Recycling isn’t the whole revolution

Meghan Bogardus

In a time when the term “green” is in the speech of every presidential candidate, on the covers of magazines and even in conversations in many homes, Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and author of “The World Is Flat,” gives a firmer definition of what exactly a green revolution would entail.

By using his own terminology in his latest book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America,” Friedman establishes a connection between a range of the world’s major problems and having a “green revolution,” or ways to solve them.

Friedman uses the terms hot, flat and crowded as simple words for global warming, the rise in middle classes and the rise in populations. His solution, or “Code Green”, is about finding a way to solve all of those issues by addressing the major causes of global warming.

Friedman does a wonderful job of scientifically breaking down the causes of climate change, while stripping away the political side he even throws a few witticisms in to keep the section from getting too stodgy.

My particular favorite involves an explanation of how emission of methane gas is a large cause of global warming that cannot be hampered because it deals predominantly with the intestinal issues of cows.

Though the book is quite witty, the somewhat massive sections of statistics and quotes from other sources sometimes make it read more like a textbook than a commentary on current affairs. However, the sections with Friedman’s own anecdotes, opinions and experiences usually flow better and are more interesting than the pages and pages of statistics.

Yet, the facts are important to keep the book from being completely biased and political. While it is obvious that Friedman leans a bit to the left side of politics, he has enough research and outside sources that his opinions often seem irrefutable.

Friedman also addresses skeptics of global warming directly by removing the political aspects that often hinder understanding the problem’s reality. In this section, Friedman also offers an anecdote about spending time with hunters and fishers in Montana and how they believe climate change is affecting the outdoors they care so much about.

In addition to providing anecdotes of experiences and research, Friedman also conveys some ideas that are rather innovative.

In one section, Friedman writes of what he calls “petro-dictatorships,” or countries that have wealth and power due to oil, like Saudi Arabia. What Friedman shows by using several graphs is that as the price of oil increases in one of these countries, the democracy seems to decrease.

Overall, Friedman’s book shows exactly how much the world needs to change, but he is anything but pessimistic. Though he explains that saving the world takes much more than adamant recycling, he does not discourage the desire to go green. Instead, he makes it clear that government is responsible to cause a true “green revolution.”

Contact all correspondent Meghan Bogardus at [email protected].