Freshman Reading Program



12 Responses

  1. One aspect of the book that i greatly admired was the fact that it explained and discussed in great detail every angle of the world’s growing energy crisis and humanities acceleration of global warming. In my opinion, the best and most thought-provoking part of the book, even though the book was altogether excellent and stimulating, was the way it detailed how America could improve its energy grid. Thomas Friedman makes America, and the world’s, transformation to a clean-energy system sound appealing and plausible.
    The book was even more interesting to me as i have lived and visited many middle eastern countries – including three “petrodictatorships”. The current “petrodictatorship” i live in is covered in Toyota Land Cruisers (most nationals owning more than two) and there is no initiatives to buy greener cars or green the nation.
    From living in the middle east for soo long, there’s no way that i can see this book optimistically as no matter how green some countries get, more “petrodictatorships” will buy more Land Cruisers.

  2. Debating with a friend of mine, he conceded to the economic benefits of limiting our fossil fuel intake but still holds strong to the in-existence of global warming. He felt that Hot, Flat, and Crowded was very biased and did not fully encompass the counter arguments. I did a little research and it is astounding how this book and on-line websites can say the exact opposite things.

    Here were some of there arguments.

    1. Most scientists do not believe human activities threaten to disrupt the Earth’s climate.
    2.Our most reliable sources of temperature data show no global warming trend.
    3. Global climate computer models are too crude to predict future climate changes.
    4. The IPCC did not prove that human activities are causing global warming.
    5. A modest amount of global warming, should it occur, would be beneficial to the natural world and to human activities.
    6. Efforts to quickly reduce human greenhouse gas emissions would be costly and would not stop Earth’s climate from changing.
    7. Efforts by stat governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are even more expensive and threaten to bust state budgets.
    8. The best strategy to pursue is “no regrets.”

    I still believe in global warming but these opposite stand points make it hard to not wonder whether I have all the facts. Why are they so different? Friedman says it’s because scientists have been conditioned to underestimate everything.

    My friend argues that many people believe in global warming because of the constant advocates seen on tv. Thinking about it, Nickelodeon has taken up the “Green pledge” and stores are advertising for products that “Go Green”. It’s not a bad thing if global warming is true, but if it isn’t, it’s just making more people susceptible to the idea.

  3. While I respect other’s opinions that Friedman’s work is sopping with too many facts, and at some points feels too overwhelming and scary, I believe these people are completely missing the point of this book’s existence. First of all, even though Friedman seemed to spill every single one of his thoughts into his work, and all of the points are well organized and presented for the reader to learn and retain, this book is not meant to be a text-book. As opposed to memorizing or taking notes on every tidbit you run across; absorb it and let it tie into the main themes of the book. He wrote this book as a whole so somebody with even elementary processing skills could keep up with the theme and the idea, while at the same time, he goes off on relevant tangents that are crucial and germane to what he wants the reader to understand.
    When people feel scared and intimidated by the nature of the subject of the book… they should be! I feel that half of the battle that we are facing is being knowledgeable of what is happening, and will happen. Merely reading the book, and accepting what Friedman is saying, and learning about the state of the planet through the eyes of a reliable source is doing quite a lot. If more people in this country, and in the free world, were equipped with the knowledge that the readers of this book possess, things would most likely naturally change. The voice and desire for action, from the people, would be translated into government action (that’s how a republic theoretically works). That’s what this book is more aimed at too, government action. So, one could say that this book is best used for filling in the ignorance gaps which plague the world, as opposed to being the personal bible of the brave new green world.

    • I agree. It is evident that the writing style makes it easier to read because it isn’t a text book, and personally I enjoy the side stories and metaphors that tend to make “theories” more…. personable.

      I have to say that the information is redundant though. Sometimes I think to myself that this book is really long because he repeat the same information over again. I guess it might be because he wants things to really stick, but at some points it gets to be too much.

      Your thoughts?

  4. When I first started the book, I found it to be quite interesting with a message that was critical to our generation. However, after reading that same message chapter after chapter, my interest began to dwindle.
    The immense amount of information is confusing and overwhelming, but to the author’s credit, the topic is indeed excrutiatingly important and an issue that needs to be undertaken imediately. Although, perhaps in essence of time, it seemed as though all his facts, stories, and statistics were simply thrown together to create the novel.
    All criticism aside, there was one quote that particularly struck me: “Make arks, not floods.” I thought it was an interesting way to express the idea that we need to come up with innovative ways to work with the earth as opposed to against it; it definitely caught my attention.

    • I thought that quote was interesting too. I just wanted to add… not that I am an avid reader of the bible… but wasn’t the flood sent to wash away the sins of man.

      So we created the flood back then and we are creating the flood now. Just felt like pointing that out ^.^

  5. Common reactions I have noticed is informative and depressing. This novel argues on behalf of environmentalists and “Code Green” advocates everywhere, and takes notice of the counterarguments by brushing them aside with facts that make them obsolete. All the arguments are so convincing that I have begun to convert a long time anti-conversationalist friend by simply reciting them during our debates. Despite bringing attention to all the problems with our world, I feel helpless. As a teenager, what can I do to bring electricity to poverty stricken areas in Africa, for the government to mandate that all products need to be recyclable and create factories that recycle them, to decrease our dependence on fossil fuel, create alternative energy, educate people in Iran, or even save the species that are dying out every twenty minutes. Though I have 100 pages left, there really seems to be no way I can have an impact on the world. Friedman said it himself, the simple benefit of electricity saving homes is being washed away by the over-abundant usage of energy in other countries. I do not understand how this opportunity to rise up in the face of adversity should be exciting when the cost of failure is so great. After beginning this book, I’ve done small things to reduce the human impact: recycling papers instead of burning them in my fireplace and e-mailing my companies boss advocating for the recycling of paper and plastic in the work place but none of that seems to be enough. Everyone should have an understanding the worst case scenario so that we can all join forces to overcome this, but then I wonder “is it possible? Is it even enough?”

    Though that was the overarching theme of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded”, what I am most intrigued by is the large effect our usage of fossil fuel is having on freedom, democracy, and terrorism. This hunger for fuel is driving many things that are simply against the American virtue that it’s almost unbelievable that we have been participating in this system for so long. Some of this seems to be inherent since they are making bumper stickers about the negative impact of “hummers” and yet it never fully hit me, as I am sure happened to others. What can be done? This may be one of the largest selling point for people who do not believe in global warming. It is imperative that people understand that our need for fossil fuel is feeding a downturn for woman’s rights and and increase in an education system that teaches the young minds to hate different, to fear different, and to end things that are different: a trait inherent to our American culture.

    I just hope that an opportunity for us to take action become evident soon.

    • I’m sorry. Re-reading it now, I realize that there is very VERY bad grammar everywhere. So pardon my…. writing.

      Anywho, anti-conversationalist=anti-conservationalist

  6. Essentially ever sentence in this book contains a fact. It is extremely hard to retain all that a single page holds, let alone a chapter. However some of the chapters have stayed with me through out the book. Oil and Islam: In which Friendman not only illustrates Islams connection with oil, but the power and influence that money plays in spreading the religion itself. The Saudi government, empowered by execssive wealth and the “salaf” form of Islam has formed a country with little to no religious freedom. However Friendman does explain the Al-Saud (current ruling families) hope to control extremists. A particular quote stuck with me from the chapter “Paranoia and fanaticism naturally occupy mind that are closed and fearful.” This quote is so important for world issues now and in the future. So many people look at the middle east with this attitude, and having grown up in Cairo I know that there is nothing to be afraid of.
    This chapter also discusses how geographical locations have altered the way people practice Islam. And it made me curious whether that is the case for all religion. Do southern Baptists practice Christianity different than Baptists in the north or is oil, trade routes, and money really what cause Islam to take different forms as suggested by Friedman.

    The second chapter I am choosing to comment on is titled ‘A million Noahs, a Million Arks.’ I found his parallel between Indonesian women working abroad as maids, and Indonesians who sell tropical trees for export abroad extremely interesting. I feel like with this book Friendman’s strengths are his use of parallels, the environment to governments, and religion to oil. These specific relationships helped me to understand the book and its message about the world becoming ‘hot, flat, and crowded.”

  7. I feel that the novel is very informational and educational, but so much so that I found myself righting massive amounts of notes in the margins to keep up with what I was learning. I needed reminders because Friedman goes from one topic to the next very quickly. I would rather enjoy the novel without having to constantly go back and say “oh wait, what was he just talking about before? How does it pertain to what I’m reading now?”. I want all the information in my mind so that I don’t have to take the time to go back and make sure I understand what he’s getting at based upon the notes I have taken. Yet, as my reading has carried on, I have begun to retain more of the facts and anecdotes to aid in my further reading. I am finally beginning to actually enjoy the novel and understand it. I have found that one just needs to find the right way to read it.

  8. 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.

  9. So far, although I have not finished this novel, I have found it depressing. I understand fully that this is the reality of the world that we all inhabit however I feel as though Freidman might have organized his book in a more appealing way so as to allow a small respite for the reader. There is an overwhelming amount of factual evidence, anecdotal writing and referencing that make it a very thick and full read. I hope that as I continue to progress I will be more pleased but as of right now, I am not feeling as motivated to continue as I was hoping to.

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