Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thomas Friedman: Geo-Greenism Giveaway
The World Is Hot, Flat, and Crowded

New York Times columnist and book-writing machine Thomas Friedman has written a new book, to be published Sept. 8, focusing on the twin energy and climate crises and their interrelationships. Friedman has sometimes been criticized in the past for being too enthusiastic a cheerleader for globalization, overgeneralizing, extrapolating and exaggerating trends in such books as "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" and, most recently, "The World Is Flat". However, he is certainly an entertaining writer on crucially important topics. His previous books have been very popular; "The World Is Flat" was a #1 bestseller, and he has won three Pulitzer prizes and a National Book Award. (See for links to reviews of "The World Is Flat".)

The new book, called "Hot, Flat, and Crowded", is subtitled "Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How it Can Renew America". According to the promotional material,
Friedman proposes that an ambitious national strategy—which he calls "Geo-Greenism"—is not only what we need to save the planet from overheating; it is what we need to make America healthier, richer, more innovative, more productive, and more secure.
Of particular interest to meteorologists and climatologists interested in bringing the real science to a clearly confused public is this question raised in the discussion guide available on the author's web site:
In chapter five, Friedman describes the controversy that ensued when meteorologist Heidi Cullen tried to educate her audience about global warming. What is the best way to inform those who tune out such messages, which they believe are tantamount to “politicizing the weather”?
It remains to be seen, of course, whether Friedman "gets it" on the climate issue, but preliminary indications sound like the author is promoting the thesis long supported by this Climate Capitalist: "It's the economy, stupid." No matter what the wingnuts, ideologues, and crackpots want to believe about the Big Climate conspiracy, global warming is ultimately an economic issue. The global marketplace, if it's allowed to function without the current bias toward outmoded CO2-generating technologies, will determine that the cost of inaction is much more than the cost of attacking the problem. If you don't believe that, how's your GM stock doing lately? Here's a clue, if you don't watch such things: GM recently hit a 50-year (not a typo) low.

As a promotion for Friedman's new book, the publisher is offering free downloads of the audiobook of "The World Is Flat" and a preview of "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" in exchange for signing up for their email newsletter. The offer is good only through next Monday, August 11.

Today's Friedman column, Learning to Speak Climate, is a dispatch from the front, so to speak; it's an account and interpretation of his viewing of glaciers in Greenland. The previous one was about a visit to an ice research center above the Arctic Circle.

Friedman earlier this year discussed climate change with the founders of Google. Last year, he was the keynote speaker at the MIT celebration of the publication of all MIT courses online through OpenCourseware. The introduction to the MIT lecture alludes to the 2003 Yale Commencement address which the Climate Capitalist attended. At the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival, Friedman delivered the presentation "Green is the New Red, White, and Blue" (Part I, Part II, and Part III).


EliRabett said...

Friedman is shallow and always wrong. His only claim to fame is the real estate he occupies on the NY Times op ed page.

Steve Scolnik said...

Hey, give the man a break. Don't you think "always wrong" is just a bit harsh? He does know how to sell books. The jury is still out on his take on the climate issue, but if he does manage to cut through the political clutter and get people thinking about real solutions, he will have served a useful purpose. It's not completely impossible.

Lee said...

I agree with Steve Scolnik, the phrase "always wrong" is quite offensive. I suggest you read the book before you make any assumptions about it or the author. Thomas Friedman makes a solid arguement within the book and supports it meticulously. The book is well written and I highly recommend it.

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