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NPR interview Tom Friedman- Hot, Flat, & Crowded

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Friedman writes on world population, the increase of the global middle class, and the growing energy crisis. All of this has contributed to a world that is in desperate need of an energy solution. The thing I like about Friedman's approach is he's optimistic and he's practical. His major points are...


-- The battle over green (energy) will define the first part of the 21st century, just like the battle over red (communism) defined the last half of the 20th century.

-- Everyone needs to accept that oil will never again be cheap...

-- Off-shore drilling may be a temporary fix, but it's not the long-term solution.

-- The fossil-fuel age will end only when we invent our way out of it...

-- The last big innovation in energy production was nuclear power half a century ago, which is an important component to solving our energy problem, but we need additional solutions...

-- In order to further real innovation we need people "throwing crazy dollars at every idea, in every garage, that we have 100,000 people trying 100,000 things, five of which might work, and two might be the next green Google."

-- Friedman emphasizes the practical side of green - "It's the incredible sense of opportunity here. It's not just about saving the polar bears. It's not just about saving three generations from climate change. It's also about rising to the greatest economic opportunity that's come along in a long, long, time."


In the end, he is asking for collaboration and innovation. Of course that begs the question - where does the money come from for all of this? It's always easy to point at the government, but when we look at where real economic solutions have come from it's most often private industry. I wish Friedman would have written on how governments can create environments were private industry is incentivized to create, invent, and discover. Even so, Friedman's book is a needed wake-up call.


Sounds interesting :D


I am currently skeptical about global warming.

But I think there is a middle ground which combines ideas like this without needing to include global warming.


Maybe if I wrote a similar book it would be called "Cold, Flat & Crowded" :D


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He says fixing global warming (no offense Steve :)) would be a "by-product", if we create the systematic change necessary. Global warming itself can't be the incentive. In fact, he suggests we create a whole new language, with no "green, elite, wine & cheese" overtones. Makes sense to me.


To answer that reviewer's question, where does the money come from....there are billions sitting on the sidelines right now, waiting for some congressional support. Sen. Barbara Boxer estimates it far exceeds the dot.com funding.

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I've just listened to the bit where he talks about global warming.


He asks "have you studied the science?"


My answer is.........YES.


He then talks about the IPCC 'science'.


Unfortunately I think when people start talking about global warming, they run the risk of alienating a lot of people.

There are a lot of global warning skeptics out there. And a lot of them ARE scientists.


He has partly alienated me.


I think he sounds rather political. I don't give a jot for the politics. I'm not in the US. To me it's irrelevant.


I care about the science, and finding real solutions to real problems. I think it would be sad if conflict and alienation over global warming had a negative effect on what we do need to do.

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THe World is Not Flat !


Friedman's book spoke optimsitically about globallisation - a spread out of wealth.


That was wrong. What is happening is not so optimistic - it is GLOBAL LEVELING,

with the wealth of many western nations getting hit, and being reduced to the level of the third world.


I used to post about the coming GLOBAL LEVELING, and people used to point me to Friedman's book,

which I enjoyed, but found somewhat naively optimistic

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OK, so my future book is now "Cold, Unequal & Crowded" :D


Actually that sounds a lot better.




Isn't Uneven (Or Bumpy?) the opposite of Flat? ( why Unequal?)

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Isn't Uneven (Or Bumpy?) the opposite of Flat? ( why Unequal?)


Yes, I was going to put that, but decided "unequal" was more apt.

Obviously personal taste and interpretation. I interpreted his flat as meaning equal.


I was thinking afterwards maybe it should be: "Hot, Unequal & Crowded to Cold, Equal and Roomy".


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Taking on the extreme (criminal?) idiocy of the "drill, baby, drill" crowd.

Based on his comments, McCain should be binned, and Obama may deserve a chance,

though he doesnt "get it" yet on Oil addiction

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thomas L. Friedman: Rescue the rescue

By Thomas L. Friedman Published: October 1, 2008


I was channel surfing on Monday, following the stock market's nearly 800-point collapse, when a commentator on CNBC caught my attention. He was being asked to give advice to viewers as to what were the best positions to be in to ride out the market storm. Without missing a beat, he answered: "Cash and fetal."


I'm in both - because I know an unprecedented moment when I see one. I've been frightened for my country only a few times in my life: In 1962, when, even as a boy of 9, I followed the tension of the Cuban missile crisis; in 1963, with the assassination of JFK; on Sept. 11, 2001; and on Monday, when the House Republicans brought down the bipartisan rescue package.


But this moment is the scariest of all for me because the previous three were all driven by real or potential attacks on the U.S. system by outsiders. This time, we are doing it to ourselves. This time, it's our own failure to regulate our own financial system and to legislate the proper remedy that is doing us in.


I've always believed that America's government was a unique political system - one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it.


This is dangerous. We Americans have House members, many of whom I suspect can't balance their own checkbooks, rejecting a complex rescue package because some voters, whom I fear also don't understand, swamped them with phone calls. I appreciate the popular anger against Wall Street, but you can't deal with this crisis this way.


What is worse than a flawed bailout?

This is a credit crisis. It's all about confidence. What you can't see is how bank A will no longer lend to good company B or mortgage company C. Because no one is sure the other guy's assets and collateral are worth anything, which is why the government needs to come in and put a floor under them. Otherwise, the system will be choked of credit, like a body being choked of oxygen and turning blue.


Well, you say, "I don't own any stocks - let those greedy monsters on Wall Street suffer." You may not own any stocks, but your pension fund owned some Lehman Brothers commercial paper and your regional bank held subprime mortgage bonds, which is why you were able refinance your house two years ago. And your local airport was insured by AIG, and your local municipality sold municipal bonds on Wall Street to finance your street's new sewer system, and your local car company depended on the credit marks to finance your auto loan - and now that the credit market has dried up, Wachovia bank went bust and your neighbor lost her secretarial job there.


We're all connected. As others have pointed out, you can't save Main Street and punish Wall Street anymore than you can be in a row boat with someone you hate and think that the leak in the bottom of the boat at his end is not going to sink you, too. The world really is flat. We're all connected. "Decoupling" is pure fantasy.


I totally understand the resentment against Wall Street titans bringing home $60 million bonuses. But when the credit system is imperiled, as it is now, you have to focus on saving the system, even if it means bailing out people who don't deserve it. Otherwise, you're saying: I'm going to hold my breath until that Wall Street fat cat turns blue. But he's not going to turn blue - you are, or we all are. We have to get this right.


/more: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/01/opi.../edfriedman.php

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  • 1 month later...



Saving America Through Energy Innovation


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

By Thomas L. Friedman


Read an excerpt.


Thomas Friedman is a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times.


NPR.org, October 14, 2008 · For better or worse, few journalists fashion neologisms with the zest of New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. In Hot, Flat, And Crowded, his new book about globalization and environmentalism, he puts these word-coinage skills on grand display. For Friedman, we're not living in 2008 A.D. or even 2008 C.E. — we've jumped onto a new timeline, the "Energy-Climate Era," and today's date falls in the year "1 E.C.E."


Friedman sums up his philosophy for 21st-century American energy policy, which he explores here in near-heroic detail and scope, using an equation that he offers with "tongue only slightly in cheek": REEFIGDCPEERPC < TTCOBCOG. Translated, this formula sets the goal of a "renewable energy ecosystem for innovating, generating and deploying clean power, energy efficiency, resource productivity and conservation" that is less expensive than "the true cost of burning coal, oil and gas." Since the "true cost" of burring fossil fuels includes pollution, energy wars and climate change, Friedman argues that we can't afford not to find an alternative.


Yes, the author's embrace of his sui generis terminology is unctuous at best, throw-the-book-through-a-window at worst. But Friedman's no wonk, and he has an uncanny ability to assume accurately what a knowledgeable reader probably already knows about any given subject. Moreover, with three Pulitzers on his shelf and 13 years of Times columns in his portfolio, he knows how to craft a persuasive argument.


To that end, then, Hot, Flat, And Crowded skillfully weaves testimonies from both gung-ho "green" pioneers — folks who want nothing more than a platform from which to tout their oft-ingenious innovations — and from dedicated scientists whose Chicken Little scenarios receive ample and deserved elucidation and validation.


Friedman is at his best when he brings K Street to Main Street, explaining how governmental arcana — price signals, regulatory commissions, agricultural subsidies — quickly metastasize to affect everything from consumer and corporate bank accounts to the health of children's lungs and our ecosystem's biodiversity.


For Friedman, America's need for — and Washington's promotion of — a "green revolution" should lead, like the Space Race of the '50s and '60s before it, to better schools, to a new sector of "green-collar" manufacturing jobs for chronically underemployed youth, and to enhanced moral standing in the global community. Al Qaeda can be defeated if we "out-green" it; petrodictators can be toppled if we quit buying oil from them.


The revolution's benefits are far-reaching and universal, financial and cultural. "This is not about the whales anymore," Friedman argues convincingly in this apposite companion to his bestseller, The World Is Flat. It's about the planet — and the oversized slice of it we've taken for ourselves.


/see: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.p...toryId=95698409

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A while ago I came accross this weird nutty blog/site by someone who obviously does not like Friedman


Doesnt like the credit bubble either - that part of the site is more interesting !






Friedman is a top pundit. He is also directly responsible for the destruction of the entire US industrial base. He is the front man for destroying our nation. Just this week, an African man was sentenced to prison for committing international crimes when he supported illegal war efforts by his own rulers. We punished Saddam's press staff. We punished Hitler's press staff, too.


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  • 4 weeks later...

I saw Thomas Friedman speak in Hong Kong today

(here's how the talk was promoted):

"In “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America”, Thomas Friedman paints a frightening picture of where the world is headed. The title refers to climate change, expansion of the world’s middle class and population growth and the book provides a fresh outlook to the crises of destabilizing climate change and energy security.


What are the clean-technology breakthroughs that the world requires? Why should the U.S. lead this “Green Revolution”? What U.S. national strategy is required to prevent the planet from overheating?

== ==


TF was persuasive and passionate.


He is hopeful that President elect Obama will tackle the climate change / peak oil issue, and is a big fan of the proposed new Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, whom he knows reasonably well.


Friedman believes the US (and other countries) need to introduce a carbon tax, and if it was done it would give the right "price signal" to the market, and unlease enormous innovation in America.


After the talk, I asked him about what would happen if Obama's leadership failed, and would a Dollar crash lead to a "second signal"- from a rising US dollar oil price. He agreed that the American suburban living arrangement was a big problem, and 8 years of poor leadership (by Bush) had completely failed to address the urgent need to change America's energy use habits.


"We have enough time, provided we start immediately", he said (reading from his book) at the end of his prepared speech.

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FRIEDMAN A BILLIONAIRE? I checked it out, and found...


November 15th, 2008 9:00 am

Thomas Friedman's World is Flat Broke


By Peter Newcomb / Vanity Fair


It would be easy to dismiss today’s rant (however spot-on it might be) by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as yet another ideological tirade against the U.S. automobile industry. But based on the bad news coming out of shopping-mall owner General Growth Properties, it is no wonder Friedman is feeling crankier than usual. That’s because the author’s wife, Ann (née Bucksbaum), is an heir to the General Growth fortune. In the past year, the couple—who live in an 11,400-square-foot mansion in Bethesda, Maryland—have watched helplessly as General Growth stock has fallen 99 percent, from a high of $51 to a recent 35 cents a share. The assorted Bucksbaum family trusts, once worth a combined $3.6 billion, are now worth less than $25 million.


But don’t expect Friedman to go from Beirut to Jerusalem begging for money. The distinguished columnist (and former New Establishment member) is still said to get at least $50,000 per speaking engagement on top of the millions he makes writing best-sellers.


/see: http://media.michaelmoore.com/words/latest...ex.php?id=12622

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Taking on the extreme (criminal?) idiocy of the "drill, baby, drill" crowd.

Based on his comments, McCain should be binned, and Obama may deserve a chance,

though he doesnt "get it" yet on Oil addiction


As I read about him "taking the rails to Washington" for his inaugural speech, I think

now that he does get it- totally.


Here's more on that "Drill, Baby, Drill" phenomenom:


Friedman's Op Ed piece:



Candidate Obama "got it":

Drill baby, drill!" The Republicans' St. Paul battle cry, an instant self-parody moment for a zany campaign season, actually popped up at an Obama event on Monday. Standing before a small crowd at a Michigan community college, Sen. Barack Obama mocked the oil-crazed Republican delegates.


"'Drill baby, drill' -- what kind of slogan is that?" he asked, serving up gentle sarcasm to the supportive crowd. "I can see if you're, like, cheerleaders for ExxonMobile, but that's not a vision for the American future," he continued, touting his plan to "find new areas of production" and jumpstart a domestic "green collar" jobs program.


Then Obama shared the current book on his nightstand: "Hot, Flat, and Crowded," by Times columnist Tom Friedman. Displaying a soft spot for the cute jargon that has made Friedman's tomes such huge international hits -- 27 languages, two million copies! -- Obama said he shared a committment to improving America's "energy technology." "The country that figures out this energy thing first, they are gong to be country that leads in the 21st century. That's the bottom line," said Obama. He continued to channel Friedman: "He calls it E.T., energy technology," Obama explained, stressing that his administration would prioritize alternative energy.


/see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ari-melber/o...r_b_124890.html

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  • 2 weeks later...


Thomas Friedman so passionately wants America to do better- Can it even catch up?



Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. The ugly, low-ceilinged arrival hall was cramped, and using a luggage cart cost $3. (Couldn’t we at least supply foreign visitors with a free luggage cart, like other major airports in the world?) As I looked around at this dingy room, it reminded of somewhere I had been before. Then I remembered: It was the luggage hall in the old Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport. It closed in 1998.


The next day I went to Penn Station, where the escalators down to the tracks are so narrow that they seem to have been designed before suitcases were invented. The disgusting track-side platforms apparently have not been cleaned since World War II. I took the Acela, America’s sorry excuse for a bullet train, from New York to Washington. Along the way, I tried to use my cellphone to conduct an interview and my conversation was interrupted by three dropped calls within one 15-minute span.


All I could think to myself was: If we’re so smart, why are other people living so much better than us? What has become of our infrastructure, which is so crucial to productivity? Back home, I was greeted by the news that General Motors was being bailed out — that’s the G.M. that Fortune magazine just noted “lost more than $72 billion in the past four years, and yet you can count on one hand the number of executives who have been reassigned or lost their job.”


My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.


To top it off, we’ve fallen into a trend of diverting and rewarding the best of our collective I.Q. to people doing financial engineering rather than real engineering. These rocket scientists and engineers were designing complex financial instruments to make money out of money — rather than designing cars, phones, computers, teaching tools, Internet programs and medical equipment that could improve the lives and productivity of millions.


For all these reasons, our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. In fact, we as a country have become General Motors — as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.


That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover.


/more: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/24/opinion/...edman.html?_r=1

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  • 5 weeks later...



Called by the author, "the second installment of the Globalisation story" after the World is Flat


David Smick talking U.S. financial systems, global trade, risk, entrepreneurship, from his very good book The World is Curved:


Video: http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2009/01/..._david_smi.html



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  • 3 months later...
Unfortunately it didn't work out for everyone - my friend bought something off plan in Bulgaria and, even though the market there was apparently still going up, the developer ran out of funding and disappeared. She can't contact anyone to find out what she owns, if anything.


That's sad.

I nearly made the mistake 3-4 years ago of buying offplan in Bulgaria. In the end, I came to my senses, thank gawd.


I'm with you on moving money abroad. Some people are positioning for the housing market to explode again but it's always going to be related in value to UK wages. As we continue to get poorer relative to BRIC etc an investment there is likely to be a better long term bet than stretching to afford an extra bedroom in the UK. To put it another way, a few years ago I thought I'd be able to retire to India and get a higher standard of living from my pension. Now, with official retirement still 30+ years away I'm not so sure.


Good point.


GLOBAL LEVELING beats a Flat world

It's the "Global Leveling" that I spoke about so many years ago.


The "World is Flat" was an optimistic delusion (which Tom Friedman has partially corrected in "The World is Flat, Hot and Crowded", his latest book). In a Leveled world, living standards move up in the BRIC countries, and DOWN in the West. The thing to do, as i used to argue, was get money out of the West while it was still relatively overpriced. And get the money into the BRIC countries, putting it into assets that are cheap, and will benefit from economic growth and currency appreciation. Property might work, if it is property affordable by locals, rather than rich foreigners playing the global property bubble.


Friedman's optimistic scenario has now gone very flat, and my own notion of global leveling goes on making sense. Those who have good assets in BRIC countries producing rising amounts of cash flow, denominated in rising BRIC currencies, are going to be the long term winners in this game.


The big losers are the holders of first world property (especiallly luxury properties), which is losing value in local currency terms, and even more monet when measured in "real" terms, like in ounces of gold.


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