Hot, Flat, and Crowded: E.C.E. 101

Last night we had the pleasure of meeting with the members of the book club to which we belong. This is a group of lively, energetic, intelligent, articulate folks who manage to bring varied and wonderful perspectives to everything we read and discuss. This time, we read Thomas L. Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America, his thorough take on climate change, the emergence of the Energy-Climate Era (E.C.E), world petropolitics, and the active role the U.S. must play…NOW. 

First, let me warn you that I am a cynic. I have great wishes for but expect little of other people and am rarely disappointed. I am pleasantly surprised when others take seriously the same things that I do. Fortunately for me, Friedman and others are optimists who believe we are capable of rising to the occasion, creating a clean energy industry, gradually diminishing our use of dirty fuels, and continuing to grow our economy and the global economy all at the same time. His book is a very readable exposition of the issues and what we need to do to get past them.

My primary reaction to Friedman’s book was a major sense of urgency. I am not sure why I spend so much time thinking about and writing about health care reform and electronic medical records (EMRs) when we have so much more important challenges on our doorstep. 

If you do not believe that climate change (and our part in it) is an issue that we must address and take action about sooner rather than later but you are open to learning more, please read this book. If you already accept this premise, you might want to read the book to understand some of the complex issues that make it difficult for us as a country to take action on climate change…and to help determine what our personal next step needs to be. If you do not believe that climate change is happening and that we play a part in it and can do something to solve the problem and you know that your opinion is not going to change, that’s fine…but please just get out of our way while we try to take the difficult steps needed to save the planet, our society and our quality of life.

Friedman quoted from the speech of a twelve-year-old girl to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Severn Suzuki is probably the most articulate child advocate of anything I have ever heard. If you have 6:42 to invest, take a look at her speech on YouTube. I have strong emotional reactions to speeches…after I finished crying, I started to think about what I wanted to write and what I want to do. One of the decisions I made is that I will write about this subject regularly…you can expect reports a I become more informed and as we take steps to diminish our personal and business CO2 production.

When I got up this morning to write this article, I first checked my email, then I glanced through the N.Y. Times Today’s Headlines to which I subscribe. Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman decided to write about this same subject for today’s paper. His Op-Ed piece Cassandras of Climate expresses succinctly what Friedman’s book does in detail…the time for us to take major action is NOW.

Small, incremental, easy actions are not likely to be enough to keep our children and grandchildren from experiencing significant discomfort and disruption of their lives…but we must start somewhere. Those of us who accept the scientific opinions of virtually all the climate scientists in the world need to get off our duffs and do something…… NOW.  We must find ways to mobilize all the talents of all our citizens to accomplish the difficult tasks before us.

What are you doing about climate change? Many of you are so much farther along than the rest of us. Please share your experience, ideas and the information you have gleaned to help the rest of us move along.

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