Time to Wake Up, Global Consumers
Thomas L. Friedman: Hot, Flat and Crowded, the world needs a green revolution – and how we can renew our global future
Pulitzer Prize winner Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded (2009) discusses risks, flawed accounting and distorted thinking in the fields of environment and economics. Friedman’s book formulates a frighteningly clear perception of today’s complex world and its larger than life problems.
The core argument of the book is that the world has two problems; climate change and population growth. Climate change affects all and population growth sets limits for our consumerism. Chasing high living standards around the globe has resulted in a world which is hot, flat and crowded. In order to provide the needed and wanted quality of life, we must develop a new strategy. It should be mainly focused on energy sources and changes in consumer behavior. Luckily, there is also economic potential hidden in the process.
Friedman initially paints a grim picture of the future; a time when weather is the main news and unpredictable reactions of the climate limit and challenge our existence. Energy supply and demand, petropolitics, loss of biodiversity and energy poverty are the most crucial issues we will be faced with due to exponentially growing populations and lack of options.
The author explains well the political and economic issues relating to these problems. He also succeeds in explaining the most relevant connections between the green revolution and politics, such as the negative correlation between oil prize and democracy in the Middle East, and how to create jobs which contribute to sustainable living. From these the author moves on to our options for a better future. The book excels in grasping and pointing out where our focus as consumers should be and where we go wrong in our thinking.
There are no fast solutions to climate change. In the process he launches many new exiting terms, such as energy-climate era, the re-generation, the energy internet, etc. He puts forward many usable ‘green ideas’ worth looking into and the future is discussed widely and openly. Author’s fresh, objective approach lasts throughout the book.
The book is written from an American to the American reader, one clear goal is to ‘wake up America’. Although not everyone else is up either, it is suitable for international audiences. The ideas put forward by the author might appear a bit too ambitious in some parts, but there is significant value in his attempt to sketch out the entire global climate scenario. He uses numerous real-life examples instead of theoretical references, and his focus is kept on concrete and understandable issues. He discusses different aspects of climate change fairly, and is able to make a convincing argument for the ‘Code Green’, i.e. true green revolution. He discusses problems thoroughly and in-depth.
The book is long and the core argument could have been presented in a book half the length of this one, but it wouldn’t have been as convincing or interesting to read.
Friedman’s ability to write quality infotainment is what makes this book a great read for most audiences. The author’s train of thought is interesting to follow and it doesn’t take an expert to understand the message of the book. This book is highly recommended to anyone looking for profound analysis and fresh perspectives to climate change’s concrete global political and economic effects.