I’ll begin by confessing a sort of ongoing devotion to Thomas Friedman, whom I’ve cited several times in various blog posts. He’s the author of “The World is Flat” and “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.” Using metaphors and narratives, Friedman de-complicates the world in a way that dumb people like me can understand. He is, in short, the Ford Prefect to my Arthur Dent – and his explanations of the universe help this hitchhiker to understand how it all works.
Friedman’s newest book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” offers a new plan for America after (and during) the current financial crisis. The premise is fairly simple: America is losing to countries like India and China in terms of manufacturing, education, infrastructure, and economic stability. Our industrial revolution is about 100 years older than theirs, and so their network of factories, facilities, and faculties is newer, more modern, more efficient, and ultimately more effective. If we keep playing the same game, we’ll lose. So we need a new game – a new industry with minimum competition and maximum need. That industry? Renewable energy. The horribly beautiful truth about our present world is that America, China, and India are all built upon a foundation of fossil fuels: horrible because it hurts our environment, beautiful because America is infinitely more able to flip the “green” switch than India and China.
Friedman’s plan is simple and brilliant: America needs to embrace the green revolution and work aggressively to stop making cars and start making green technologies that will power the world for the next century. This is our economic salvation; this is our way of staying relevant for the next 100 years. The demand is through the roof, the supply is non-existant on a global scale, and the competition is low.
We can do this!
Check out this interview with Friedman on Meet the Press a few weeks ago, then buy the book!