All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hot, Flat, and Crowded, by Thomas L. Friedman

Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded could have been titled Hot, Flat, Crowded . . . and Scary. Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, spends the majority of the book convincing us how doomed we all are for our gratuitous and reckless use of Earth's natural resources and environment. He cites expert after expert and packs the book with facts like the alarming rate of CO2 growth in the atmosphere, what the analysis of the Greenland Ice Sheet tells us about our climate, and how all we need to do is to step outside our front doors. Daffodils in January? No snow on the mountain tops? Widespread flooding, unusual snowstorms, terrifying hurricanes? All signs of climate change.

But the purpose of the book isn't to terrify or debate. It's to inspire America to greatness, to recognize what we need to do--no, must do--to survive in this new climate and thrive. Here's what Friedman tells those who still might not buy global climate change:

"If those of us who have become concerned about climate change turn out to be wrong--but we refocus America anyway on producing clean electrons and the most energy-efficient vehicles, appliances, and buildings in the world, and we make America the global leader in aiding the protection of tropical forests with cleaner habitats, what is the worst that will happen? Our country will have cleaner air and water, more efficient products, more workers educated in the next global industry, higher energy prices but lower bills, greater productivity, healthier people, and an export industry in clean power products that people across the world will want to buy--not to mention the respect and gratitude of more people around the world than ever. And we'll have to fight fewer wars over natural resources--because if the human race cannot create greater abundance, we will fight over everything that is in shortage, which is going to be a lot of things in a world that is flat, hot, and crowded."

I don't know about you, but by page 213, which is where this paragraph appears, I'm on board. Sign me up. And now tell me what we have to do.

If there is a flaw in Friedman's approach, it is that he doesn't truly address the individual in this plan. While we know that corporations and industry must experience painful change and that increased (initial) energy costs will be painful to the consumer, what becomes of the worker? The one who is laid off because her company is experiencing that painful change, or the worker who can no longer afford the commute to work because of the cost of gas (and the lack of available mass transportation)? This is all part of that pain, too. Pain that significantly impacts our economy in the short term, which has the potential to derail the painful change Friedman opines is required at the political level.

I urge you to read this book. This isn't about recycling cardboard or aluminum cans. In fact, you may find it discouraging to be rinsing and compacting your trash when you consider what is happening in Dubai and China. However, change is happening--both to our climate and our industries. This book will sharpen your awareness and soften your resistance to what must come.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America (Release 2.0-Updated and Expanded edition) was published in 2009 by Picador. Also read The World is Flat, by Friedman, which will give you a sense of what globalization can do and how global corporations can (and have) positively impacted the world. Check out Friedman's website here.

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