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Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (September 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615520201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615520206
  • ASIN: B002BWQ504
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (326 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description

Thomas L. Friedman’s phenomenal number-one bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see the world in a new way. In his brilliant, essential new book, Friedman takes a fresh and provocative look at two of the biggest challenges we face today: America’s surprising loss of focus and national purpose since 9/11; and the global environmental crisis, which is affecting everything from food to fuel to forests. In this groundbreaking account of where we stand now, he shows us how the solutions to these two big problems are linked--how we can restore the world and revive America at the same time.

Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” Already the earth is being affected in ways that threaten to make it dangerously unstable. In just a few years, it will be too late to fix things--unless the United States steps up now and takes the lead in a worldwide effort to replace our wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a strategy for clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation that Friedman calls Code Green.

This is a great challenge, Friedman explains, but also a great opportunity, and one that America cannot afford to miss. Not only is American leadership the key to the healing of the earth; it is also our best strategy for the renewal of America.

In vivid, entertaining chapters, Friedman makes it clear that the green revolution we need is like no revolution the world has seen. It will be the biggest innovation project in American history; it will be hard, not easy; and it will change everything from what you put into your car to what you see on your electric bill. But the payoff for America will be more than just cleaner air. It will inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time--nation-building in America--by summoning the intelligence, creativity, boldness, and concern for the common good that are our nation’s greatest natural 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.


Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria: Author One-to-One

Fareed Zakaria: Your book is about two things, the climate crisis and also about an American crisis. Why do you link the two?  Fareed Zakaria

Thomas Friedman: You're absolutely right--it is about two things. The book says, America has a problem and the world has a problem. The world's problem is that it's getting hot, flat and crowded and that convergence--that perfect storm--is driving a lot of negative trends. America's problem is that we've lost our way--we've lost our groove as a country. And the basic argument of the book is that we can solve our problem by taking the lead in solving the world's problem.

Zakaria: Explain what you mean by "hot, flat and crowded."

Friedman: There is a convergence of basically three large forces: one is global warming, which has been going on at a very slow pace since the industrial revolution; the second--what I call the flattening of the world--is a metaphor for the rise of middle-class citizens, from China to India to Brazil to Russia to Eastern Europe, who are beginning to consume like Americans. That's a blessing in so many ways--it's a blessing for global stability and for global growth. But it has enormous resource complications, if all these people--whom you've written about in your book, The Post American World--begin to consume like Americans. And lastly, global population growth simply refers to the steady growth of population in general, but at the same time the growth of more and more people able to live this middle-class lifestyle. Between now and 2020, the world's going to add another billion people. And their resource demands--at every level--are going to be enormous. I tell the story in the book how, if we give each one of the next billion people on the planet just one sixty-watt incandescent light bulb, what it will mean: the answer is that it will require about 20 new 500-megawatt coal-burning power plants. That's so they can each turn on just one light bulb!

Zakaria: In my book I talk about the "rise of the rest" and about the reality of how this rise of new powerful economic nations is completely changing the way the world works. Most everyone's efforts have been devoted to Kyoto-like solutions, with the idea of getting western countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. But I grew to realize that the West was a sideshow. India and China will build hundreds of coal-fire power plants in the next ten years and the combined carbon dioxide emissions of those new plants alone are five times larger than the savings mandated by the Kyoto accords. What do you do with the Indias and Chinas of the world?

Thomas FriedmanFriedman: I think there are two approaches. There has to be more understanding of the basic unfairness they feel. They feel like we sat down, had the hors d'oeuvres, ate the entrée, pretty much finished off the dessert, invited them for tea and coffee and then said, "Let's split the bill." So I understand the big sense of unfairness--they feel that now that they have a chance to grow and reach with large numbers a whole new standard of living, we're basically telling them, "Your growth, and all the emissions it would add, is threatening the world's climate." At the same time, what I say to them--what I said to young Chinese most recently when I was just in China is this: Every time I come to China, young Chinese say to me, "Mr. Friedman, your country grew dirty for 150 years. Now it's our turn." And I say to them, "Yes, you're absolutely right, it's your turn. Grow as dirty as you want. Take your time. Because I think we probably just need about five years to invent all the new clean power technologies you're going to need as you choke to death, and we're going to come and sell them to you. And we're going to clean your clock in the next great global industry. So please, take your time. If you want to give us a five-year lead in the next great global industry, I will take five. If you want to give us ten, that would be even better. In other words, I know this is unfair, but I am here to tell you that in a world that's hot, flat and crowded, ET--energy technology--is going to be as big an industry as IT--information technology. Maybe even bigger. And who claims that industry--whose country and whose companies dominate that industry--I think is going to enjoy more national security, more economic security, more economic growth, a healthier population, and greater global respect, for that matter, as well. So you can sit back and say, it's not fair that we have to compete in this new industry, that we should get to grow dirty for a while, or you can do what you did in telecommunications, and that is try to leap-frog us. And that's really what I'm saying to them: this is a great economic opportunity. The game is still open. I want my country to win it--I'm not sure it will.

Zakaria: I'm struck by the point you make about energy technology. In my book I'm pretty optimistic about the United States. But the one area where I'm worried is actually ET. We do fantastically in biotech, we're doing fantastically in nanotechnology. But none of these new technologies have the kind of system-wide effect that information technology did. Energy does. If you want to find the next technological revolution you need to find an industry that transforms everything you do. Biotechnology affects one critical aspect of your day-to-day life, health, but not all of it. But energy--the consumption of energy--affects every human activity in the modern world. Now, my fear is that, of all the industries in the future, that's the one where we're not ahead of the pack. Are we going to run second in this race?

Friedman: Well, I want to ask you that, Fareed. Why do you think we haven't led this industry, which itself has huge technological implications? We have all the secret sauce, all the technological prowess, to lead this industry. Why do you think this is the one area--and it's enormous, it's actually going to dwarf all the others--where we haven't been at the real cutting edge?

Continue reading the Q&A between Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria


From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Friedman (The World Is Flat) is still an unrepentant guru of globalism, despite the looming economic crisis attributable, in Friendman's view, to the U.S. having become a "subprime nation that thinks it can just borrow its way to prosperity." Friedman covers familiar territory (the need for alternate energy, conservation measures, recycling, energy efficiency, etc.) as a build-up to his main thesis: the U.S. market is the "most effective and prolific system for transformational innovation.... There is only one thing bigger than Mother Nature and that is Father Profit." While he remains ostensibly a proponent of the free market, he does not flinch from using the government to create conditions favorable to investment, such as setting a "floor price for crude oil or gasoline," and imposing a new gasoline tax ($5-$10 per gallon) in order to make investment in green technologies attractive to venture capitalists: "America needs an energy technology bubble just like the information technology bubble." To make such draconian measures palatable, Friedman poses a national competition to "outgreen" China, modeled on Kennedy's proposal to beat the Soviets to the moon, a race that required a country-wide mobilization comparable to the WWII war effort. Recognizing the looming threat of "petrodicatorship" and U.S. dependence on imported oil, this warning salvo presents a stirring and far-darker vision than Friedman's earlier books.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Thomas L. Friedman has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work with The New York Times, where he serves as the foreign affairs columnist. Read by everyone from small-business owners to President Obama, Hot, Flat, and Crowded was an international bestseller in hardcover. Friedman is also the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem (1989), The Lexus and the Olive Tree (1999), Longitudes and Attitudes (2002), and The World is Flat (2005). He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

I hope you will take the time to read this book.
James L. Fuqua
In essence, he said, America will clean your clock in clean energy technology in ways that will force you and the world to come to us.
Stephen Hage
You won't hang your clothes on the line in the sun.
Stephen C. Baer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

234 of 271 people found the following review helpful By John Zxerce on September 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Friedman writes on world population, the increase of the global middle class, and the growing energy crisis. All of this has contributed to a world that is in desperate need of an energy solution. The thing I like about Friedman's approach is he's optimistic and he's practical. His major points are...

-- The battle over green (energy) will define the first part of the 21st century, just like the battle over red (communism) defined the last half of the 20th century.
-- Everyone needs to accept that oil will never again be cheap...
-- Off-shore drilling may be a temporary fix, but it's not the long-term solution.
-- The fossil-fuel age will end only when we invent our way out of it...
-- The last big innovation in energy production was nuclear power half a century ago, which is an important component to solving our energy problem, but we need additional solutions...
-- In order to further real innovation we need people "throwing crazy dollars at every idea, in every garage, that we have 100,000 people trying 100,000 things, five of which might work, and two might be the next green Google."
-- Friedman emphasizes the practical side of green - "It's the incredible sense of opportunity here. It's not just about saving the polar bears. It's not just about saving three generations from climate change. It's also about rising to the greatest economic opportunity that's come along in a long, long, time."

In the end, he is asking for collaboration and innovation. Of course that begs the question - where does the money come from for all of this? It's always easy to point at the government, but when we look at where real economic solutions have come from it's most often private industry. I wish Friedman would have written on how governments can create environments were private industry is incentivized to create, invent, and discover. Even so, Friedman's book is a needed wake-up call.
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177 of 206 people found the following review helpful By Future Watch Writer on September 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Overall it's a good thing that Tom Friedman has taken up the cause of renewable energy. This book is a useful contribution to the national debate over energy policy.

The cause of renewable energy should not be a "political" issue. It's an issue that liberals and conservatives should work together on. Many conservatives concerned about our country's national security are already becoming strong supporters of renewable energy here in America. I don't agree with some of Tom Friedman's past views on economics but this book quite frankly is truly inspiring (particularly the last chapter) and sets a positive tone for people to work together.

A key part of the book is the last part, specifically the last two chapters. Here's where he gets to the heart of the problem, political leadership and government policy. On page 375 he states that the needed energy revolution "will never go to the scale we need as long as our energy policy remains so ad hoc, uncoordinated". On page 407 he again emphasizes the need for a major concentration of federal government power to meet the challenge.

In his interviews with top business executives such as the CEO of General Electric Friedman makes it very clear that America is not going to be able to unlock the power of private industry in an adequate manner unless there are major changes in U.S. government energy policies.

Some say this is "tampering with the free market" but people should be aware that in energy as in all too many aspects of global environmental policy, there really is no purely "free" market. There are already huge subsidies for various industries.

It's very encouraging that the cause of American energy independence is becoming a mainstream political goal.
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98 of 116 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sutter on September 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you're not yet convinced that climate change is real or needs urgent and radical attention, this vision of a flat world -- with America on top -- may be able to change your mind. Maybe, thanks to huge sales, this book will able to open a lot of minds that needed opening; and that would be a good thing. Unfortunately, it won't open them quite far enough. While faulting others for not confronting the tough issues around climate change, Thomas Friedman (TF) avoids many of them himself.

Other reviews summarize some of the book's main themes. This long review will deal with some of TF's more striking arguments, good and bad, that most others have not yet commented on.

A. GOOD POINTS

Some points I especially liked: It's great that TF is so explicit about his exasperation at magazine articles and books offering glib solutions like "205 easy ways to go green." He'd prefer our leaders "propose the one or two hard ways that could actually make a difference" (@ 400). His proposal for how a Presidential candidate might defend the idea of a carbon tax (@265f) is what we ought to be hearing now, instead of "Drill, baby, drill!" His description of why the US military is enthusiastic about going green (@ 317-322) is fascinating. And he bravely makes strong arguments that government regulation can be a good thing in appropriate circumstances.

B. THE POINT OF GOING GREEN IS ... REGIME CHANGE?

One curious feature of TF's argument is its emphasis on America's going green as a means of promoting change in other countries. TF's "Laws of Petropolitics" (Ch. 4) purport to show how "freedom" (or sometimes "the pace of freedom" (@96)) in certain oil-producing countries waxes and wanes inversely with the price of oil.
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