Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Report: Hot, Flat, and Crowded

I just finished Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded. I've read earlier books of his, including the Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat, so I already knew much of what to expect. I believe that Friedman has a very clear-headed approach to the problems that we face and a great way of explaining the phenomena that affect us all. Here he talks about the convergence of overpopulation, global warming, and energy, which he claims (and I agree) are the biggest long-term challenges the world currently faces.

The short summary for me is that he was basically preaching to the choir - I'm already a true believer in most of the points that he makes, he just makes them far more coherently than I am able to do. I will quibble a bit with his view of the role of government: while he's definitely a free-market advocate, he believes in a somewhat more government-directed and unified approach to solving our long-term energy needs than makes me comfortable, but I think he's got the right ideas.

This was much more of a policy book and a "frame the problem" book than Earth: The Sequel was. What I liked about Earth: The Sequel was that it almost read as an investor's guide or business school case study of clean energy; it was much less about policy (beyond the assumed axiom that a price on carbon is a must-have) and more about solutions than Hot Flat and Crowded.

I think both books, frankly, should be required reading for all politicians.

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