In "Hot, Flat, and Crowded," New York Times columnist and globalization exponent Thomas Friedman pleads for Americans to wake up to the perils and opportunities of an emerging resource-strapped world. The author comes across as a blend of Will Rogers, Jack Welch and Norman Vincent Peale—a plain-spoken citizen outraged at the bullheadedness of U.S. politicians, yet optimistic about the power of ingenuity and finely crafted policy to avert disaster.
The Problem: The world is getting crowded and hot. More people tapping computers and on the road means more competition for resources, more emissions. It's all "intensifying the extinction of plants and animals, [and] strengthening petro-dictatorship." If we don't act, life in 2040 could look like a cross between "Waterworld" and "Mad Max."
The Answer: Ignore the calls to drill here and now. We need a Code Green: a national project that includes subsidies for alternative energy, as well as mechanisms to make emissions more expensive, promote public and private research projects and change individual behavior. We should conserve here, be more efficient now.
The Result: Friedman believes that rallying around the green flag will create jobs, save the polar bear, allow China to develop without destroying the environment and restore our national greatness. All we need is leadership and focus. Of course, judging by the media-political complex's recent obsession with swine cosmetics, it sure looks like we're failing.