Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America, published in 2008, is Thomas Friedman’s diagnosis of three major challenges facing the world and the United States in particular. It also includes prescriptions for how the U.S. can remedy these problems.
The three major challenges Friedman sees are summed up in the book’s title. First, he says the world is “flat," by which he means that the economy is increasingly globalized. The Internet and other technologies have allowed many jobs, especially those that pay well, to be performed by workers just about anywhere in the world. This is a problem for the United States because jobs can be outsourced to people who will do them as well as Americans can but for less money.
The second problem is that the world is “crowded.” By this, Friedman means that the world is overpopulated and that, importantly, the global population is increasingly becoming middle-class. As people achieve middle-class status, they demand more and more material goods. The production of these goods uses up ever more resources. "Crowding" is a particular problem for the United States because, Friedman asserts, the consumption of nonrenewable resources tends to enrich oil-rich countries of the Middle East and thereby threaten national security.
The final problem, and the one that Friedman pays the most attention to, is the problem of global warming—the idea that the world is becoming “hot.” This is, of course, an issue for the whole world. However, it is also, Friedman believes, the potential source of salvation for the Unites States.
Friedman posits that green energy will be the next major advancement in global economies. The need for renewable energy technology, and for technologies that will reduce the need for energy, will increase substantially. Therefore, he argues, whichever country dominates the development and production of green technology will become (or remain) the strongest country in the world, economically speaking. Friedman hopes that the United States will develop a national strategy that will allow it to dominate this vital sector of the future economy.
In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Thomas Friedman identifies major problems facing the world, the greatest of which is global warming. He then argues that the United States can solve its own problems, and help the entire planet, by becoming a world leader in green technology.