By Thomas L. Friedman
Allen Lane, Hardback, $54.99
“In the green revolution we’re having, everyone’s a winner, nobody has to give up anything, and the adjective that most often modifies “green revolution” is “easy”. That’s not a revolution. That’s a party. We’re actually having a green party…But in America, at least, it is mostly a costume party. It’s all about looking green – and everyone’s a winner.” Hot, Flat, and Crowded, p 205.
The above passage indicates Friedman’s cynicism at the manner in which America is facing up to the three challenges of what he dubs as the Energy Climate era: Climate change, globalisation and rapid population growth.
According to the US Patent Office, “Green” was the single most trademarked term in 2007. Friedman argues that the harsh realities of Climate change and the developing world’s ballooning middle class will not be something we can achieve with a simple greenwash. The revolution will require difficult decisions, strong leadership and a great deal of change.
Friedman discusses the issues with a focus on America, though it seems his definition of the word ‘America’ extends beyond the United States. Friedman is talking about the American lifestyle and the exponential growth of those on the globe with the desire, and ability, to consume with the same appetite as Americans currently do.
While the book does draw on the usual sets of alarming statistics, Friedman optimistically sees the problems of tomorrow as the opportunities of today. He places great emphasis on the imperative for creativity and innovation, and the chance this time of crisis offers America to emerge, once again, as a respected leader.
Friedman’s anecdotal style makes the book an enjoyable read, making it easy to see why the book has received global acclaim – Hot Flat and Crowded was the winner of the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year in 2008.
The book is made up of 17 chapters, and will be published as Version 2.0 in hardback with an 18th chapter containing ideas, opinions and solutions offered by readers. To contribute to the Chapter 18 project, visit Friedman’s website.
Reviewed by Willow Henderson and Lucy Foster, November 2008