The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Review of: Friedman, Thomas L. Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America

Review of: Friedman, Thomas L. Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Thomas L. Friedman, in Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution And How It Can Renew America, provides solutions for a planet Earth that cannot accommodate growing populations, and economic expectations of modern development, in the midst of massive climate change. For the last century, economic engines have been fueled by oil, gas, and coal–fossil-fuels which produce carbon emissions. Scientist, to their best estimation, believe that carbon emissions have caused the phenomenon of carbon particulates in the atmosphere creating “the greenhouse effect.” Hence why the world needs to consider alternatives to fossil-fuel based energy.

Because of these “greenhouses gases,” the earth’s eco-system is hampered in regulating the normal cooling and warming cycles. It is a fact, regardless of any opinion in denial, that climate change is occurring. Recorded and accurate climate data over almost 250 to 300 years proves it. Recorded hydro-logical data, taken from ice cores samples in Antarctica, extend back 100-200,000 years, providing stronger evidence that something is amiss. As for the “greenhouse effect,” strong evidence exists that carbon particulates play a major role in the cause of climate change. However, a lot is not known about the interplay of the factors and causes.

Regardless of any believers in the fanatic fringe on either side of the debate, the best climate models and the world’s most advanced super computers simply have no reliable methodology, data, or historical record to prove one way or another how the carbon particulates and/or other unknown facts will result in the effects. There are simply too many variables at play, and the majority of variables, simply cannot as of yet be expressed in reliable numbers, numbers being the language of science. Climate change IS happening, however. How it will turn out is at best an educated hypothesis. The best guess might be somewhere in between the poles of debate.

Something will radically change. Nonetheless, even without all the data we need,, assumptions can be made; for example, we have the technology to make some significant impact in reducing carbon emissions; such change would increase the conservation of energy and its better application; energy (since the invention of fire) is required to feed, clothe, and shelter people, and to employ them in the very basic survival functions of production and distribution; and finally, efficient energy systems of production, transfer and use are a net savings on investments over the long-term.

Friedman, who authored The World Is Flat, asserts in Hot, Flat and Crowded that the many of communication, design, production/assemly, and transportation revolutions of the last 20 years of globalized connection can be used to create a “green economy.” The goal of such a “green revolution,” as he states it, is to create an intricate mix of the communications, production/assembly, and transportation ideas in a public and private market of incentives and disincentives to create “negative carbon footprints;” i.e. green economies with maximum efficiency and less use of fossil-fuels.

Whether it is electric cars run by batteries that sell their excess idled power, or better building design and assembly to utilize maximum natural light and solar cooling and heating systems, ,many of his allegories exist in small-scale experiments or in genesis form in places around the world. The technology exists. These depend on a wide-spread use of micro-chip monitoring and control to maximize efficiency and rebuilding America’s entire electrical generation, transfer, and application grids, which are now grossly inefficient. If America seizes the moment and leads the world down this path of green economic renewal, it will provide unlimited strategic political-economic and socio-cultural advantages. But, the author warns, if another country (e.g. China) or other countries (e.g. China, India and Japan) take the lead, America would hit terminal decline as a world power.

There is more logic to go “green” than even Friedman might recognize. Even without climate change pushing an initiative for “green” technologies, green is more efficient in the use of resources. Whether water, food, goods or oil, more efficiency is ultimately more profitable. A nation using less energy to do more increases economic power. Economic power is the basis for any political power or moral ascendancy in the local community or the community of nations. At its ultimate, economic power and political power translate into military power, and if one nation has the moral will to use that power for good or ill, the United States of America needs to serve its own interests in that regard.

It might take the US’s entire yearly economic output (our GDP, or gross domestic product) every year over the course of a decade to transfer the industrial-era capital infrastructure and investment into a “green” society. But not doing so is unacceptable. One just might think of better individual, market and community education and initiatives beyond those suggested in Hot, Flat and Crowded. The world is shrinking in the globalized order. The population is rising. Things are changing, politically and economically, socially and culturally. Not enough resources or energy exist to allow every nation to achieve a middle class status with just fossil fuels. Nature might kill us if nations try the old way. However, America is poised with the skill and tech-base to do it. Better us, than anyone else!!


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