Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hot, Flat, and Crowded, by Thomas L. Friedman

The full title of this book is Hot, Flat, and Crowded - Why We Need A Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America. I read Friedman because he always says interesting things. The US and indeed the world, is in deep shit, environmentally.

However, I am Canadian and as most Canadians do and what our Country does, is muddle through things. We will muddle through this environment thing. Canada never goes to extremes that the US does and we are generally quite happy about that. This book is available on Amazon; see the panel to the right side.

If you want to read a typical review on this book, see www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/hot-flat-and-crowded/ or see www.wired.com/culture/culturereviews/magazine/16-09/pl_print. or see www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/27/politics.climatechange. To read an excerpt from this book, see www.nytimes.com/2008/09/10/books/chapters/chapter-hot-flat-crowded.html. Thomas Friedmand has his own site at www.thomaslfriedman.com/.

Treating pollution as an externality is dangerous. Past Civilizations fell because they destroyed their environment. One quote I love in this book is on page 259. “Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth. If you learn nothing else from this book besides this, you will do very well.

The other very interesting thing he quotes is Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider. He asks, “Can democracy survive complexity?” on page 406. “It is so difficult. It is multi-scale, multidisciplinary, with large certainty in some areas and small certainty in others. It is irreversible and reversible and we won’t know how we did until it is over. We will only know forty years later. That is why climate complexity is a challenger to democracy.”

An interesting suggestion is that since the price of oil is so high and it is therefore pushing innovation, we should keep the price of oil high. If it comes down, we should have a tax that automatically comes in and keep the price high. That is if oil is $100 a barrel, and it does to $90, we should have $10 a barrel tax.

All in all, this is very good book about a current and complex problem.

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