Hot, Flat, and Crowded

13 09 2008

Few days ago, I attended Thomas Friedman’s promotion lecture for his new book – Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–And How It Can Renew America.

Personally, I am not a great fan of his books. I have read his previous book – The World is Flat in which he describes the phenomenon of globalization in his bit of a sensationalizing style. But I liked few points he made during this lecture.

He starts his presentation with –

“German engineering, Swiss innovation, American nothing.”

He says that US has has lost its edge in post cold-war era, because of the absence of a worthy competitor like USSR . He also speaks about the emergence of middle-class to affluence, everywhere in the world. Lot of countries have come up with their own niches – German technology, Chinese manufacturing, Indian service sector etc. This has led to affluent centers – small Americas (that is his term) all around the world like Doha of Qutar, Dalian of China. This in turn has led to enormous energy consumption all over the world. Now all these small Americas will lead to scarcer energy resources. More energy consumption has given rise to pollution, global warming. This coupled with exponential population growth is going to make Earth a terrible place to live. In short, the world is becoming hot – due to global warming, flat- due to globalization, and crowded – due to population growth.

He predicts the future superpower will be the one that has supremacy over ‘Energy Technology’ i.e. cost-effective ideas, resources, and infrastructure to generate pollution-free power sources at very large scale. I liked the point where he says that although the World has moved into 21st century, we still hopelessly rely on 19th century energy resources – thermal & hydro power, fossil fuels. Needless to say, he emphasized the dire need of nuclear power reactors in 21st century.

An innovative concept (not his) that came during his lecture was of Carbon Trading. Each manufacturing firm is given limits & license for x amount of carbon emissions. Less pollutant the firm is, more carbon credit it has. This credit can be sold to other companies thus prompting companies to be less pollutant by luring them with credit-carrot.

He also makes us the modern Noahs. We are the first generation that has to seriously care about Earth’s diminishing biodiversity – rapid extinction of animal & plant species.

He openly criticizes Al Gore for not seriously publicizing his environmental activism until now. It sure makes you wonder what this man has done for environment apart from writing a book in year 2008.

Anyways, I feel that not only America but entire world needs to care about issues like these. Its no more about one country’s supremacy over others, it is about saving the Earth – our only home in the entire universe.

Sources:

1. http://tinyurl.com/noah-ark

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_is_Flat

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot,_Flat,_and_Crowded

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissions_trading

5. http://www.goma.demon.co.uk/eco/carbon-trading.jpg

6. http://tinyurl.com/friedman-book-cover