Thomas L. Friedman has moved on, though people are still talking about - and buying, to the tune of 3 million copies - his seminal work The World Is Flat. Friedman released an updated and expanded hardcover edition of the book in 2006, and a further updated paperback version last summer, continuing his discussion of the economical and cultural implications of globalism. So what's his next subject?As a foreign-affairs columnist for the New York Times, Friedman gets firsthand insight into the state of the world and is an expert at synthesizing developing trends. He puts forth his latest observations in Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America, which goes on sale Sept 8.
Yes, this is another book about climate change and going green, but in typical Friedman fashion, he's got a slightly different approach and message. Green may be in, he says, but that's not enough. We are now in the "Energy-Climate Era," a time defined by environmental and energy issues much as the Cold War era was defined by political ideology. This point escapes most people, and Friedman likens the current green mania - ad campaigns, media hype, rhetoric - to a party, rather than a revolution. He stresses the need for significant policy changes, as opposed to relatively minor behavioral ones, stating: "It is much more important to change your leaders than your light bulbs." Chapters in Hot, Flat, and Crowded discuss petropolitics, Americans' attitudes toward energy and climate issues (they range from blasé; to putting it off till tomorrow to solve it now, he says), different fuel sources ("fuels from hell" vs. "fuels from heaven"), and the obstacles blocking those all-important policy changes. While Hot, Flat, and Crowded focuses heavily on the United States, one of Friedman's major points is that the green revolution must involve international measures. Ending Third World "energy poverty," factoring in geopoltics and even learning from Chinese autocrats, are all elements of Friedman's "geo-greenism." It's a strategy, he says, that is not only good for Americans, it's good for us all.