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Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0

Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America

Thomas L. Friedman


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ISBN10: 0312428928
ISBN13: 9780312428921

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528 Pages



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A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
A Business Week Best Business Book of the Year
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Editors' Choice Best Book of the Year
Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Thomas L. Friedman's number-one bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see the world in a new way. In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 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 the country stands in 2008, he shows how the solutions to these two big problems are linked—how Americans 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." In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession. The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy. And it could inspire Americans to something we haven't seen in a long time—nation-building—by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.

In vivid, entertaining chapters, Friedman makes it clear that the green revolution the world needs is like no revolution before. 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. 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.

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.


Praise for Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0

"When the Soviet Union chucked Sputnik into space in 1957, it galvanized America to come from behind and win the space race. The federal government opened its checkbook to finance an array of projects. Students shifted to new subjects like astronautical engineering and Russian studies to help the United States understand and eclipse the Soviet Union. The moon shot inspired a patriotic nation and produced useful commercial technologies along the way. The space race was expensive, but it worked. Thomas L. Friedman's latest book is a plea for a new Sputnik moment. His breezy tour of America's energy policy documents a nation that has become dangerously dependent on fossil fuels . . . Mr. Friedman's voice is compelling and will be widely heard . . . Mr. Friedman's strength is his diagnosis of our energy and environmental nightmares . . . The most intriguing chapter in Mr. Friedman's book is his last, which poses the toughest challenge. Can America be like China, where a visionary government can impose a new direction on the country in the face of national emergency? Or will America devolve into a country that is so mired in red tape and local opposition that it builds absolutely nothing anywhere, near anything? Societies like that get stuck because they can't embrace new technologies, like the cherished wind turbines and the power lines needed to carry their current . . . Heads will be nodding across airport lounges, as readers absorb Mr. Friedman's common sense about how America and the world are dangerously addicted to cheap fossil fuels while we recklessly use the atmosphere as a dumping ground for carbon dioxide. The Sputnik is heading into orbit, thanks to high energy prices, growing fear of the changing climate and pleas like Mr. Friedman's. But whether we as a nation—and with us, the world—are really prepared to do anything to solve the problem is still in doubt."—David Victor, The New York Times

"The form of Hot, Flat, and Crowded is trademark Friedman: a series of arguments, often distilled into mnemonic formulations, some snappier than others—it's not A.D. 2008, but ‘1 E.C.E.,' the first year of the ‘Energy-Climate Era'— all based on extensive, far-flung reporting, most of it consisting of interviews with experts, professors and, of course, C.E.O.s . . . What will appeal to can-do business types is that Friedman's book does not dwell, as, say, Gore's movie did, on describing the problem, but concentrates most on sketching possible solutions. It is in these passages that Friedman's argument really takes off, allowing him to give vent to his enthusiasm and unabashed idealism . . . Friedman knows what is to be done. The United States needs to set an example for the world to follow, by starting over and constructing an entirely new Clean Energy System, one that will send ‘clean electrons' into its homes, offices and cars—generated not by dirty old oil or coal, but by solar, wind and nuclear power—and that will use many fewer of those electrons, thanks to greater efficiency. In the book's most arresting passage, Friedman plays futurist and looks ahead—to ‘20 E.C.E.'—imagining a world where an Energy Internet puts each one of your home appliances in touch with the power company, drawing out only the minimal power it needs to function and at the cheapest, off-peak times. Even your car, by now a plug-in hybrid that gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon, can charge its battery with solar power, which it then sells back to the grid . . . [Hot, Flat, and Crowded] is grounded in detailed research and repeatedly hits its target. It contains some killer facts—the American pet food industry spends more on research and development than the country's power companies; Ronald Reagan stripped from the White House the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed as a symbolic step toward energy independence. Above all, it is fundamentally right on the biggest question of our age. If Friedman's profile and verve take his message where it needs to be heard, into the boardrooms of America and beyond, that can only be good—for all our sakes."—Jonathan Freedland, The New York Times Book Review

"We need Tom Friedman. The peripatetic columnist has made himself a major interpreter of the confusing world we inhabit. He travels to the farthest reaches, interviews everyone from peasants to chief executives and expresses big ideas in clear and memorable prose . . . Friedman gets the big issues right."—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., The Washington Post

"Hot, Flat, and Crowded is a compelling manifesto that deserves a wide reading, especially by members of Congress and candidates for president."—Bill Williams, The Boston Globe

"The headline of Thomas Friedman's column in this morning's New York Times reads, 'How to Make America Stupid.' Friedman is reacting to Rudy Giuliani's rallying cry at the Republican National Convention: 'Drill, baby, drill!' 'Why would Republicans,' he writes in what we might call classic Friedman-ese, a tone best accompanied by beating the forehead with one's open palm, 'the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century-technology—fossil fuels—rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology—renewable energy?' This is also the tone of Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America, a book so combustible it makes a reader want to skip the palm of the hand altogether and bang the offending forehead against the nearest power line."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

"Hot, Flat, and Crowded is an impassioned plea for consumers, businesses and politicians to wake up to both perils and opportunities presented by global warming and the emerging resource-constrained world."—Daniel Gross, Newsweek

"Reading New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's latest book, it's hard to know how to describe him. A genial Jeremiah, perhaps? Or maybe Thomas Malthus with a clipboard and a 10-point plan for avoiding global catastrophe? As a professional opiner, Friedman is unusual. He's not your typical journalistic chin-stroker, content to gin up a few deep thoughts before knocking out 800 words twice a week. From world capitals to remote villages, Friedman travels around the world, interviewing world leaders, business dynamos, and ground-breaking innovators. (It helps to have a New York Times expense account, I suppose.) And he does it with an enthusiastic curiosity that's infectious. He comes across as an intellectual who's also down-to-earth. Plus, there are those three Pulitzer Prizes he's won for his reporting and writing . . . In Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution—And How It Can Renew America, Friedman brings it all together, adding in the inexorable growth in world population and consumption because much of the rest of the world is becoming more like the US in levels of wealth and therefore has the ability to buy stuff that depletes natural resources, creates greenhouse gases, and ends up in landfills . . . Friedman loves lists, and he loves phrasemaking. We have now entered the 'Energy-Climate Era' or 'E.C.E.' We need a 'Code Green' revolution in which America leads the way in innovative development of clean energy and 'an ethic of conservation toward the natural world.' Antidemocratic leaders whose coffers swell because of Americans' appetite for oil he calls 'petrodictators.' This is gimmicky, but useful. And lists: 'Three broad trends' in America today. Five key problems 'that a hot, flat, and crowded world is dramatically intensifying.' 'Four fundamental ways' in which the nation's oil addiction is changing the international system. That's OK, too. Lists help organize thought and form understanding . . . He also writes excellent tutorial chapters on climate change, biodiversity, and 'energy poverty' in Africa and other parts of the developing world . . . This is not a book designed to cheer us up but to get us off our backsides. And Friedman doesn't mean just changing light bulbs and installing low-flow toilets. Saving the world will be a lot harder than that. But the tone and the innovative ideas reviewed here leave me optimistic and energized. And certainly with a better understanding of the connections between energy, the environment, the economy, and national security."—Brad Knickerbocker, The Christian Science Monitor

"After three Pulitzer Prizes, four best-selling books and a couple of decades as a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, Thomas Friedman has his role down pat. Mixing fact-heavy reporting with a conversational tone, he produces cogent analyses of the most important developments of our time. In Hot, Flat and Crowded, his newest book, Friedman crafts a timely manifesto from separate intellectual strands on energy, the environment and geopolitics. His main argument: the biggest challenges confronting the U.S.—a debilitating dependence upon foreign sources of carbon-based energy and a battered image abroad—actually represent an enormous opportunity . . . Hot, Flat and Crowded is an intelligent book intelligently argued . . . A convincing case for the green revolution required to rescue us from an unsustainable course."—David J. Lynch, USA Today

"For better or worse, few journalists fashion neologisms with the zest of New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. In Hot, Flat, And Crowded, his new book about globalization and environmentalism, he puts these word-coinage skills on grand display. For Friedman, we're not living in 2008 A.D. or even 2008 C.E.—we've jumped onto a new timeline, the 'Energy-Climate Era,' and today's date falls in the year '1 E.C.E.' Friedman sums up his philosophy for 21st-century American energy policy, which he explores here in near-heroic detail and scope, using an equation that he offers with 'tongue only slightly in cheek' . . . [Friedman] has an uncanny ability to assume accurately what a knowledgeable reader probably already knows about any given subject. Moreover, with three Pulitzers on his shelf and 13 years of Times columns in his portfolio, he knows how to craft a persuasive argument . . . Hot, Flat, And Crowded skillfully weaves testimonies from both gung-ho 'green' pioneers—folks who want nothing more than a platform from which to tout their oft-ingenious innovations—and from dedicated scientists whose Chicken Little scenarios receive ample and deserved elucidation and validation. Friedman is at his best when he brings K Street to Main Street, explaining how governmental arcana—price signals, regulatory commissions, agricultural subsidies—quickly metastasize to affect everything from consumer and corporate bank accounts to the health of children's lungs and our ecosystem's biodiversity. For Friedman, America's need for—and Washington's promotion of—a 'green revolution' should lead, like the Space Race of the '50s and '60s before it, to better schools, to a new sector of 'green-collar' manufacturing jobs for chronically underemployed youth, and to enhanced moral standing in the global community. Al Qaeda can be defeated if we 'out-green' it; petrodictators can be toppled if we quit buying oil from them. The revolution's benefits are far-reaching and universal, financial and cultural. 'This is not about the whales anymore,' Friedman argues convincingly in this apposite companion to his bestseller, The World Is Flat. It's about the planet—and the oversized slice of it we've taken for ourselves."—Simon Maxwell Apter, NPR

"Much is at stake when a new Thomas Friedman book comes out. He is one of our most influential writers; people read his books to feel for the pulse of the moment. In 1999, The Lexus and the Olive Tree introduced thousands to the notion of globalization; it was like the gun that went off to signal that word and idea had arrived. When The World Is Flat appeared in 2005, there were days when almost everyone on the train was reading it. So Hot, Flat, and Crowded may make it official, for many, that ecology-mindedness is the character of our times. This is not, however, just another jeremiad on climate change. Friedman here attempts a more careful kind of argument. He links our environmental crises (pollution, climate change, habitat loss, overpopulation, energy crunch, squandering of natural resources) directly with our economic and political behavior. Going green, Friedman argues, will goose our economy, help remedy poverty and inequality, and restore our standing in the world. Throughout the book, he and his interviewees invoke the entanglement of environment, economics, and politics . . . And, as in any book like this, one can agree but wonder whether any of these fine ideas will ever be implemented. It will be much harder, however, to deny the advancing eyewall of the main thesis: that economics, politics, and the ecology are intimately continuous, always have been, always will be, and denial has endangered us. Hot, Flat, and Crowded (printed on 30 percent post-consumer recycled content, by the way) makes this case too well to be dismissed . . . If Hot, Flat, and Crowded can get more of us to stop ignoring it and back a concerted strategy to make things better, then I hope everyone reads it."—John Timpane, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"An absorbing read. Friedman shows how rising oil prices link to a direct decline in freedom in oil-rich countries; how 'going green' truly is (or soon will be) the economically competitive direction for corporations to move; how preserving biodiversity is as essential as developing clean energy; how all meaningful conservation movements, even in the farthest reaches of Brazil, are local; and how China's government, with much worse environment, population pressure and pollution, is outperforming the U.S. in 'green' reforms. He doesn't minimize the stakes this time. Our oil addiction fuels both sides of the war on terror and is killing democracy overseas—'I can't think of anything more stupid.' President Bush's refusal to reduce oil dependence might be called 'No Mullah Left Behind.' Friedman provides a fine textbook description of global warming—a polite misnomer better rendered as 'global climatic disruption.' Al Gore owes us an apology, he jokes, for underestimating the problem . . . One of the most interesting sections describes pressure from front-line U.S. military leaders in Iraq to 'go green.' Fuel supply trucks were repeated targets for terrorist bombers, so officers sought solar and wind generators to keep soldiers off the roads, and innovative insulation of tents to cut the cost of air conditioning in the desert. Quiet facts leap off the page. On some days, 25 percent of the polluting matter over Los Angeles originated in China. Indoor air pollution from cooking fires kills 1.6 million Africans a year, mostly young children and mothers. But there's also a wonderful science-fiction-ish vision of an energy-efficient and healthy future, too, where household appliances monitor and adjust their own energy usage, plug-in electric vehicles generate new power that consumers can sell back to power companies, and bakeries and pizza companies use school cafeterias during their off-hours. It's an alarming and inspiring book, and certain to be another best-seller."—David Loftus, The Oregonian (Portland)

"Thomas Friedman's bestselling The World is Flat would be a tough act to follow for the most talented of authors; however, Friedman pulls it off with ease in his newest book released this week, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How it Can Renew America. Throughout the book, Friedman explains that the volatile mixture of global warming, ever-increasing and longer living populations, and a burgeoning middle class has reached critical mass: he warns that unless drastic changes are made—and made quickly—the stability of life as we know it will be dramatically altered, and not for the better . . . Friedman makes his case with clarity and wit. Hot, Flat, and Crowded promises to be not just one of the most important books of 2008, but one that every modern American—liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between—should read and consider."—Michelle Kerns, The Examiner

"Friedman went from Pulitzer Prize winning author, to pop-culture touchstone with his 2005 The World Is Flat. Flat made the case, with plenty of examples, that the tech bubble had made the world a flatter place, that it was much easier for individuals or companies around the world, be able to compete in the First World. In a similar vein, Hot, Flat, and Crowded makes the argument that two different crises, America's lack of national purpose in the post 9/11 world, and the growing environmental crisis (the Hot and Crowded part of the title) can be dealt with together, giving America a purpose and drive to solve those very environmental and economic problems that can also lower our risks in unstable parts of the world. Yes it is riding on the coattails of his previous book, but Friedman doesn't just retread his previous work, but takes the implications of what Flat meant in the longer term, and comes up with suggestions for fixing the trends he sees as most dangerous, both for America and the world as a whole. Many of his suggestions are capitalistic at their core—spending more money than is profitable on Green technologies, and assuming that the benefit will be much like that for the Tech bubble, lowering the barrier to entry for hundreds of companies to create even more cost savings or technological fixes. Other suggestions are more government imposed, much higher gasoline taxes and floor prices for crude oil, to encourage investment in alternative energy. Regardless of your opinion of his ideas, you will be, or already are talking about them. And will be for years to come."—Sacramento Book Review

"Currently a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, Friedman has four previous books, including The World Is Flat, in which he addresses the massive changes brought about by globalization. The thoughtful and thoroughly-researched plan he proposes in this book is more likely than all the Go Green public service announces combined to make a real dent in the way Americans view their role in environment destruction. There's no list of quick and easy planet-saving tips here—Friedman recognizes that we are far beyond the day when backyard gardens can have a real impact on our future. By focusing on issues that appeal to a majority of Americans—money and patriotism—Friedman has targeted the right market. The question remains: does American spirit and financial intelligence still exist?"—Deborah Adams, Northeast Book Reviews

"[Hot, Flat, and Crowded] is an urgent primer on the need for a clean energy system, engagingly written in his usual folksy and anecdotal style."—Ben Naparstek, The Jerusalem Post

"Global warming is real, energy use is rising, the global economy is here, and a lot more people are contributing to all three. That spells big trouble for all of us, says Friedman, unless we immediately take steps that will fundamentally change the way we live our lives, consume our energy, protect our biodiversity, enhance cross-global collaboration and improve education throughout the world. This cooperative, global effort—which Friedman argues America must lead, restoring our moral and technological leadership in the process . . . The strength of Hot, Flat, and Crowded is that he is convincing that we must achieve these goals, and he backs up his arguments with reams of statistics, anecdotes and interviews with experts from around the world. One of Friedman's most provocative arguments is that '. . . America no longer can afford the luxury of allowing old-fashioned, non-innovative capitalism to be at the heart of its industrial system, distorting and threatening the system as a whole.' Nowhere is this more true than in energy, where companies explore and use fossil fuels ('fuels from hell') to sustain a carbon-based economy. Friedman calls for a mixture of incentives and regulations to change that, arguing that we must find ways to create cheap, reliable, renewable electrons (through global collaboration enabled by the Internet). America has 'privatized our will,' Friedman writes, and we must change that or suffer nature's consequences . . . Central to Friedman's thesis is that we need clean, renewable energy sources, yet 'the American pet food industry spends more each year on R&D than the American utilities industry does' . . . This is a sobering assessment of the state of the world, particularly world energy use. Contrasting Friedman's book with political ads about gasoline prices will give your outlook a refreshing shot of absurdity. Friedman is persuasive about our need to change."—Dan Danbom, Rocky Mountain News

"My husband and I recently returned from a business trip to Germany, where gas prices are about $9 per gallon. That should make Americans feel better. Of course, like most Europeans, Germans rely on excellent public transportation and smaller cars than we do. Perhaps that is our future, too. If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend Thomas L. Friedman's new book, Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America. Friedman, author of the best-selling The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, wrote in that important book how technology, the Internet and the lowering of trade and political barriers have instantly connected people worldwide. In Hot, Flat and Crowded, Friedman expounds on that and tackles the hot-button issues of energy, overpopulation, global warming, carbon emissions, the lack of political leadership to address these problems and the rise of countries such as India and China. Friedman argues for a green revolution. He says America should take the lead in devoting more manpower and resources to solving these problems. That, in turn, will help America rise again as an economic superpower and help other countries with similar problems."—Pam Bilger, Charlotte Observer

"The most inspiring call I've seen for an American-led energy, environmental and conservation revolution is Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the best-seller by Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner."—Jack Z. Smith, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"In his new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Friedman provides a fresh outlook on the crises of destabilizing climate change and rising competition for energy. The book proposes an ambitious national strategy to save the planet from overhearing and to make America healthier, richer, more innovative, more productive and more secure."—Atlanta Business Chronicle

"The writer Thomas Friedman paints a convincing picture of what needs to be done in his current nonfiction bestseller, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. He describes an increasingly crowded planet with a global economy and a severe problem of global warming."—The Daily Journal (Vineland, NJ)

"I have been reading Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded, and you should read it too, but not at night or you will never get to sleep. Friedman says we have entered the Energy-Climate Era, characterized by five main issues: 'a growing demand for ever-scarcer energy supplies and natural resources; a massive transfer of wealth to oil-rich countries and their petrodictators; disruptive climate change; energy poverty . . .; and rapidly accelerating biodiversity loss.' Friedman says we need to start acting now on a number of fronts, to make sure that our country's well-being—and the world's—remain sustainable over the long run. We need to act to make sure that all humans have lives that are full and productive and that our planet and all the web of life that sustains it—and us—is preserved into the indefinite future. So I'm reading along while Friedman makes a number of points about various underdeveloped countries, and what they need in order to be sustainable and prosperous, and it hits me—we in Maine need those things, too. I'll pick just three for today. First of all, 'green electrons.' That is, electric power that does not come from coal-fired electricity generating plants, or oil or natural gas. All these things contribute to global warming and are going to run out or get even more expensive. Green electrons will reduce our carbon footprint, which means reducing our contribution to global warming. We must put more green electrons into the grid from non-carbon based wind, solar, tidal and hydropower. We should use green electrons from biofuels, too (the kind of stuff we can grow), though biofuels have to be watched because they can contribute carbon to the atmosphere, and their use shouldn't compete with food production. (But yoo hoo, Maine, got wood?)"—Theodora J. Kalikow, Morning Sentinel

"In the charming but apocalyptic movie WALL•E, Disney-Pixar spins the story of a cute robot set against a grim backdrop of a future Earth dominated by trash and pollution, uninhabitable for plants, animals or people. Unable to live in a world that can't sustain life, bored and bloated humans mark centuries on a sterile space station. The message is clear: We blew it when charged with caring for the planet, and once you blow it, it's tough to fix the mess you leave behind. New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman believes we are on the brink of some WALL•E-sized trouble in our world. Blending soberness about the scale of the challenges ahead with an energizing optimism that change is possible, in Hot, Flat, and Crowded he outlines a course correction for the U.S. to take leadership of a 'green revolution.' If the U.S. does so, Friedman contends, it can jump-start the economy, forestall climate change, alleviate poverty, revitalize ecosystems and restore the nation's moral leadership. Big challenges. It's tough to know what is more chilling as Friedman gives us the bad news—the tragic outline of where the U.S. went wrong after 9/11, our oil addiction, the rise of petrodictatorships, or the continuing loss of biodiversity and the influence of that loss on world poverty. All of these are interconnected, Friedman writes. His bad news is balanced by the possibility of change. Friedman spends four chapters discussing what a system of clean power, energy efficiency and energy conservation would look like and how we might bring it about. Clean energy, he asserts, could be the next big global industry. 'We could do for solar and wind what China did for tennis shoes and toys.' Another benefit: a green agenda would create jobs as Americans retrofit their homes and make changes in the goods they use . . . His conversational style allows him to convey complicated concepts and big-picture thinking in a way that resonates with the reader. Friedman has the ability to wrap his arms around the gigantic, seemingly Sisyphean task of changing the world and to convince readers that they can be a part of the change . . . . Friedman's pragmatic solutions are infused with enthusiasm, vision and a passion that bubbles through so powerfully that one gets the feeling that if he were in the room, the roof might blow off. The book is richer for Friedman's personal anecdotes and imaginary scenes, whether he's writing about sitting in a community meeting in Indonesia's Batang Toru forest or envisioning an energy-efficient future with household power from a 'smart grid,' cars that are 'rolling energy units,' and workplaces with 'net zero' energy usage. Friedman also seems to enjoy educating his readers—explaining, for example, how our electricity is delivered and paid for. Christians who are not persuaded about the value of a green agenda would do well to read Friedman on poverty. Ninety percent of the people living in extreme poverty around the world today are directly dependent on forests for their food, fuel, shelter and fresh water, Friedman writes (citing biodiversity expert Michael Totten), and most of these people live in rural areas. Not only is a green agenda crucial for poor people's basic needs, Friedman shows, good environmental practices reduce conflict within countries over water and natural resources, increasing chances for peace. One of the difficulties of moving people toward a green agenda, Friedman notes, is that the people most affected by our decisions are not yet born. He calls for an ethic of stewardship and for people to think long-term. In order for life to remain—at the very least—the same for future generations, Americans will have to sacrifice and make changes. An additional chapter will be added to a forthcoming second edition of Hot, Flat, and Crowded. In an interesting integration of Internet and print, Friedman has invited readers to suggest what is missing from the book by leaving a note at the publisher's Web site. More than 200 ideas have already been suggested. Toward the end of the book Friedman reminds us, 'Green is a value that needs to be preserved in and of itself, not because it is going to make your bank account richer, but because it makes life richer and always has.' Later he adds, 'An ethic of conservation declares that maintaining our natural world is a value that is impossible to quantify but also impossible to ignore, because of the sheer beauty, wonder, joy, and magic that nature brings to being alive . . . Without an ethic of conservation we will lose that which is priceless but has no price tag.' Amen."—Cindy Crosby, Christian Century

"Friedman's latest venture into journalistic analysis and political prognostication is Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America. Friedman's message is simple, challenging, and frightening. We are entering the uncharted territory of the Energy-Climate Era that poses enormous challenges that will test the capacity of America's institutions, the relevance of cultural values, and the adaptability of its economic system to rise above 'business as usual' and conventional approaches . . . An invaluable resource for the road ahead in these fateful years of the inchoate Energy-Climate Era."—Ernie Yanarella, Business Lexington

"The world has a problem, writes Thomas L. Friedman in Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the none-too-cheery follow-up to his 2005 globalization primer, The World Is Flat . . . Friedman spends the first half of his roughly 450 pages detailing how we got into this mess, with a special shout-out to political leaders. 'The prevailing attitude on so many key issues in Washington today is "We'll get to it when we feel like getting to it and it will never catch up to us, because we're America,"' he writes. In the second half, he presents a smart, comprehensive but dauntingly ambitious plan for moving forward. The basics: We need to build an ultra-efficient grid, or 'Energy Internet'; increase demand for existing clean-energy technologies; and, most important, 'spur the massive, no-holds-barred-everybody-in-their-garage-or-laboratory innovation we need [to find] new sources of clean electrons.' Those first two will require big-time tax incentives and regulations, he says. But his conservative fans won't be disappointed: 'The only thing that can stimulate this much innovation in new technologies,' he stresses, 'is the free market' . . . One of the most accessible books yet on climate change and the energy debacle."—Dianna Delling, Outside

"Thomas Friedman has done it again. The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist has taken a global situation, this time climate change, and set out to educate the public about how we got there and what we can do about it . . . Friedman is an engaging storyteller who can skillfully elucidate complex ideas with pithy phrases . . . Friedman deftly illustrates how our oil addiction is encouraging petropolitical dictators and strengthening 'the most intolerant, antimodern, anti-Western, anti-women's rights, and antipluralistic strain of Islam."—Olga Bonfiglio, America

"No matter the subject he takes up—foreign policy, globalization, now the environment—Friedman goes at it with the same fervid, hawkish enthusiasm. In his new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, he embraces green wholeheartedly, but not in the way that those fuzzy-headed, limp-wristed countercultural types do. No sir. This is green for Real Men, green as 'the new red, white, and blue' . . . Just as his Times columns improved markedly when he took to green issues, so too is this book an improvement . . . What is most striking is the book's sheer, unapologetic, rip-roaring ambition. Like so much of the American left, the environmental movement has become acclimated to the notion that it is operating outside the mainstream, knocking sheepishly on the door. Its rallying cry might as well be, 'If it's not too much trouble . . .' Friedman, on the other hand, is all confidence. He claims the world and asks for the sky."—David Roberts, The American Prospect

"As with globalisation, Friedman isn't exactly opening up virgin terrain. But his métier is not to be an intellectual or reportorial frontiersman—he is best when he talks to us about something we already know is an important issue, helping us to define it more clearly and in the round. Friedman is what Isaiah Berlin called a hedgehog—he knows one big thing (or at least one big thing per book) and he devotes 412 pages to cramming pretty much all of the world, ranging from his younger daughter's school projects to the Chinese Communist party, into that over-arching paradigm. Friedman's central thesis is that the combination of global warming—the 'hot' of the book's title—and mounting demand for scarce natural resources—hence 'flat' and 'crowded'—is the defining challenge of our time. The first part of the book focuses on what's going wrong. He offers vivid accounts of some familiar aspects of the malaise: climate change, biodiversity loss and the natural resource crisis. More interestingly, Friedman also points to two important and less frequently diagnosed symptoms: the massive transfer of wealth to the petro-powers and the malign influence that money has on their domestic politics, and 'energy poverty', which he argues is creating a division between the world's electricity haves and have-nots. Hedgehogs tend to be crusaders, and Friedman is an ardent one, of the sunny, can-do American variety. So the second part of this book is about solutions. Friedman makes the important point that in America, so far the vaunted 'green revolution' is really a party—of the festive, not political, sort. He warns that green fashion is not enough and that the world, particularly the US, needs to knuckle-down to tough, structural change. But Friedman is more at ease as cheerleader than a scold, and he soon shifts into lively, sympathetic accounts of the entrepreneurs whose technologies could make that shift possible. Friedman is a global star—just try keeping count of each of the international lectures he mentions. And he has a gift for weaving anecdotes and examples from around the world into his broader tapestry: China, Detroit and Denmark can happily co-exist on a single page. But the focus of this book, and the prism through which he views the challenges of energy and the environment, is resolutely red, white and blue . . . Friedman's call for a new, defining national cause could well strike a powerful chord in today's dispirited United States: after all, this is a moment when even the Republicans, who have been running the country for the past eight years, have decided their only chance of hanging on to the White House is to promote their candidate as a crusading reformer who will bring radical change . . . Friedman's book will get people talking about green technologies and the need for a green revolution. It will probably introduce new phrases into the discourse of the chattering classes."—Chrystia Freeland, Financial Times

"Thomas Friedman's new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America, brings a fresh outlook to the crises of destabilizing climate change, rising competition for energy, and rapid population growth. Friedman sets out the clean-technology breakthroughs the world will need; shows that the energy technology revolution will be both transformative and disruptive; and explains why America must lead this revolution—with the first Green President and a Green New Deal, spurred by the Greenest Generation. Whether you defend or challenge Friedman's perspective, Hot, Flat, and Crowded is certain to become a lightning rod in the debates over climate change, energy, and environmental security."—

"Hot, Flat, and Crowded contains within it a wealth of important information about the numerous ways in which governments, citizens, and businesses can collaborate to stave off the eco-disaster that's likely already here."—Chris Barsanti, PopMatters

"The world is flat, New York Times columnist Friedman told us in his bestselling 2005 book of that name. Now things are getting worse, and the clock is ticking. Americans have squandered most of the goodwill extended since 9/11, writes Friedman, and in the years of the Bush administration no thought has been given to what 9/12 is supposed to look like. The climate is changing, but the administration has spent most of its tenure denying it and insisting on a particularist view that we deserve to be profligate because we're Americans. Our political blindness and ignorance vis-a-vis other nations now butts up against the world's instability and, Friedman continues, 'the convergence of hot, flat, and crowded is tightening energy supplies, intensifying the extinction of plants and animals, deepening energy poverty, strengthening petrodictatorship, and accelerating climate change.' The way out of those tangles, he says, is for America to go green in any way possible—and to do it right away, investing in every kind of alternative and renewable energy form imaginable, setting the best of examples for the rest of the world and exporting green technologies everywhere, thus winning back allies and influencing people. Readers who have been paying attention to Fareed Zakaria, Jared Diamond or similar writers know most of this, but still the word has been slow getting out. Many others have written about these subjects, but few enjoy Friedman's audience, so it's good that he's turning to such matters, if a touch belatedly. His case studies—from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's insistence on a fleet of hybrid taxis on the street to British firm Marks & Spencer's insistence that going green is Plan A and that 'there is no Plan B'—are well-selected, detailed and, in the end, quite inspiring. That inspiration is needed, along with a lot of hard work. A timely, rewarding book."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)



Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman--Audiobook Excerpt

Listen to an audiobook excerpt from Thomas L. Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America. In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Friedman speaks to America's urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America.

About the author

Thomas L. Friedman

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. He is 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.

Ralph Alswang

Thomas Friedman at The New York Times