Diary of a Freshman Reader

diary_open_520Today we continue our series of the winning essays submitted to Dean of Freshmen, Fred Siegel.  These freshman were selected from over 300 of their peers to attend a dinner with Dean Siegel and a very special guest.

Our featured essay of the day is by freshman, Courtney Joline.

July 15- Chapter 1:

I just started Hot, Flat, and Crowded. It seems substantial with great writing. I resolve to read one chapter per day.  Friedman’s concept of hot, flat, and crowded seems legitimate and it shocks me this is the first I am hearing about the Earth’s inability to sustain a growing middle class. Past administrations dealings with the environment disappoint me and further enhances my opinion of each president. It seems odd that we never covered these topics in AP US History.

July 16- Chapter 2:

Billions of people will be born in the next forty years? Seems hard to imagine mathematically. It is also a little sad that all of the progress we have made since the collapse of the Berlin Wall brought about new, pressing issues. One more reason to have disdain for David Hasselhoff. New concepts are being introduced, waiting to see where Friedman will take them.

July 17- Chapter 3:

In wanting the world to treasure American ideals we have ultimately created a monster; does that mean we are a modern day Victor Frankenstein? China has another major impact on the world (do they ever get tired of being the leader in everything?)

July 18- Chapter 4:

Absolutely loved this chapter. The law of petropolitics is right on target. Yet another reason to stop our addiction to oil; unfortunately I now get an eerie feeling whenever I fill up my tank. It astounds me that not only are we are financing our own destruction but a commodity could adversely affect so many lives.

July 20- Chapter 5:

Why are people so ignorant to the fact that we undergoing global weirding (love that term).  Are people willing to risk their futures for a cash windfall now? Well, I shouldn’t be too surprised (ahem Bernie Madoff). I am disgusted that such an issue can be silenced with money and that many are unwilling to face the truth. How amazing would life be if we all looked at the news once in a while instead of being duped by thirty second commercials debunking science…

July 21- Chapter 6:

100 million species and plants that could provide a cure and a source of someone’s livelihood destroyed by corporate greed? Seems like a Spielberg movie but it is happening daily.  Alternative energy should not be the only focus but also conservation and protecting the natural habitat. Governments should stop submitting to the Almighty Dollar and be leaders, doing whatever is best for the common good rather than filling their own pockets.

July 22- Chapter 7:

After all the progress our world has made, 1.6 billion people still don’t have access to eclectricity. This astounds and infuriates me because this ensures that they have no change to compete in a global market and that they will have the biggest burden in the inevitable droughts and floods that will wreak havoc. These innocent people don’t have the resources to pollute like other developed countries, yet they will be the ones hit hardest.

July 23- Chapter 8

While I am a full supporter of capitalism, it provides so many hindrances, namely in new technology. It is up to us to convince the investors (who seemingly hold the power behind clean energy-who would have thought?) that we are willing to adapt to new power and a new market.

July 24- Chapter 9

It’s honesty time: I devoured articles and books proclaiming that they had all of the answers to saving the environment. Looking back they were all superfluous; shutting off the lights when you leave a room, recycling, living organically, and the like. I’ve now learned that this will not solve the crisis: we need a scientific breakthrough and a whole new system. Sacow and Pacala provide an excellent guideline that seems easier said than done. If only we could get out of our own way, put aside petty politics, and work for a positive cause for a change. Is that so difficult?

July 25- Chapter 10:

I have understood Friedman’s argument throughout the entire book, but this chapter confused me. The basic idea surrounding utilities is easy enough but the look at the future with a Smart Black Box seemed a little too out there for me.  I don’t comprehend how the utilities will make money by having consumers use less electricity. Hopefully my Intro to Economics Class will explain it.

July 26- Chapter 11:

Energy has not evolved since 1957; this is a fact that needs to be remedied immediately. Government and the people need to get over their fear of regulation and interference. I personally align myself with the idea of the price signal, because that is the most effective way to get consumer’s attention: through their wallets. Mandates and gasoline taxes would reinforce behavior that is more concerned with the environment and pushes for change. With high gas prices, we see more and more cars becoming fuel efficient with consumer demand.

July 27- Chapter 12:

It is so clear that regulation and innovation work; the United States can use California as as a springboard to shaping new policy. I don’t understand why people don’t educate themselves and invest in their own future. Another idea I still don’t understand: utilities.  So far I love this book, but it is a little apocalyptic and at times frightening. I know this is necessary but I have never been presented with this kind of information in this manner before. I guess that’s a real wake up call.

July 28: Chapter 13:

I agree with the mentality that our markets and government need to invest in this global change as well as experts to create new breakthroughs. Sadly, I don’t see a lot of individual action except voting for other people to make decisions. These ideas will bring about great change, but it somewhat undermines different, basic actions like turning off lights after exiting a room and unplugging electronics. If the wrong person read the book, I feel like they would be disenchanted with the green movement. I guess we will have to reconcile the idea that we need both good environmental habits and science to get the world through.

July 30- Chapter 14

People have the right to not believe in global warming (idiotic yes, but still a right) but even they have to concede that using a new energy system is vital to our success in the Middle East. I never thought that moving from an oil based system would discredit and prevent many terrorist attacks on soldiers in the region.  In hindsight it is extremely logical and only has benefits. People who claim to support our troops now have to support clean energy. Hopefully, this aids in lessening bipartisan bickering.

July 31- Chapter 15

Communism is an ideology that sounds good on paper but in reality cannot work due to human nature. I am not a fan of countries that rule in this way and would like to see these systems move to a more capitalist friendly system.  Yet it amazes me that China, the most powerful Communist country, has a government has come to the realization that they need to change before our own government has become unified in that belief. I am confident, due to the fact that China has become a communist with capitalistic tendencies (irony alert!), that they will add more freedoms to their people in order to compete with the United States and be the leader in clean energy. Is it wrong for a small part of me to wish that they fail to ensure our success?

August 2- Chapter 16:

I love democracy: everything it stands for and the enormous potential still awaiting it. Unfortunately its slow which irks my impulsive nature. Our country is so used to sticking close to party lines and giving in to lobbyist demands that we never truly make any landmark legislation. While I could write pages worth of rants, I will subside and agree with Friedman that our leaders need to wake up, walk away from the distractions, and just do what our tax dollars pay them to do: make laws and run the country.

August 6- Chapter 17:

I can’t believe I finished this book. Not to be cliche, but it changed my life. I once was apathetic but Friedman really opened my eyes. There is so much work to be done, but I am confident that we, the future leaders of America, will enact positive change (I think I’m starting to sound like President Obama). I look forward to discussing the content with other GW students (and hopefully will finally understand the utilities chapter). It was an overall excellent summer pick and gave me enough knowledge to debate my friends who still think Earth will “be just fine”.


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