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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars one of the most interesting and insightful wrong people writing today, 17 April 2009
This review is from: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why The World Needs A Green Revolution - and How We Can Renew Our Global Future (Hardcover)
The basic argument of `Hot, Flat and Crowded' is that the world is facing a series of challenges. ('Flat' refers to the internet creating a more level playing field) "Global warming, the stunning rise of middle classes all over the world, and rapid population growth have converged in a way that could make our planet dangerously unstable." As a result, we face the threat of energy poverty, petro-dictators, a biodiversity crisis, and climate change.

In his analysis, Friedman is great, but his solutions are way off the mark. His main answer is that America must ride to the rescue. Forgetting that the US is most responsible for our current crisis and has shown less inclination to fix it than almost any other country, it must now become "a beacon of hope and the country that can always be counted on to lead the world in response to whatever is the most important issue of the day."

Okay then. The US will lead us all out of crisis by going green, and this it will do by creating a smart national grid and by creating the right conditions for investment in renewable energy. Personal action and lifestyle changes will not be required.

Friedman's linking of the green agenda and nationalism is rather squirm inducing, although no doubt great for getting conservatives on side. To a non-American, it sounds like jingoism.

As well as being about national power, going green is also about "making America richer". Friedman cannot conceive of a future without infinite growth, no matter how at odds that might be with a true environmental awareness. "I start from the bedrock principle that we as a global society need more and more growth" he writes. That 'bedrock principle' is a very bad foundation for a book about sustainability.

Having said all that, `Hot, Flat, and Crowded' is still a good book. There is some enlightening material on China and India. He deals with conservation and biodiversity loss, often forgotten in the climate change debate. The book is full of useful examples and on-the-ground perspectives. Friedman hasn't won the Pulitzer Prize three times for nothing. Wrong he may often be, but he is one of the most interesting and insightful wrong people writing today.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Dec 2009 16:30:00 GMT
He is clearly writing it for an American audience, an audience that is so used to the screams of "we're no 1!" that anything else seems traitorous in comparison. Give the man credit for pitching his book in such a way that it may actually influence.
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