Friday, March 27, 2009

Hot, Flat & Crowded

(Author's note: I wrote this the day after seeing Thomas Friedman but for whatever reason, forgot to publish it).

The other night I attended the lecture of one of my most favorite journalists, Thomas Friedman. It was well worth the $10 and even though I forgot my book to have him sign, it was still a memorable time.

Most people know Friedman from his column in the New York Times but I much prefer his books. In The World is Flat, he talks about the benefits of globalization to the United States and other countries world wide. My strong support of globalization makes me a bad Democrat, I've been told; but those who told me probably never read this book.

In his new book, Hot, Flat & Crowded, Friedman discusses how, because more and more people around the world are becoming more like Americans, our world is literally becoming hot, flat and crowded.

Hot, because of the very serious and very real threat on our world of global warming. Friedman joked that Al Gore needed to write the first sentence of his Op-ed on global warming as: "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Global warming isn't happening as I said in my movie. It's happening MUCH more quickly."

Flat, because more and more people around the world are becoming "middle class." They are becoming more like us Americans, specifically our middle class. The larger this group becomes, the more resources we will use more quickly which leads to...a increase in global warming.

Crowded, because of a serious increase of the world's population. The more people, the flatter and hotter it becomes.

Friedman discussed the solutions to these problems and fears that people just don't care enough to change. That, and because our culture almost forces us to make things as easy and as cheap as possible. His argument is that saving the world isn't easy. It can be cheap, in the long run, but we must be committed for the long haul.

One of the major solutions, Friedman argues, is that we need to seriously reduce our dependence on foreign oil (surprise!) and invest our time and energies (literally) into new Energy Technology (ET). His theory is that the country that first develops the best, most cost efficient and practical ET's will become the new Superpower (my word, not his). America has long been the leader in new ideas, technology and ideologies. This won't last long the more our world becomes hot, flat & crowded, however.

Our economy is already seriously strained so could you imagine if another country (Japan or India) were to come up with new ET's and suddenly jobs and money WORLDWIDE will all be funneled to them? What would our country end up looking like?

There is a lot to think about after reading any of Friedman's books. Listening to him inspired me and I only hope I can actually do enough to help.

But I guess all revolutions happened with single people all working together.