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Posts Tagged ‘thomas l. friedman

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution, and How It Can Renew America

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So many people hate Thomas Friedman, and so I would never tell them this, but I kind of like the guy’s books.  Granted, his writing is not by any stretch of the imagination all people should read about foreign relations, but it’s a good start and hell, he’s not nearly as dry as some people.  Or as humorless.  Plus, controversies and criticisms keep us all entertained.

Therefore, whether you like Friedman may be irrelevant, and I think the truth of his thesis stands: Corporations are not going to move to energy efficient products/processes because it’s the right thing to do (though it is).  It also has to be profitable for them.  Secondly, if American corporations don’t start working on it big time, the Chinese will, and then we’ll be buying all of our energy efficient products from them.  Now, there’s a zillion different ways to get from point A to point B, but it’s long past time to get started.

Friedman makes the excellent point that 16% of the healthcare budget goes into research, but less than 1% of the budget for energy goes toward research.  Ramp that up and we could make the technology- which is already there- much more accessible by decreasing size and increasing production, both of which would bring down costs.

This book only served to reinforce my view that corporations aren’t individuals, and as much as we might want them to do something because “it’s the right thing to do,” if it’s actually going to happen, it needs to be profitable for them.  Corporations are not in the business of helping people; they are in business to make money.  This isn’t a judgment statement, but rather a full recognition on my part that the only way to truly begin handling climate change and sustainable living will involve at the very minimum regulation and incentives, and possibly the small reminder that sooner or later, all businesses have to evolve or risk going extinct.


Written by questionsandanchors

August 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm

The Lexus and The Olive Tree.

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So I was about 10 years late to The Lexus and the Olive Tree party (unsurprising given that it has sat on my shelves unread for about seven years), but I still found it a fascinating and valuable read.  Thomas Friedman  has long been on my radar for his op-ed column in the New York Times.  I find him to be a smart, insightful writer, and look forward to his take on events around the globe.

In The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman addresses the tensions between “the drive for prosperity and development, symbolized by the Lexus, and the desire to retain identity and traditions, symbolized by the olive tree.”  He ties together global news stories and interweaves his own experiences, and by midway through the book, I was looking at the international page totally differently.  My Google friends probably wondered why I was suddenly sharing items about the Greek debt or accounting procedures in China.

And still, I considered this reading to be only a start, which is why I’m now hip-deep in Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Friedman’s most recent work about the need for a clean energy revolution.

I’m tempted to send every policymaker I know a copy of both books.

Written by questionsandanchors

April 23, 2010 at 5:45 pm