2013 Reads and is Depressed

TooMuchInformation[17]When I talk to people about Hot, Flat and Crowded, I’m hearing two main things:
1) It is too much information! What am I supposed to do with all this information?
2) It is all so depressing!

Let me illustrate with some recent comments on the blog.

At first I thought this was a good thing, but then the sheer amount of facts made the book a bore to read. Right now, though I also haven’t finished the book, I am waiting to read on something that the reader can do, aside from what the government can do. I am glad to know that there are a lot of things that can help fix all the energy problems in the world, and especially in the U.S., but I am not the government and many of Friedman’s solutions do not apply to an average reader like me.

I agree that it is a lot of information. At first I thought this was a good thing, but then the sheer amount of facts made the book a bore to read. Right now, though I also haven’t finished the book, I am waiting to read on something that the reader can do, aside from what the government can do. I am glad to know that there are a lot of things that can help fix all the energy problems in the world, and especially in the U.S., but I am not the government and many of Friedman’s solutions do not apply to an average reader like me.

How are YOU feeling about the book?  Have you finished?  Did you find a light at the end of the tunnel?  Or are you, like several people I know, stuck on page 70 and hoping it has a happy ending?

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8 Responses

  1. I’m not the type to blog, but this book moved me so that I felt the need to share my thoughts about it. I have to say that this novel conveys a great message of global awareness, but at times it can seem repetitive. At first I was excited about reading this novel. After I bought it I simply couldn’t wait to open it and read what had to be said. I was like an ant at a picnic, I was all over this book. I read with the hopes that maybe it would offer the big solution to the rising problem of global warming. Instead it presented fact after fact after fact over and over again rapidly loosing my attention from the real point of the novel. At times I became so overwhelmed in the number of facts presented that I felt as though I was reading straight from an encyclopedia. Though as I read the blogging of my fellow peers I began to see that I was not the only one who felt this way. At the same time I began to wonder. What if this was his intention, to repeat his initial point with lots of factual knowledge so that the fact of global warming would be known of and no longer simply heard of. In math to learn our times tables we would repeat the process over and over until it was so embedded in our minds that it would never be forgotten.
    It is said that no one man can change the world, but if this one man was to somehow become many then his chances would become substantially greater and change would spread like a wildfire. I believe that in writing this novel Mr. Friedman, one man has set out to do just that. He has instead of straining one mind to create a solution joined many to collaborate on a number of solutions. “Two heads is better than one,” so why not try for thousands instead. All who dare to even crack the first page of his book are enlisting in the force to make this world a better greener place. After reading what was being done to our planet on a daily basis by us who inhabit I wanted to do something, anything to help the cause. From turning off the water when I brush my teeth to inventing a new and efficient bio fuel that is safe for the environment. It could be that in his repetitive message of what global warming actually is the author Mr. Friedman has accomplished the very thing he set out to do when first writing this novel. Informing a vast number of people of a very important issue at hand and its severity.

  2. I disagree with those who are complaining that we are merely private citizens — we are not the government — tell us some stuff WE as private citizens can do to stop climate change and herald the green revolution. The thing is, we, as mere individuals, uncoordinated and unconnected with there individuals — CAN’T DO MUCH. That’s just the truth. Sure, we can engage in feel-good measures such as turning off the lights, taking shorter showers, but these actions are for the most part feel good measures. ONLY when we organize and coordinate with each other to stop climate change will it happen.

    And furthermore, at least in the United States of America, We, the People, ARE the government — or rather, we choose who is the government. We are in theory a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, and although this maxim isn’t always exactly true due to the influence of special interests and arcane procedures, ultimately, we vote for our representatives. It’s our job to kick out those representatives who are the lackeys of private groups whose short-term interests are at odds with those of the American People (and ultimately, the people of the world as a whole too). That isn’t easy. That’s hard. Although scientific breakthroughs in renewable energy technology would be excellent and would further aid our quest to execute green revolution, the main problem is political — we are never going to have a “smart grid” unless the government changes regulations that favor the inefficient and unsustainable status quo and allows green technology to flourish in a marketplace and regulatory environment that isn’t rigged against them (indeed, it would be great for us of they were rigged FOR environmental technologies). Our duties as citizens is to ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE to push for political change that will enable changes in laws and regulations which in turn will allow green technology and policies to flourish and truly herald the dawn of a new era in the history of the human race and of the world. THAT is what we as private citizens must do — we have a political challenge ahead of us. Individual actions are good, but it is ultimately a pen (or in today’s world, more likely a keyboard) in the hands of a bureaucrat that will bring on the green revolution — our main job is to get that pen (or keyboard) to move and do that.

  3. Although I agree that the book often seems overwhelming and can become a bit redundant and boring at times, I think that the problem that most people are having with the text is that it appears to be aimed at the government, and the actions that high-level political players can take to remedy this problem. The solutions that Friedman discusses and introduces do not seem as though they are meant for the common member of the general public. While this may make the direction and the overall message of the book appear depressing, leaving the common man helpless, Friedman wrote this book for the public because although it may be the role of politicians to execute the “Code Green” agenda, it is only by public awareness and determination that they will be driven to step out on a limb in opposition of big money and corporate oil interests. “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” is so relevant and so necessary; of course the problems we face are depressing and overwhelming, and its obviously going to take more than a few hybrid cars to end the socio-political and ecological deterioration of our planet. It is going to take the collaboration of all sectors of society to make any lasting changes.

  4. This book quickly becomes depressing. But this only serves as a springboard for the rest of the book. The apocalyptic beginnings are the foundation that justify the seriousness of the need to change. Without the depressing barrage of facts about dying species or vicious weather there would be no motivation to have an “all in” investment into green technology. When reading about what we should do to change you would be sitting there thinking, why should we invest all of this time and money into green technology and innovations? Whether it is too depressing or not is up to you, but sometimes the truth hurts.
    I will agree with anyone who says there is too much information in this book. But I believe that when Mr. Friedman wrote this book he planned on it doubling as an educational resource. If someone wanted to learn about biodiversity loss they could pick it up and just read “The Age of Noah” and be done with it. I found myself really interested in the economics of replacing our Dirty Fuels System with a clean one. If I wanted I could look up Dirty Fuels System in the index and read up on that and it would not be overwhelming. But instead we were enticed to read the whole thing through and it overflowed our heads with information about the “Energy Climate Era” and a world that is becoming “Hot, Flat and Crowed”.

  5. There were times where I really felt Friedman’s book was quite depressing. As I was reading it, I felt as if nothing could really ameliorate the situation that plagues our planet today, but I also thought that everything that Friedman said made a lot of sense. I found his examples easy to follow, though I occassionally found myself confusing the names of people Friedman interviewed. I also liked how the author enumerates the problems that we face today, but he also offers some advice in order to prevent further damage to our world. Today, the “green revolution” is a term that people throw around in everyday conversations without truly understanding its underlying meaning, and I feel that Friedman defines the term and offers ways for his readers to change the world one step at a time.

  6. I finished the book and although it took me a long time and it was pretty tough to get through, I appreciate and agree with its general message. My main concern though with the book is that Friedman’s assumption that America is going to change and heed the call of ‘Code Green’ is far from the truth–I am just not seeing enough 1) knowledge on the danger of global warming 2) initiative to reinvigorate the economy through a systemic green revolution

  7. Page 70 seems to be the magic page, where everyone becomes stuck . Right now I still am not finished, but I only have 40 pages left. I too find the book stressful, almost distressing (and not in a motivatioal way).
    I understand his emphasis on the role of government to level the market, but disagree with his methods. One quote of his that I return is, “Our young people are much more idealisic than we deserve them to be, and our broader publicm though beaten down at times, is still eager to be enlisted . . . They want our country to matter again. . .to do nation building in America” (9). This is a redeeming undertone of the book, and an attitude that I feel not only at GW but from college students across the nation, that we feel an urgency to act for our nation. We can see this from the 2008 election statistics. The depressing undertone makes the book overwhelming, however, and I agree that the overload of information kills most of the motivation I have to read.
    Chapter thirteen “A Million Noahs, A Million Arks,” chapter fourteen”Outgreening Al-Qaeda” and chapter fifteen ‘Can Red China Become Green China” illustrate a variety of peoples and classes, from military personnel (like Dan Nolan) to people living a rural life in the rainforest facing the climate crises. I found these chapters a motivation for continuning. The “Noah” chapter also finally incorporates the average person’s role and seems to highlight the grassroots movements and the discussion popping up globally.
    Friedman is at his best when he reaches the attitude of a new generation, an attitude that we must reach more than the upper-middle class, that we must reach more than America, and that we must embrace a globalized world. Friedman is at his worst when he overloads us with repetitive facts that make the issue an-already doomed rather than an opportunity. At it’s core, as Friedman sometimes highlights, our impact on climate is an opportunity to become an America again about innovation, collaboration, and compromise, whcih Friedman often loses chastising with facts ad naseum.

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