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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read
Tom Friedman's book is a journalistic tour de force. He has been everywhere, it seems, and interviewed everyone who matters in doing his research. With that engaging style we are used to from his columns, he confronts here the biggest issues facing our nation and the planet. The book is essentially in two parts; a diagnosis, and a proposed cure. The first section is one...
Published on December 13, 2009 by Martin N. Pettet

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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Friedman takes a long walk to make a short but critical point
NY Times columnist Tom Friedman has written some of the more important current events books of the last twenty years. This effort is a spin-off of his (so far) magnum opus, "The World is Flat." In that book, Friedman chronicled the dizzying array of changes that technology, demographics, and the fall of communism have unleashed upon the world. The message - the world...
Published on May 28, 2010 by Scott Schiefelbein


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Friedman takes a long walk to make a short but critical point, May 28, 2010
By 
Scott Schiefelbein (Portland, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
NY Times columnist Tom Friedman has written some of the more important current events books of the last twenty years. This effort is a spin-off of his (so far) magnum opus, "The World is Flat." In that book, Friedman chronicled the dizzying array of changes that technology, demographics, and the fall of communism have unleashed upon the world. The message - the world has entered a new epoch fueled by instant communication and the mammoth human resources that have been unleashed in India, Latin America, and even Africa. A clear must-read, "TWIF" is an Important Book.

So it was no surprise that Friedman has cranked out a follow-up. In "Hot, Flat and Crowded," Friedman takes the same dynamics that he described in "TWIF" and examines their consequences on our polluted, energy-starved world. What will we do when literally hundreds of millions of people who previously consumed little or no energy (because they were so poor and had no infrastructure) enter the middle class work force thanks to the benefits of technology?

One of the problems Friedman posed in "TWIF" is that Americans who do not fight to stay ahead will be surpassed by ambitious folks from India, China, Latin America, etc. In "HFC," Friedman posits that a Green Energy revolution is the answer - the world is going to be crying out for alternative energy resources and products that encourage smart consumption of energy. If America can take the lead in these areas, our leadership role in the world is assured.

But Friedman sees problems everywhere - rightly so. Our government and economy are addicted to fossil fuels, and nobody is stepping up to take the leadership mantle.

So why only three stars? Well, first thing - Friedman has never been much of a stylist. The prose is workmanlike, which is fine for a column but gets tedious after a few hundred pages. And the book starts to resemble a piano player playing one note over and over again. This is not a bloated Tom Clancy novel by any means, but one wishes that Friedman could have tightened things up a bit.

But the book is still an important read - because as Friedman points out, our green revolution is most likely to come from the American people (and its entrepreneurs) rather than the political leadership. In that, he is surely right.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, December 13, 2009
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This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
Tom Friedman's book is a journalistic tour de force. He has been everywhere, it seems, and interviewed everyone who matters in doing his research. With that engaging style we are used to from his columns, he confronts here the biggest issues facing our nation and the planet. The book is essentially in two parts; a diagnosis, and a proposed cure. The first section is one of the most succint summaries that I am aware of what has gone wrong in our civilization over the past fifty years. His equations of financial meltdown with global warming are clever...The second half of the book, however, is very different, though no less impressive in its way; a kind of well-informed optimistic wish list of steps to turn the crisis around. It does, however, as Friedman states himself several times, often sound a bit like science fiction. Everything he suggests, from a 'smart' utility grid, to universal green fiscal incentives, is possible, but you come away from the book feeling that their achievement, on the grand or global scale, is rather like trying to scale Mount Everest with a Segway. Friedman points out plenty of examples of individual pioneers, but that's an entirely different thing to remolding the national consciousness from the inside, which is what he proposes. The book is actually replete with example of the vast entrenched obstacles in the way of getting to where he wants to go. It seems a pity, but after reading this book I actually feel more pessimistic about the possibility of America regenerating itself in the twenty first century.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat long-winded, but worth the read., January 9, 2010
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This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
I picked up all 500+ pages of this book just over two weeks ago, and have been determined to make it to the end. If nothing else, this book is informative, and Friedman has done his homework, having travelled the globe, and interviewed many people, observing new projects as they emerge.
Friedman doesn't veer too much away from traditional economics, and he doesn't present what I would consider a maverick approach. In fact he has often been criticized for presenting a world view that today's problems can be solved by technology. But arguing mainly from this frame of reference, he does bring in a lot of data that supports the view that innovation, namely that which leads to efficiency, is economically profitable. What he doesn't do is suggest that we need to drastically alter our lifestyles, though he does outline the devastating impact of a burgeoning world population on the environment, suggesting that it is education that can decrease the birth rates in third world countries.
Friedman's 'bumper-sticker' formula for success is REEFIGDCPEERPFPCA<TCOBCOG (a renewable energy ecosystem for innovating, generating, and deploying clean power, energy efficiency, resource productivity, family planning, conservation, and adaptation<the true cost of burning coal, oil, and gas)... Yes, didn't I tell you he was long winded? But he has a point about the benefits of moving away from non-renewable resources, which he explains quite well. And he is not too simplistic about how this is to be accomplished; the path ahead of us, he argues, is neither easy nor convenient.
Does he agree with the view that we must adopt a simpler, close-to-nature existence as many environmentalist suggest? He acknowledges that position, admitting he does not belong to that school of thought, while suggesting that they may yet prove to be correct. But what Friedman proposes is worth hearing. Even those skeptical about global warming may find much to agree with in this book, and the reader would need to be in denial not to be concerned about the impact of a consumer culture on the planet's ecosystem. My own reaction is that Friedman offers some hope. We can be paralyzed by fear or despair, but Friedman, backed up by enormous amounts of research, brings into focus some steps that need to be taken. Nobody has all the answers to the world's problems, but Friedman has some, and they are worth hearing.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hot Flat and Crowded, January 4, 2010
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This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
Hot Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman is a timely book that leaves the reader with a fear and at the same time hope for the world we live in. The book tells us about topics such as the US dependency on oil, and how some people believe that Global warming is a myth created to slow down China's industry, and how today we live in a world where the same job can be done by someone living in India just as well if not better than someone in the US. Friedman's book goes in depth into three related topics, which are the world's current state of being Hot (global warming), Flat (Internet leveling the playing field) and crowded (self explanatory). This book doesn't stop with explaining these issues or with giving examples of each in vivid detail, or with citing evidence to support the accusations but goes on to tell us what we, not only as a country, but as part of the greater community of planet earth must do. This book is exciting. This might be hard to believe given that the topics on the surface might seem terribly dull and bland, but when delved into deeper with more attention to detail, and when given a better understanding (which the book provides) these issues and topics become so much more than just a bunch of dull economic situations. As a sixteen year old high school student I cannot stress how strongly I believe that this book should be read by every single person in America of high school age or older. For a youth like myself this book served as an eye opener to what our world's situation is and how my generation needs to be the generation that makes the necessary changes. For older readers like my parents this book serves the purpose of encouraging them to elect strong and innovative leaders and for they themselves to start on the process of adjusting their lifestyles. To all readers; young, middle aged, and elderly, this book tells us that just because there is no attack on Pearl Harbor or missiles aimed at us from Cuba there is still a very real threat. The threat is not communism or Nazi aggression but an aggressively growing world wide middle class that when combined with our fossil fuel dependence creating global warming we have a combustible situation.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A utopian view of our future, February 11, 2010
This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
Tom Friedman presents a refreshing, journalist's review of the new possibilities for the so-called green revolution. The author examines several good ideas for substainability and a few poor ones.

Take Cap-and Trade. Jim Hansen, NASA climatologist, describes it as a "Temple of Doom" for life on our planet. Friedman brings up the European example as a failure of the program:

"The case in point is the European experience: they spent $50 billion on carbon trading, their CO2 emissions actually increased, and the largest payment went to a German coal-burning utility!"
Friedman offers a counter-suggestion: carbon tax:

" But the whole point of a cap-and-trade regime is to disguise any pain and pretend that we aren't even imposing a tax. To my ear, it is like trying to desegrated the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, in 1962 by letting James Meredith go to night school."

"Some argue that a carbon tax would handicap the American economy by making our exports more expensive and less competitive. He make note that countries like Denmark and Norway have imposed a CO2 tax for many years. "Denmark today is the world's leading exporter of wind turbines and has 4% unemployment --in part because the way it has taxed energy has helped stimulate a whole new clean-tech industry there."
The author presents case studies of successful programs the United States has already implemented. He recalls the Porter hypothesis, "appropriately planned environmental regulations will stimulate technological innovation, leading to reductions in expenses and improvements in quality." In 2004, the EPA introduced new Tier II standards on diesel engines for nitrogen oxide.

GE was forced to produce diesel locomotives to meet these new standards. Rather than strap on improvements to existing models, an approach the Big Three automakers did poorly in the 1970s to improve milage, GE's approach was different, better. They invented a new locomotive from the wheels up. Even China buys its locomotives from GE's Erie, PA plant. The new engine produces the same horsepower with twelve cylinders as the old one did with sixteen cylinders. "Best of all is that these locomotives are reliable. "They don't stop on the tracks," says John Dineen, GE's Transportation president and CEO. The Germans and Chinese are buying these locomotives as fast as Erie can make them.

The author overlooks the changes needed in corporate structure. GE is a nimble conglomerate that seeks talent and promotes sucess and takes risks. Could you see BP or GM taking those kind of risks. Not in our current view of the corporation!

There are some journalistic failures though. Friedman touts the success of California in cutting greenhouse gases by half . Certainly, California is to be commended for setting the mark high for efficiency standards affecting cars, refrigerators and air conditioners. However, this was at a price. I lived in California during this time. I defy him to show how California decreased emissions without the loss of industrial jobs.

This is the failure of this book. Tom Friedman is an optimist. Late in the book he shrugs and admits that America must reform its political system before it can compete with China and Europe. He waxes poetically, "Why can't America be China for just one day?" But, he does not give any insight into how we may reform our politics. It's a shame the author spent so much time with CEO and other executives instead of engineers. We've seen our jobs go overseas. It is hard expect engineers in the present political framework to challenge corporate authority who promote globalization and the quarterly view. We engineers can't invent our way out of our troubles, certainly not alone.

No, the lessons of this book are: America is still the land of great possibilities but not without changing things from the bottom up.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the Facts Jack, April 5, 2010
By 
Derek (Northern Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
As a military veteran I see a lot of detailed information in this book relating to America becoming Energy Independent and improving our National Security. The reviewers who gave this book negative reviews or said it's just a bunch of opinions sound more supportive of the Oil and Coal industries than in Americas energy and economic independence.

Fact ~ Marine Major General Richard C. Zilmer requested support in saving his marines based in Iraq from getting killed and maimed by IED's and snipers while transporting Oil for his unit. The solution was combining Energy Efficiency, Insulation, Wind and Solar renewable energy technologies. Fact ~ this saved lives of US troops in the field.

Fact ~ the US imports and uses Billions of gallons of Oil from the Middle East annually, and a lot of our money goes towards funding Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups seeking to kill US troops and citizens. Reducing our reliance on Middle Eastern Oil through improved mileage standards, taxes on imported Oil, and investing in home production of Biofuels reduces the funding for terrorist organizations.

Fact ~ the US can produce its own energy so long as we move away from relying on foreign Oil. We have enough natural resources in Wind, Solar, Geothermal, Hydro, Biomass, Biofuels, Nuclear, and Natural Gas to replace all our Coal fired plants many times over while creating more Jobs and Globally in demand Technologies and Products that we can export. Add to that our massive resources for fresh Water, much of which is currently being wasted and polluted by the livestock industry. China and the Middle East are suffering from Water shortages while we are Rich though some Western states are having their water wasted and polluted by the Livestock industry as well as from Oil and Coal production.

Fact ~ this book lays out clear cut examples and processes for America to become Energy Independent, as well as improve both our Economy and National Security.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% On Target, June 15, 2010
This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
I loved this book for a couple of reasons. First, it is chock full of factual data. Page after page has quotes from studies or statements by informed people showing that we really are in trouble and need to do something about it. Second I agree totally with his proposed solution. The American free market, when properly guided, can do just about anything. Send the right price signal and we'll change the world.

One anecdote I should relate as well. I was recently in Costa Rica [which itself has a great track record on environmental friendliness] talking to Costa Ricans and few people from India. They were relating how more and more they are becoming "Americanized". Big houses, big cars, the kids play video games, they eat more meat, etc. When I talked about how the idea of billions more Americans could be scary for the planet, they said, "Oh, we know that." Then when I asked why they don't come up with a new way of doing things, they said, "We can't. We want so badly to be like you that the consequences be d--ned. If the world is going to change, you Americans are going to have to lead the way..."

Friedman is 100% on target with this book, I wish I could buy a copy for everyone in the country...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just the new three chapters justify reading the book again, September 5, 2010
By 
Emc2 (Tropical Ecotopia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
Friedman hardcover edition happened to be published just a few weeks before the 2008 global financial meltdown began, and he also missed the Obama election. For this second edition, or version 2.0 as he likes to call it, these events were factored in, and the result is an updated and expanded paperback edition with three new chapters added at the beginning, and when appropriate, he made minor updates throughout the book, mainly regarding the financial crisis.

The Great Recession, as Friedman called it, provided him with the opportunity to make a clever parallel between the crises in the "Markets" and "Mother Nature" and emphasized his original arguments regarding the unsustainable path that the U.S. has been following in the last decades, to the point of becoming the "Grasshopper Generation". The new three chapters provide a very strong leverage for the remaining of the original content. For those who already had read the first edition I do recommend reading version 2.0. The discussion presented in the new three chapters is worth every penny you will pay for it, particularly for Americans.

You can read my full review of the 2008 edition here (Hot, Flat, and Crowded - Hardcover). In summary, this is a comprehensive and well-researched book intended for the American public, and despite being very American-centric, definitively is of interest for readers of all nationalities. I think he is very idealistic regarding the solutions but indeed he is very realistic in the diagnosis and in analyzing all the good reasons for the US to move away from the current carbon society, whether global warming is real or not, as he also notes in the book. Friedman often becomes very annoying, as he tells one too many personal anecdotes to the point of "show off". Also he is so vehement in his cause that ends up repeating some phases "ad nauseam", particularly "abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons". It really makes you feel he is trying to make you memorize a prayer.

If you wonder why I change my grading from version 1.0 to version 2.0, I believe the new materials merit a revision of my original rating from 3 to 4 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book Identifies Need For Fundamental Change, But..., July 7, 2012
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This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
Friedman made some good points in his book regarding the difficulty of fundamentally changing the way we look at our growing world, but his political leanings (liberals versus Neanderthals) and his reference to my (and his) generation as the 'Grasshopper Generation' was a big turnoff. In addition, he strongly suggests that the US government should incentivize even more some of the alternative energy forms (a big solar and wind fan, as am I), but in the same breath lambasts ethanol as a complete failure. In the context of the present day (making Friedman's opinion about 3 years old), we now know that US government participation in solar has had its problems. Conversely, the US government successfully supported the growth of an entire new industry (ethanol/purified protein) over the last 30 years. As of last year, federal subsidies to corn ethanol have been ELIMINATED (with complete support and agreement from the ethanol industry groups) while oil subsidies and subsidies to many, many other industries continue. Mr. Friedman, I DO NOT SEE THE FAILURE HERE. Cripes, the government had given almost three times more money to Mubarak's Egypt over last 30 years than to ethanol subsidies (much of which was passed on to consumers, by the way, in the form of cheaper fuel).

If your politics are left leaning, you'll love Friedman's book. If you are not, push yourself through this book anyway and harvest the few nuggets that are tucked away in his message.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding overview of the energy challenges we face, April 15, 2010
By 
Francis Tapon (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0 (Paperback)
OVERVIEW: I'm a libertarian and I expected it to annoy me with its arguments that the government knows best and that the free-market is a failure. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by his balanced approach.

PROS:
- Extremely well written: lively, flows well, entertaining
- Packed with useful facts and told in a way that is unforgettable
- He nails capitalism's biggest shortcoming: its inability to capture externalities, like pollution. He's absolutely right that we must price those externalities into the cost of dirty energy.
- He's also right that the cap-and-trade system is a wimpy solution which will only happen because the public hates the word "tax."
- He's right that all these problems are not the government's fault, or the politicians, or the big business. It's OUR fault. We the people ask for it. We don't want a carbon tax which triples are dirty energy bill and would make solar/wind more competitive, so politicians don't give put in a carbon tax. We don't want a gas tax that makes gas $10/gallon, so politicians don't give us one. We are the only ones to blame.

CONS:
- He's unconvincing that we need the government to do basic research because the private sector won't do it. Wrong. The next paragraph he will talk about the amazing basic research going on in Bell Labs (a private company). His main argument is better: send a price signal, by taxing carbon, and then businesses, universities, and guys in the garage will do the basic research necessary to take advantage of the business opportunity. We don't need the government to fund the research directly. Just tax what you want us to use less of (coal/oil/gas) and the market will innovate.
- He sometimes exaggerates the environmental problems we face, as if the human race will disappear. Yes, we'll kill off hundreds/thousands of species and screw things up, but we'll change once it becomes less painful to change than not to change.

CONCLUSION
Densely packed with information, yet never boring, this book is my favorite book of the year!
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Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0
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