By and large, the thesis of Thomas Friedman's new book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded" is correct. That is, the world is getting hotter, the world is getting "flatter" as globalisation erodes many of the differences between national economies and, of course, the world is becoming more crowded. We could argue the degree to which each of these phenomena is a problem but it is hard to argue that they are not occurring.
Having set the scene, Friedman then launches into a solution which involves a greening of the world. And this should occur not just in the USA and other industrialised countries but must reach into China and the newly developing world. Again, hard to argue here. However, I feel that the means that he proposes this greening is somewhat wishy washy. Greening will require significant market reforms. The world will need a carbon tax at least; more likely, there will be a need to develop a full carbon trading system. But herein lies the problem. The US has already rejected "cap and trade". Not a great start. Here in Australia where this reviewer resides, there is a fierce debate at present as to the need for any intervention at all. The government seems to be losing popularity by the day as it pushes a market based agenda. This is a shame. Hard choices need to be made.
In spite of my reservations, I enjoyed Friedman's book. He is a fine journalist at the top of his craft. His influence is significant and he has a loyal fan base. I only wish that he could be more hard headed. We are facing a serious challenge at the global level. This will require severe medicine. Friedman could have produced a better book by recognising this fact with greater determination.