Book Review: Hot, Flat and Crowded

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman was a excellent read.  I have to admit that some books along these lines are very boring to read since they don’t really explore too much.  Yet in this case Thomas has linked up population growth, climate change and geopolitical issues to produce a book that I had a hard time putting down.

In general the book  is in two parts.  Part one explains the problems of how the world is becoming hot (climate change), flat (increased communications) and crowded (population growth).  Then he starts liking up some of the issues like with crowded and hot meet up the problems multiply.  He also touches on some geopolitical implications of all this including China-US and US-Middle East and how in reality the US addiction to oil is directly and indirectly funding both sides of the war in Iraq.

The second part of the book is the plan to do something.  I like that fact he points out a few very importantly concepts:

  1. Going green in a big way will not be easy.  Frankly it will be lots of hard work and lots of dollars to get there.
  2. You don’t need a climate change treaty to get moving.  If the US started moving towards clean energy in a huge way and then started exporting the technology you would see big changes sooner than later.
  3. If green takes off in a huge way, it won’t be ‘green’ anymore.  It will just be the way we live our lives and do our business.

In some regards Thomas is a bit over optimistic, specifically with a smart grid.  It will help out a lot with the utilities going to more wind power, but what is really needed is the ability of electric cars to act a giant battery bank for the country.  The ability to shape loads and shift power generation and demand through time will be huge to change the way business is done for power companies.

Overall it was an excellent read that linked up a number of important issues and how to solve one major issue like climate change can have good secondary effect that help other problems like the US addiction to oil and its associated political issues.

So if you read the book what did you think?