04 October 2009

Global warming, competition, and more people

So, I picked up a copy of Thomas L. Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded at the Northfield Library.

Friedman seems like a reasonable observer. However, a decade ago I tried to read The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and couldn't get far because his explanations of his observations seemed so incomplete.

This time, I couldn't read very far either. Friedman's subtitle is "Why we need a green revolution and how it can renew America." I don't need to be persuaded.

My problem is that it's depressing to read about why we need a green revolution, when it seems so impossible. Friedman himself catalogs the reasons: we're walling ourselves off from the rest of the world (one of the reasons the Olympic committee didn't want to send the summer games to Chicago) and the national attitude seems to be that IF there's really a problem, we'll get around to it in our own good time.

Of course it didn't help to read Scott Canon writing in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, that we can't call on politicians to lead us out the big messes we're in now. Because making things better is going to require sacrifice. And we all know what happened to politicians who asked Americans to make sacrifices. Remember Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, and Ross Perot?

Even when I skipped ahead to the section titled, "How We Move Forward," I kept feeling worse and worse. I read nothing that would lead me to have a bit of hope. Friedman's insistence that it's the creativity and entrepreneurship so powerful in American culture that will lead us out of the woods doesn't convince me. Of course, I didn't read the whole thing.

Did you read Hot, Flat, and Crowded? What did you think?

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