Image via WikipediaThis book summary and reviewed Hot, Flat, and Crowded was prepared by Ryan Charbonnet while an Accounting student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman is an interesting book. It tells us about how if we, as citizens of Earth, don’t start managing our output of greenhouse gasses our children’s children will be out of luck. This is a re-release of his original Hot, Flat, and Crowded; he added two chapters to the beginning of the book to add more current issues to it. He is calling this period of economic trouble “The Great Recession” and also the transition into the “Energy-Climate Era.” Friedman almost blames this on the United States saying that the rest of the world is trying to become more Americanized. More and more countries around the world are growing at astronomical rates. In fact, India grew by 156 billion people in the last decade, that’s as many people as the populations of Britain, France, and Spain combined.
Friedman also discusses how economies around the world are bringing the masses out of poverty level incomes and bringing them into the middle class. This very rapid expansion of the middle class is more than the economy can take. Many of the developing countries around the world are rapidly expanding and burning as much if not more fossil fuels than America is.
We as Americans have come up with alternatives to these fossil fuels not to become completely independent from them, but to at least become less dependent on them. We are building fields on windmill stations, relying more on solar energy, and even building electric and hybrid cars. The windmills alone will help eliminate a lot of the emissions of green house gasses not to mention the amount of people starting to line their roofs with solar panels to break free from the power companies. The hybrid cars now are getting great mileage, some cars getting upwards of forty-five miles per gallon. Even SUVs’ are getting thirty-five plus miles per gallon.
Friedman also states and in my opinion is correct on that we as Americans, even though we are changing slowly to be more energy efficient, cannot preach to other countries about the consumption of fossil fuels because that would turn us into hypocrites.
The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from Hot, Flat, and Crowded.
1. If there is any way possible to become more energy efficient, do it.
2. There are many economies that are developing and may become as strong as America’s.
3. The urge for everyone to go “green” is getting bigger.
4. Big SUV’s for company vehicles are no longer acceptable.
5. By the year 2100, if we keep going as we have been, the temperature will have risen 3-5 degrees over pre-industrial conditions causing the ice caps to melt and water levels rising.
6. By the year 2050 the population of the world is predicted to be 9 billion people.
7. By 2020 the Chinese will have the largest bloc of tourists in the world.
8. From 1990 to 1999, global CO2 emissions increased at a rate of 1.1 percent per year. And from 2000 to 2006 we tripled that rate.
9. “Going Green” is now becoming a political issue.
10. Roughly 30 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation.
Full Summary of Hot, Flat, and Crowded
I. Why Citibank, Iceland’s banks, and the Ice banks of Antarctica all melted down at the same time
This chapter describes that as Americans were borrowing more and more money and spending more and more money in the years preceding the recession that began in 2008 that more people became caught up in that lifestyle and the economy was booming. People became less responsible with their money and funding, and we entered a period of dishonest accounting which allowed firms or individuals to underprice risks, privatized gains, and socialize losses and get away with it.
The major problem with the economy right now started with the housing market. People were able to obtain sub-prime loans and mortgages on their homes even if they didn’t make enough money to pay the notes. The banks weren’t worried about what this could do because as soon as they made the mortgage they sold the mortgages on the open stock market and these were labeled as triple A which is the highest quality marking a stock can get in terms of risk.
The real problem came when the housing market collapsed and no one could sell their houses for what they played for them and weren’t able to pay the notes. The banks could no longer demand the note be played because the mortgages had been sold. Of course these were still being sold on the market as triple “An” even when the loans weren’t being met.
II. Dumb As We Wanna Be
This Chapter describes how the period from 11-9-1989 to 9-11-01 was a very interesting period in American history. He called it a period for the triumph for unrivaled American ingenuity, but also a period of crisis for the American spirit. We relied too much on credit and carbon, and forgot the core values that made America such a rich and powerful nation that was respected, trusted, and inspiring to many developing nations. Until the bottom fell out. Subprime mortgages and very unethical decisions flooded the market and causing it to collapse.
III. The Regeneration
This chapter is about we can achieve sustainability and the values that support sustainable behavior. Economical sustainability is when it protects, restores or regenerates the environment rather than degrading it. “The same could be said about the financial section, a market financially sustainable when it fosters practices, investments, and innovations that promote long term growth of the economy. “ This means that the only way for the economy to be able to handle itself it to be able to stand on its own feet for a long period of time, not just a few days or weeks.
IV. Today’s Date: 1 E.C.E. Today’s Weather: Hot, Flat, and Crowded
We’re going to call this “new era” the Energy-Climate Era. This is where we are in a climate change crisis, one in which temperatures are rising and the polar caps are melting. The five key problems in this book are finally specifically labeled in this fifth chapter; they are: “the growing demand for ever scarcer energy supplies and natural resources; a massive transfer of wealth of oil rich countries and their petrodictators; disruptive climate change; energy poverty, which is sharply dividing the world into electricity haves and have-nots.” There is also a rapid increase of plants and animals going extinct. If all of these problems aren’t dealt with properly, if just one isn’t dealt with properly it could cause irreversible conditions that will affect all generations to come.
V. Our Carbon Copies (or Too Many Americans)
In this chapter Friedman travels to several cities around the globe to describe what is going on in them. He describes how two cities, Doha and Dalian have changes so much that he hardly recognized them when he first arrived there after only a few years. These two cities have grown so much that there a re now skyscrapers that have been erected and are currently being built. These buildings and city expansions are a direct result of the average income per capita rising. Again Friedman is blaming these conditions on America because these people are aspiring for an American way of life.
VI. Fill ‘Er Up with Dictators
This chapter describes our dependence on foreign oil, and how badly we need it. As G.W. Bush said in 2006 America is “addicted to oil.” The chapter also tells that the middle eastern countries almost control us by providing us with our biggest and worst addiction, oil; The one thing that really and truly runs this country. Our oil addiction makes global warming worse and worse and OPEC, our petrodictators even stronger.
VII. Global Weirding : Climate Change
This chapter starts with the water temperature that fueled hurricane Katrina and if we had anything to do with them. The water temperatures during that week were a full two degrees higher than average causing the enormous storm to gain the power to top the levies and flood the city of New Orleans. This was an act of God as it is called. This cannot be neither controlled by nor caused by man. It later goes on to describe Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth documentary and how the doubters of global warming are paid by the fossil fuel companies or republicans who refuse to believe it because they refuse to accept the only solution, stronger government and stricter policies.
VIII. The Age of Noah
This chapter is about how we as people are destroying plant and animal life around the world. About how we are destroying the ecosystems with expanding further and further out. It talks about how certain plants and fungi cure or help treat certain medical conditions and how we may never know what else is out there if we kill everything off.
IX. Energy Poverty.
The term energy poverty originated with Robert Freling talking about developing nations not having electricity and with him helping provide them with it. This is caused by the lack of power sources in these areas and/or the all of a sudden population booms in these areas.
X. Green is the New Red, White, and Blue
This chapter begins to tell us that we have the opportunity to change the situation. Friedman states that these conditions cannot be hidden any longer and that we NEED to change. He states that going “green” is “geopolitical,” “geostrategic,” ”capitalistic,” and “patriotic.” He talks about how going green will make America stronger and solve our problems by helping the world solve its problems, and we help the world solve its problem by solving our own problems.
XI. 205 Easy Ways to Save the Earth
Friedman “Googled” for books and magazine articles about how to save the earth. He found numerous articles about the topic and decided to accept that all of these articles may or may not be correct but all have the right intentions. He describes that even though we do “green” things it still isn’t enough it’s merely a mask of what needs to be done, but we’re working on it.
XII. The Energy Internet: When it Meets ET
“Revolution is not a dinner party, not an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly and modestly”- Mao Zedong. This quote simply implies that if we’re going to have a “green revolution,” then we can’t just say that we are. We have to be one hundred percent committed and all at once and to give it all we have. Otherwise it simply won’t work. This is the first of four chapters that describes the Clean Energy System. It describes that 30 percent of CO2 emissions come from the transportation section in our daily lives. Friedman talks about taking the emissions caused by buildings and transportation together and making them cleaner, safer electrons. It still sounds very far into the future for me though.
XIII. The Stone Age Didn’t End Because We Ran Out of Stones.
Again Friedman talks about this Clean Energy System but now how we will develop one or run one. He talks about how it would help America and the rest of the world but not how or who can develop this system. He describes that we have not developed this system to get the innovation that we need in clean power. He goes on to describe how every other field of business has seen innovation but not finding a more environmentally friendly way to supply us with clean energy.
XIV. If It Isn’t Boring, It Isn’t Green
This Chapter discusses how GE Transportation in Erie, Penn. has had a trade surplus with China, Mexico, and Brazil. It also discusses about how their innovation has created the most efficient and powerful locomotives on the market. The reason that GE transportation had to create such an efficient locomotive is because the EPA developed stricter emissions policies for locomotives. Freidman is implying that is the government would place these regulations on energy and electricity companies that they would have no choice but to develop new ways to create and deliver electricity.
XV. A Million Noah’s, A Million Arks
This Chapter is discussing biodiversity in depth with Indonesia and several other countries saying that everything is intertwined and correlated in one way or another. Think about it, we have to save the plants and animals from extinction because what do we as human beings consume to survive? Plants and animals.
XVI. Outgreening al-Queda
Friedman makes an interesting point about out-greening opponents. It can be a military movement. These officers came together looking for better ways to power their stations in the field whether it be dessert or jungle.
XVII. Can Red China Become Green China?
Now that China has a very capitalistic economy, they have been actively competing with the United States for several years now. China is one fifth of all humanity. China is now the world’s biggest carbon emitter. Friedman states if we can convince China to transition into clean power we could actually slow the rate of global warming.
XVIII. China For a Day
This last chapter in the book describes that china has banned the sale of thin plastic grocery bags in order to get consumers to use the reusable baskets or satchels that they purchase and bring back and forth to the marketplace with them. Friedman says this revolution cannot happen soon enough and that it will help the entire globe, but America has to do it first for others to follow.
Why I think:
· The author is one of the most brilliant people around…or is full of $%&#, because:
Friedman is a very political man. He wrote this book on the basis of three hot topics today. I’m not arguing two of the points just that one has many fallacies. The main topic in my opinion of this whole book he was arguing was incorrect. Well, incorrect still maybe a little over board, I will provide you with information that will argue my point and you can make your opinion.
Global warming in my opinion is not happening; lets face it is an opinion right now after the last winter that we had. About thirty years ago there was massive concern with Global COOLING! That’s right many of us will remember this. A new ice age was predicted to fall upon us and the government decided that it needed to step in then. There was talk of the shorelines receding destroying lakes, streams, other estuaries, and wetlands. This is completely 100 percent opposite of what we’re hearing today with global warming. There are “To date, 19,700 scientists, including 2,660 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists, have signed a petition sponsored by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine that discounts global warming. Its accompanying report concludes:
There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing or can be expected to cause catastrophic changes in global temperatures or weather. To the contrary, during the 20 years with the highest carbon dioxide levels, atmospheric temperatures have decreased.” On the other hand since 1997 only 1,559 scientists have signed a petition supporting global warming.
· If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:
1. I would have provided more concrete evidence on Global Warming.
2. I would have supported that the Earth’s climate actually has cycles and we are actually in a cooling phase.
3. Crowded I would have mentioned policies like China’s population control policy where families can only have one child, and this even becoming a problem over there.
· Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:
1. It made me realize that the world’s population really is growing at astronomical rates.
2. It made me research global warming on my own and realize that it’s just another government policy to add more taxes.
3. I actually researched the “Flat” issue on this book and found that Greece and several other countries’ economies are collapsing. Germany however is doing rather well right now.
· I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:
1. This book has taught me not to trust the housing market.
2. If I find myself in bank management one day, there will be extensive credit check on every mortgage that is applied for. The qualified will obtain them and the unqualified will not.
3. I will not worry about Global Warming; this is a political issue as you may tell I feel strongly against.
· Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:
“That environmental movement reserves a hallowed place for those books or films that have stirred people from their slumber and awoken them to the fragility of the planet: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” Bill McKibben’s “End of Nature” and, most recently, Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Thomas L. Friedman’s new book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” may lack the soaring, elegiac qualities of those others. But it conceivably just might goad America’s wealthiest to face the threat of climate change and do something about it.” This comes straight from the New York Times and the review was written by Jonathan Freedman. He goes on to support his fellow journalist saying that even thought this book may not have the impact that Gore’s documentary did, but it does concentrate of probable solutions and allows him to “vent.” This word right here describes this whole book very accurately. This man wrote this book out of passion and decided that he would only prove his side and not the opposition.
Freedman, J. Eco-nomics. The New York Times. Retrieved May 10,2010, from
Ritenbaugh, R.T. A Cool Appraisal Of Global Warming. Retrieved May 10, 2010 from http://bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/PW/k/737.
Contact Info: To contact the author of this “Summary and Review of Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” please email email@example.com.
David C. Wyld (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also maintains compilations of his student’s publications regarding book reviews (http://wyld-about-books.blogspot.com/) and international foods (http://wyld-about-food.blogspot.com/).
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Originally Published: Summary and Review of Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution- And How It Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman