Earth Day: Hot, Flat and Crowded

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Happy Earth Day! Hot Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How it Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman was on my TBR list for a while, and when I realized it was also on President Obama’s reading list, I figured that now was the perfect time to read it.

This book is divided into five parts:

  1. When the Market and Mother Nature Hit the Wall
  2. Where We Are
  3. How We Move Forward
  4. China
  5. America

With chapters ranging from energy poverty, oil and geopolitics, and why a green revolution in the United States “to end oil addition” will help us promote democracy abroad and greatly increase chances of developing renewable energy alternatives that helps everyone, not just us. The 2008 Recession was a wake-up call, Friedman says, “a warning heart attack” in more ways than one.

“This was not just a deep economic slowdown that we can recover from and then blithely go back to our old ways…we have been growing in a way that is not healthy for either our markets or our planet, either our banks or our forests, for either our retailers or our rivers.”

Here is what led to the title of the book, Friedman’s main argument from the first addition in 2008 in which he stated:

“[the world] was getting hot (global warming), flat (the rise of high-consuming middle classes all over the world), and crowded (on track to adding roughly a billion people every thirteen years).”

But don’t worry, there’s still time to change our ways and become the leader in developing and implementing strategies to combat the environmental chaos that has been the last few years, and to power a green revolution. It is about us, now, and it is urgent. Every chapter, every page, had me nodding along in agreement because of how effectively Friedman presents his arguments, with research, facts, examples from the past, and professional insights. This then made me a little sad that if someone like a me, a twentysomething English major (ha) with no direct experience in anything related to this field can understand this and the importance, then why do so many of our (illegally?) elected officials refuse to see facts that are right in front of their faces? *sigh*.

Here are the key problems that we are currently facing:

“the growing demand for ever scarcer energy supplies and natural resources; a massive transfer of wealth to oil-rich countries and their petrodictators; disruptive climate change; energy poverty, which is sharply dividing the world into electricity haves and electricity have-nots; and rapidly accelerating biodiversity loss, and plants and animals go extinct at record rates.”

Finally, Friedman shares a particularly profound Chinese proverb that speaks volumes:

“When the wind changes direction, there are those who build walls and those who build windmills.”

I truly hope we can undo the last six months or so and become a country that gets back to building windmills (quite literally) again, soon.

Are you going to today’s March for Science? Bill Nye is going to be speaking today!

2 thoughts on “Earth Day: Hot, Flat and Crowded

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