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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 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.

438 pages, Hardcover

First published September 8, 2008

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About the author

Thomas L. Friedman

53 books1,643 followers
Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and, columnist—the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of six bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat.

Thomas Loren Friedman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on July 20, 1953, and grew up in the middle-class Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He is the son of Harold and Margaret Friedman. He has two older sisters, Shelley and Jane.

In January 1995, Friedman took over the New York Times Foreign Affairs column. “It was the job I had always aspired to,” he recalled. “I had loved reading columns and op-ed articles ever since I was in high school, when I used to wait around for the afternoon paper, the Minneapolis Star, to be delivered. It carried Peter Lisagor. He was a favorite columnist of mine. I used to grab the paper from the front step and read it on the living room floor.”

Friedman has been the Times‘s Foreign Affairs columnist since 1995, traveling extensively in an effort to anchor his opinions in reporting on the ground. “I am a big believer in the saying ‘If you don’t go, you don’t know.’ I tried to do two things with the column when I took it over. First was to broaden the definition of foreign affairs and explore the impacts on international relations of finance, globalization, environmentalism, biodiversity, and technology, as well as covering conventional issues like conflict, traditional diplomacy, and arms control. Second, I tried to write in a way that would be accessible to the general reader and bring a broader audience into the foreign policy conversation—beyond the usual State Department policy wonks. It was somewhat controversial at the time. So, I eventually decided to write a book that would explain the framework through which I was looking at the world. It was a framework that basically said if you want to understand the world today, you have to see it as a constant tension between what was very old in shaping international relations (the passions of nationalism, ethnicity, religion, geography, and culture) and what was very new (technology, the Internet, and the globalization of markets and finance). If you try to see the world from just one of those angles, it won’t make sense. It is all about the intersection of the two.”

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,523 reviews
Profile Image for Ian.
86 reviews
February 20, 2009
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.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,712 reviews636 followers
January 5, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Ray.
1,047 reviews46 followers
October 27, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Marit.
378 reviews52 followers
December 3, 2008
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.
Profile Image for SachChuyenTay.
97 reviews275 followers
December 23, 2017
Thomas L. Friedman cùng với Nóng, Phẳng, Chật là cuốn sách nhắc mình nhớ lại rằng việc đọc nonfic mới vui thú làm sao! Và thế là 4* cho nội dung và 1* cho niềm vui mà cuốn sách này mang lại trong mỗi giờ/ngày trong suốt một tuần qua ^^

Nhân tiện số 1, vì cả nước đang rôm rả bàn việc cải tổ chữ viết tiếng Việt, mình cũng xin thỏ thẻ góp MỘT ý kiến là phải chăng ta nên thay cách viết "Nóng" trên tựa sách bằng "Nống" vì nó gợi bức bối, oi nồng, nồng nặc, khó chịu,... và nghe nóng nảy hơn hẳn từ cũ :))) Hy vọng sang năm thì mọi người sẽ quan tâm nhiều đến việc thay thế nguyên liệu hóa thạch bằng nguyên liệu sạch và để cho Tiếng Việt của tôi (CỦA TÔI) yên!

Nhân tiện số 2, với những ai, như mình, bị tổn thương tâm lý sau khi đọc sách của Jared Diamond, bởi một đống giả thiết kèm cả núi dữ liệu khô khan thu lượm từ khắp năm châu và suốt bốn ngàn năm lịch sử loài người thì Nóng, Phẳng, Chật... sẽ cho bạn một hy vọng, rằng: Vẫn còn nhiều tác giả viết về các vấn đề vĩ mô mà không làm người đọc lịm đi trong ảo giác rằng mình đang trở lại giảng đường đại học với một ông giáo sư uyên bác nhấn đầu sinh viên trong 30 chục cái giả thuyết về MỘT chủ đề to lớn nào đó rồi hỏi: Em nghĩ cái lào đúng và tại sao?
Một số nhà giáo dục học sẽ bảo đấy là "khuyến kích óc sáng tạo và phản biện", mình thì gọi là "có vấn đề về logic và trình b ày" :sss Sao Sensei không nói toẹt ra ý kiến chủ quan của mình để chúng em còn biết mà chặt chém, hở? =='' Ít ra thì trong Nóng, Phẳng, Chật,... Friedman cũng đã thẳng thắn về chuyện cá nhân mình nghĩ như thế nào về vấn đề này hay vấn đề nọ!
Mà ông chú Thomas L. Friedman không chỉ biết cách trình bày vấn đề một cách nhẹ nhàng và dễ hiểu đâu, ổng còn dí dỏm nữa cơ! Với một độc giả quan tâm đến môi trường nhưng vẫn thản nhiên ngồi đọc sách trên con xe hàng thải đốt mấy chục lít dầu (nguyên liệu hóa thạch!) rồi xả khói đen ngòm hay nằm đọc sách trong cái lạnh giả tạo phà ra từ thiết bị làm lạnh ngốn hàng đống Kilowat điện (điện than!) thì chất tự trào trong mỗi chương là yếu tố cần thiết giữ lương tâm mình không quá day dứt mà đi biểu tình khỏa thân...

Sách gồm 5 phần lớn, 3 phần đầu chính trình bày về Biến đổi khí hậu, Sự ấm lên toàn cầu (phải dịch là "ấm" cho trung tính và bám sát TA nhé các bạn của tôi, chứ dịch thành "nóng" thì người ta lại bảo Tiếng Việt là ngôn ngữ của cảm tính đấy!), Gia tăng dân số kéo theo nạn thiếu lương thực, năng lượng và chỗ ở,... theo trình tự chuẩn của một bài tiểu luận khoa học với "Thực trạng - Nguyên nhân - Giải pháp":
Phần I: Chúng ta đang ở đâu?
1. Nơi chim trời không bay qua
2. Hôm nay: Ngày 1 Kỷ nguyên Năng lượng - Khí hậu Thời tiết: nóng, phẳng, chật
Phần II: Tại sao chúng ta lại ở đây?
3. Bản sao của chúng ta (hay: Có quá nhiều người Mỹ)
4. Hãy đổ đầy bình xăng và làm cho thế giới bị thống trị bởi dầu mỏ
5. Sự bất  thường của Trái đất
6. Kỷ nguyên của Noah
7. Nghèo năng lượng
8. Xanh là màu quốc kỳ mới
Phần III: Chúng ta đi tiếp như thế nào?
9. 205 cách dễ làm để cứu lấy Trái Đất
10. Internet năng lượng
11. Thời đồ đá kết thúc không phải vì hết đá
12. Nếu không nhàm chán thì không "xanh"
13. Một triệu Noah, một triệu con tàu
14. Chiến thắng xanh al-Qaeda (hay mua một tặng bốn)

Từ phương diện cá nhân thì hầu hết kiến thức về biến đổi khí hậu, ứng dụng IT, thế giới phẳng, cách mạng công nghiệp 4.0 được nêu ra trong cuốn sách này đều không có gì mới. Là vì dạo gần đây mình đọc các Kỉ yếu hội thảo về CM Công nghiệp 4.0 và Biến đổi khí hậu nhiều đến phát ớn luôn. Tuy nhiên, mình tin là Friedman đã tìm được cách trình bày có thể dọa người đọc "sợ chết khiếp"! (Có nhà hoạt động môi trường nào nảy ra sáng kiến dí súng vào đầu Trumph để ép ổng đọc hết cuốn này chưa nhỉ?). Không chỉ dừng lại ở những con số thống kê (mà khoa học đã chứng minh là não bộ con người không mấy cảm tình với số má), tác giả đưa ra nhiều hình ảnh ví von cũng như những câu chuyện cụ thể. Trong 100 trang đầu, dù là người Mỹ hay đang người đang khát khao cái thẻ xanh, tất cả chúng ta đều có cảm giác tay mình đang nhuốm máu của mẹ Tự nhiên. Người Mỹ "ĐỎ" từ móng tay đến tận nách, người Việt Nam (và công dân các quốc gia đang phát triển khác) đã kịp đỏ đến tận cổ tay, người Trung Quốc thì vẫn đang nhồm nhoàm xực mọi thứ nên không quan tâm xem tay mình "XANH" hay "ĐỎ" :|

Nói vậy chứ có một phần khá thú vị và mới mẻ về địa chính trị, khi mà tác giả phân tích được mối "nghiệt duyên" giữa Mỹ - dầu mỏ - khủng bố hay Mỹ đã tài trợ "gián tiếp" cho al-Qaeda như thế nào. Thật ra mình đã từng nghe vài người nói đến vấn đề này nhưng mình cứ tưởng là Mỹ rót tiền một cách "trực tiếp" cho tất cả các phe vì Mỹ muốn các bên có đủ tiền để kiềm chế lẫn nhau cũng như tránh việc bị Nga mua chuộc :)))

Hóa ra, đằng sau cái mác "Anh Cả" cùng với "Giấc mơ Mỹ" thì người Mĩ cũng có lắm cái... "khổ tâm"- khổ từ người dân béo phì tới mức đi bộ cũng khó khăn cho đến giới chính khách, khổ từ các tập đoàn sản xuất muốn bám lấy nguyên liệu hóa thạch cho đến các công ty đầu tư cho công nghệ sản xuất nhiên liệu sạch. Chứng nghiện dầu mỏ (rẻ tiền) không chỉ khiến Mỹ kẹt trong một mối tình đơn phương đau thương với Ả rập Xê út "Sợ Ả tăng giá dầu, Sợ Ả giảm giá dầu, Sợ nhất là Ả bán dầu rồi tài trợ cho khủng bố..." mà còn dẫn tới việc trao cho Nga (đối trọng kinh tế - chính trị lớn nhất của Mỹ) quyền lực nhất định vì đây là cũng là quốc gia có sản lượng khai thác và cung cấp dầu thô lớn lớn nhất thế giới ngoài OPEC.
Câu trả lời cho toàn bộ các vấn đề của nước Mỹ và loài người (trừ người Hồi giáo) là #botmuadaumotuTrungDong :3 và tác giả sẽ cố phân tích lý do tại sao người Mỹ không muốn làm thế- theo quan điểm của mình. Cách nhìn của Friedman có thể là phiến diện nhưng, nói thế nào nhỉ, dù sao thì ông ấy cũng "got the point" của một công dân Mỹ chính tông không hề ủng hộ chủ nghĩa Cộng sản :)))

Hai phần cuối của sách gọi tên Á quân và Quán quân trên bảng xếp hạng phát thải khí nhà kính của Thế giới: Phần 4. Trung Quốc và Phần 5. Mỹ. Vì không phải là người sắp có quốc tịch Mỹ và người Hoa nên các chương trong hai phần này ném trả bản thân về đúng vị trí hiện tại của mình: một "công dân hay tâm tư" của một nước bé xíu và nghèo và xuất khẩu dầu thô đang là một kênh thu ngoại tệ đáng kể. Với bài toán về Thay thế năng lượng hóa thạch bằng Năng lượng tái chế hay là Chủ động hòa mình vào xu hướng đúng đắn của nhân loại, Việt Nam không có CỬA để giơ tay trả lời :|

Việc "đi tắt đón đầu" có v�� chỉ dễ thực hiện với các trào lưu văn hóa nửa mùa và dễ copy, trong khi cuộc Cách mạng Xanh mà tác giả đề cập trong sách lại yêu cầu khá nhiều thay đổi to lớn: sự thay đổi triệt để trong tầm nhìn phát triển kinh tế của giới chóp bu, sự nhận thức của người dân trong giai đo���n đầu, sự đầu tư tư bản cực kỳ lớn... Mình có cái nhìn khá "bi quan" khi đối chiếu những yêu cầu trên với hiện trạng của Việt Nam. Không có đâu một cuộc Cách mạng "dễ dàng"! Và nếu anh Hai Hoa Kỳ phải tốn nhiều thời gian đến như vậy (Nhân loại sắp bước sang năm 10 sau E.C.E và tình hình thậm chí còn tệ hơn rất nhiều so với lúc cuốn sách này được bắt đầu viết) thì các động thái hữu ích mà một công dân Việt Nam có thể làm được là bớt đi bát phố bằng xe máy và hạn chế sử dụng túi nilong,... Kiểu vậy!
Mình nghĩ đến người Việt Nam với hình ảnh của một anh chàng cả ngày cố nhồi nhét hàng đống protein thô hoặc tinh chế để chiều về còn đi tập gym nhưng vẫn gọi dịch vụ ship cơm trưa đến tận phòng vì "ngại" đi bộ 100m ra quán ăn :sss
Chúng ta - với nhiều nguyên nhân đặc thù về lịch sử, văn hóa, chính trị - chỉ thích hợp với các cuộc Cách mạng vũ trang yêu cầu nhân dân ta phải đổ sức và đổ máu luôn cơ?!

Ps: Nói thêm một chút vềgu "Fried humour" của mình. Trong một chương nào đó, tác giả có trích dẫn lại lời của một nhà khoa học kiêm nhà hoạt động vì môi trường, đại ý: Khi còn nhỏ, mẹ anh sẽ hỏi "Sau này con muốn làm gì?" và anh sẽ trả lời: "Con muốn thay đổi thế giới!" nhưng một người mẹ (hiểu biết về môi trường) sẽ nói lại rằng: Nhưng chúng ta ĐÃ THAY ĐỔI thế giới rồi!"
Mẹ mình mà nghe thấy mình trả lời "Muốn thay đổi thế giới" thay vì "Kiếm thật nhiều tiền cho mẹ" thì mẹ mình cắt quà sáng ngay, nhưng câu chuyện này làm mình nhớ đến bài hát xôm tụ mình thích trong InuYasha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4Pzf...
và thấy buồn cười kinh :]]]]]]]

Nếu bạn không thấy câu chuyện trên buồn cười thì rất chia buồn, bạn vẫn nên đọc Nống, phẳng, chật:... (vì nó hay phết và mình đề xuất tựa này cho bất kỳ ai quan tâm đến các vấn đề có liên quan) nhưng là đọc trong nhọc nhằn :">

*Rv của bạn T.T không đọc tiểu thuyết diễm tình mà đi đọc sách khoa học, không đi chơi Giáng sinh mà ngồi nhà viết rv*
Profile Image for Joe.
178 reviews93 followers
July 12, 2021
After half a dozen false starts, I still lacked a clever way to summarize Friedman's environmental opus; Hot, Flat and crowded. Then I discovered that I'd marked ten passages of particular illumination. So with apologies to David Letterman:

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..." Reporting from the year 2021, China's population growth slowed and stands a little over 1.4 billion

#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 Conservation 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.

Edited 7/12/2021
Profile Image for Darrick.
176 reviews
December 5, 2008
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.
443 reviews18 followers
October 11, 2008
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.
Profile Image for J TC.
130 reviews7 followers
August 30, 2022
Thomas L Friedman - Quente, Plano e Cheio

Recensão em dois pensamentos:
“Cada vez que enche o depósito de combustíveis está a subsidiar e a financiar países com regimes autocráticos e a exportação do terrorismo”.
“A ética, enquanto conjunto de conhecimentos, sentimentos e impulsos interiores que modelam o nosso comportamento, a nossa postura perante o planeta e a preservação de toda a vida, seja qual a forma com que esta se manifeste, deverá impelir-nos para uma conduta mais responsável para com estes valores e levar-nos a abraçar as necessárias modificações do nosso estilo de vida para que possamos legar às gerações futuras um mundo pelo menos semelhante ao que fomos incumbidos de preservar. Um mundo que respeite os oceanos, que não esteja contaminado por químicos e outros poluentes, um mundo onde a biodiversidade não seja afetada pela actividade humana, um mundo pintado com as cores de rios, mares, montanhas, vales, glaciares, calotes polares, recifes de corais e toda a maravilhosa euritmia de vida, desde o mais simples procariota ao mamífero mais complexo, que um dia, há muitos milhares de anos, levou, a que um sapiens olhasse, para cima, para a vastidão vizinha e para dentro de si, e maravilhado com tanta beleza, proporção e equilíbrio, achasse que só um ser magnífico seria capaz de conceber tamanha ordem e harmonia”.

1ª Parte
Para os com um pouco mais disponíveis:
No seu livro “Quente, Plano e Cheio – porque precisamos de uma revolução verde”, Thomas L Friedman aponta-nos as causas do desastre ecológico em curso. Uma catástrofe ocorrida num período conhecido por “Antropoceno” e durante o qual ocorrerá a destruição de grande parte da vida no planeta, pelo menos da vida na forma como a conhecemos. Este processo é habitualmente centrado (e muitas vezes utilizado como sinónimo) a alterações climáticas (aqui o autor refere que devemos abandonar o termo “aquecimento global” por ser demasiado doce e não traduzir os efeitos catastróficos que se vislumbram). Mas o que aí vêm não se resume às alterações climáticas. A equação da catástrofe tem também de incluir a perda de biodiversidade (acelerada em cerca de 1000x em relação ao que é o equilíbrio entre perda e aparecimento de novas espécies), na redução qualitativa e quantitativa de solos aráveis e consequentemente de alimentos, na disponibilidade de água potável, na diversidade e abundância de vida nos oceanos, nas assimetrias sociais para uma e entre sociedades, no aumento da poluição, na escassez de recursos (incluindo os dos combustíveis fósseis) e nas crises por isso desencadeadas, energéticas e no aumento e maior disseminação de pragas e epidemias. Neste cenário escrito em 2007 e publicado em 2008, o autor descreve bem, e com muita antevisão, os adjectivos que actualmente determinam e caracterizam os nossos tempos, i.e., um mundo, Quente, Plano e Cheio. Apesar da descrição estar bem resumida no título, a ordem dos factores está pervertida pois tudo começa num mundo que está “cheio” e cujas consequências foram agravadas pela globalização (plano). Quente, é o resultado destes dois factores.
Cheio, porque estamos num mundo superpovoado. Superpovoado em termos globais com cerca de 8 biliões se seres humanos (7 biliões em inícios de 2000, a atingir os 8 biliões este ano) e com o dia de sobrecarga do planeta em 2021 atingido em 29 de julho. Além do excesso de população o autor identifica e salienta que a distribuição assimetria das populações na ocupação do planeta, seja motivos ambientais, geográficos ou de geopolítica, levou ao advento dos mega agregados com mais de 15 milhões de habitantes. Estas megapolis nunca conseguirão ser localmente sustentáveis, necessitando para sua subsistência, sugar e predar os meios de outras regiões, secando-lhes os recursos e tornando-as estéreis. Esta assimetria da distribuição das populações, para além deste fenómeno de sucção dos recursos por capilaridade, é ainda agravado pelo facto destas “megapolis” serem ainda um polo atrativo para os menos favorecidos de regiões pobres económica e ecologicamente.
Esta pobreza económica e ecológicas resulta em parte da pressão de exploração, mas é também agravada por fenómenos climáticos de eventos extremos, sejam secas, sejam inundações, os quais pressionam e legitimam todo um conjunto de espectativas que num mundo “Plano”, levam a que as pessoas tentem sair do Loop de pobreza em que se encontram.
Como diz o autor, há alguns anos a vida fora dos centros de maior desenvolvimento, onde as comodidades disponibilizadas por uma sociedade de consumo era aceite pelos habitantes das regiões mais desfavorecidas como uma inevitabilidade, mas também como algo de bucólico que remontava à antiga ligação do homem às vastidões onde viveu durante mais de 100.000 anos antes de inventar o sedentarismo e expandir a sua rede de dependências. Se tudo isto tendia a manter as populações na sua geografia de origem, com o aplanamento do globo e das barreiras geográficas este mundo desapareceu. E num mundo plano a miséria energética, de recursos, ambiental ou outra, impeliu as populações a tudo fazerem para cumprir o que entendem ser as suas espectativas de felicidade, podendo estas ser apenas ter energia para cozinhar, água potável para as necessidades básicas, segurança física e moral para si e para os seus, e, no fim, se possível, poderem participar no “grande festim do consumismo”. Tudo isto resulta na migração das populações para os grandes centros urbanos, e a uma crescente fuga das populações de largas parcelas do planeta que cada vez mais vão ficando despovoadas e que só por terem sido objeto de um desgaste para além do ponto de retorno, não são de novo invadidas pela vida na sua forma anterior à acção do homem.
Há assim uma série de tendências que impelem a humanidade para um crescimento assimétrico da população, o qual interage com outras variáveis identificadas elas também como causa do Antropoceno, criando mecanismos de retroalimentação positiva numa sinergia de destruição da qual vai ser difícil libertarmo-nos.

Citando Eduard O.Wilson, a nossa civilização é um misto de emoções pré-históricas, visão medieval com uma tecnologia quase divina. Se o nosso comportamento resulta na exaustão de recursos, foi a nossa tecnologia que transformou o nosso mundo, num lugar “Plano” em que tudo é muito semelhante, em que tudo é global. Esta globalização se facilita a inovação é também responsável por um consumismo crescente e uma necessidade de crescimento económico para sobreviver. Funciona como um comboio em alta velocidade, que protege todos quantos se encontram no compartimento, e participam da cinética do movimento. Todos quantos não participam, e os que ainda que por breves instantes percam a influencia da cinética estão irremediavelmente condenados. É por isso que o modelo nunca é verdadeiramente contestado, é para que a cinética do crescimento e a espiral do consumismo não seja beliscada. E se a vida é difícil para os que por alguns instantes param para refletir, muito mais complicada é para aqueles que pretendem apanhar este comboio em aceleração contínua.
No adjectivo, o “plano” e de “globalização”, T Friedman aponta-nos para as inovações tecnológicas, como o computador pessoal e a World Wide Web, como o principal motor do aplanamento global. Mas outros há como a quebra das diferenças ideológicas e a abertura de fronteiras após a queda do muro de Berlin em 1989 que contribuíram sem dúvida para a globalização e para criar espectativas de melhoria das suas condições de vida em 1,5 biliões de pessoas que viviam com menos de dois dólares/dia (dados de 2008) e todas as outras que não do primeiro mundo, a pretendiam para si o mesmo modo de vida do mundo ocidental, e por isso, um padrão de consumo semelhante. Mas não há recursos disponíveis e o equilíbrio ecológico estabelecido após a última grande extinção há 66 milhões de anos dá-nos desde há algumas décadas sinais inequívocos de disrupção.
Se para um mundo com actuais assimetrias os recursos disponíveis rondam cerca de 50% para o que é consumido, no mundo para que caminhamos e que os países em desenvolvimento exigem (vejam-se as conclusões do COP26), com a humanidade a ter como padrão o consumo americano, cinco planetas não são suficientes.
E é porque o mundo “Cheio” e “Plano”, tem consequências, que estas se refletem no terceiro adjectivo proposto pelo autor, i.e., “Quente”.
Num mundo cada vez mais povoado de seres humanos cada vez mais dependente do crescimento económico para a sua própria sobrevivência (pelo menos é nisso que acreditam), que o resultado está à vista – um aumento global da temperatura média do planeta, alterações climáticas que se manifestam num conjunto de acontecimentos descritos como eventos extremos, e os outros que provavelmente ainda estão para vir.
Numa lógica de interdependência, em que nenhum efeito têm uma única e exclusiva causa, e em que a multi-factoriedade é acompanhada de fenómenos de retroalimentação positiva, as consequências finais para o planeta são: a subida dos níveis das águas, o degelo de glaciares e calotes polares, o aquecimento dos oceanos, e ainda, inundações, secas, pragas, diminuição da produção agrícola, incêndios, deflorestação (a qual é nos nossos dias responsável por 20% do aumento dos níveis de CO2). E como se esta desgraça não bastasse todos estes fenómenos interagem ainda uns com os outros num conjunto de ciclos de retroalimentação positiva em que se torna difícil prever as consequências e a sua magnitude a longo prazo.
Um mundo plano e cheio, não pode ser senão quente porque para se manter sem convulsões sociais depende de factores indissociáveis como um crescimento económico e populacional contínuo, do aumento igualmente contínuo no consumo de combustíveis fósseis, e para que estes se articulem potenciando o crescimento económico, tudo se deve desenvolver num mundo cada vez mais global. Somos viciados em gasolina e deste nosso vício resultam não só o aumento médio da temperatura global do planeta, mas também consequências geopolíticas, que, como diz o autor, se traduzem numa estreita relação entre o preço dos combustíveis (potenciado por uma procura crescente numa economia que energeticamente nunca foi eficiente) e o financiamento de regimes ditatoriais ou terroristas de cujos petrodólares depende a sua sobrevivência enquanto regimes opacos, mas também a exportação e instigação de organizações terroristas. Quanto mais caro o preço do barril de petróleo, maior a sua capacidade de opressão interna e maior a exportação do terrorismo - “cada vez que enche o depósito de combustíveis está a subsidiar e a financiar a exportação do terrorismo”.
Num mundo quente, plano e cheio é difícil intervir e mudar o rumo dos acontecimentos. Como muito bem frisa o autor, não há soluções milagrosas nem fáceis. Todas elas são difíceis e implicam sacrifícios. Quando alguém lhe vier impingir a ideia de haver alternativas fáceis, desconfie sempre, pois uma revolução sem sacrifícios não é uma revolução, é uma festa. Citando Mao Tzé Tung “A revolução não é um jantar de festa, nem um ensaio, nem uma pintura, nem um bordado, não pode avançar devagar, gradualmente, com cuidado, com consideração, com respeito, polidamente, de forma simples e modesta”.
E de uma revolução se trata porque não há soluções mágicas. Não há medidas que isoladamente sejam capazes reverter um sistema todo ele carregado de retroalimentações positivas. É necessário mudar-se o paradigma, para o que é necessária uma abordagem sistemática, uma mudança de sistema, uma revolução.
Segundo T Friedman esta abordagem sistémica tem de se apoiar nas energias “verdes”, i.e., que não promovam emissão de gazes com efeito de estufa; numa melhor eficiência energética das fontes emissoras disponíveis; e num conceito ético da nossa relação com o ambiente e a natureza. Se as duas primeiras dependem dos governos, a última é única e exclusivamente da responsabilidade do cidadão comum.
A ética, enquanto conjunto de conhecimentos, sentimentos e impulsos interiores que modelam o nosso comportamento e a nossa postura perante o planeta e a preservação de toda a vida existente, seja qual a forma em que esta se manifesta, deverá impelir-nos para uma conduta mais responsável para com estes valores, e levar-nos a abraçar as necessárias modificações ao nosso estilo de vida para que possamos legar às gerações futuras um mundo semelhante ao que fomos incumbidos de preservar. Um mundo que respeite os oceanos, que não esteja contaminado por químicos e outros poluentes, um mundo onde a biodiversidade não seja afetada pela actividade humana, um mundo pintado com as cores de rios, mares, montanhas, vales, glaciares, calotes polares, recifes de corais e toda a maravilhosa euritmia de vida, desde o mais simples procariota ao mamífero mais complexo, que um dia, há muitos milhares de anos, levou a que um sapiens olhasse para cima, para a vastidão vizinha e para dentro de si, e maravilhado com tanta beleza, proporção e ordem, achasse que só um ser magnífico seria capaz de conceber tamanha ordem e harmonia.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
November 30, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Arminius.
205 reviews50 followers
December 5, 2012
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.

Profile Image for Adam McCain.
8 reviews3 followers
January 10, 2012
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.
Profile Image for brian tanabe.
387 reviews28 followers
March 16, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Donna.
335 reviews12 followers
August 2, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Michel.
402 reviews133 followers
October 23, 2008
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.
170 reviews45 followers
January 17, 2017
"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.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
October 27, 2013
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.
Profile Image for A Man Called Ove.
900 reviews217 followers
February 5, 2018
"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.
Profile Image for Bá Hoàng.
96 reviews33 followers
June 11, 2018
Sách rất hay cho những ai quan tâm đến môi trường.
Profile Image for Justin.
587 reviews7 followers
May 12, 2019
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.
Profile Image for David.
Author 5 books23 followers
August 9, 2009
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!

Profile Image for Ariel.
117 reviews5 followers
October 23, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Theresa Leone Davidson.
641 reviews30 followers
May 27, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Robert.
100 reviews
February 29, 2016
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.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
801 reviews2,519 followers
April 25, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Crank.
12 reviews3 followers
May 26, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Preston Kutney.
217 reviews29 followers
September 23, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Warren Benton.
499 reviews19 followers
April 19, 2018
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.  
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