enough, and time is running out. In some arenas, China is already doing much more than we are to incentivize green practices.

Already, some of the action called for by Friedman is coming to pass, as in the recent Clean Energy bill. (Incidentally, I happened across this video appeal by Al Gore around the time of the House vote, and goddamn if he hasn’t morphed into a televangelist.) Aside from a somewhat repetitive and dumbed-down writing style – one can almost overhear Friedman and his editor discussing their no-reader-left-behind strategy – this is a magnificent read that, if it does not make you rethink your lifestyle and priorities, will at least leave you considering a move to Germany.

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