Friday, December 18, 2009

Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman

I don't read a ton of non-fiction. I like the creative license one can take within the fictionalized genre and prefer fiction based on facts usually. That being said, there are certain real things that interest me too much to allow any fiction to invade; the state of our planet/way of life is one of them.

My knowledge of the environment and external factors that affect is pretty limited. I know what the Average Joe knows - pollution is bad, recycling is good, and our way of life is slowly strangling the planet. So, I picked up Friedman's book to get a better perspective on our situation and who's doing what to help the planet out. I expected a lot of science and some finger-pointing with a simple solution to fixing everything...that's just not how it works.

Friedman breaks down the global environmental issues into key parts ranging from energy consumption to our dependence on oil. He explains why each part has its own set of problems and then talks strategy for lessen the problem. He doesn't solve our environmental troubles, he strategizes on ways to improve upon them. I found this approach very refreshing. Educate me on an issue and then open up a discussion on making it better, that's how you're going to get me interested in what's going on. Don't feed me an absolute solution because there probably isn't one.

Also discussed in depth is the role the U.S. can play in addressing these environmental problems, especially our dependence on "dirty" energy. The U.S. has an opportunity to shoot out in front of other countries as a provider of "clean" energy thus reestablishing ourselves as an innovator and leader in global development. Friedman's call to action in the book was strong and well-written, but most of it it was logical. Just like his proposed strategies for altering our energy dependence, nothing is too radical or too hypothetical. What the man says makes sense. Not only that, it's stuff anybody can understand and support. Friedman doesn't ask us to abandon our cars right now and build a wind turbine in our backyard, but he does ask us to speak up and demand our government pass incentives and provide funding to enable research and development of cleaner energy and more efficient processes.

While there were times I found my mind wandering as I read, overall, this book held just the right combination of passion and intelligence to be extremely engaging. I couldn't help talking about what I was learning with everyone. This book made me understand that I can play a role in saving the world and I finished the book with hope for changes to come.

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