Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Earth Flat, Hot

Thus, another bad book is out there with a portentious subject that doesn't define any solution, merely states the World Will End If Things Don't Change. But if you look far enough, the world ends pretty much with certainty: the Social Security fund going into deficit, asteroids, sun running out of fuel, the Milky Way crashing into Andromeda, the heat death of the universe. Thomas Friedman's The Earth is Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Like Robert Solow, I find myself critical of most books I read. But I think this makes sense, because most books, even most popular books, are either wrong, trite, inconsistent, or all three. Here's another book that book fills a much-needed gap.

Friedman notes that "The biggest downside of globalization is that in raising standards of living, globalization is making possible much higher levels of production and consumption by many more people". Either we don't get rich, and people die of Malthusian starvation, or we get rich and bake the planet into charcoal. I wonder why he smiles so much given this view (I suppose marrying a billionaire eases the slide into the abyss). His solutions are the typical 'we need cold fusion' type of wish list. If you project far enough into the future, life is doomed with current technology and institutions, which is why I think we should be looking things that have payoffs in our lifetimes, because otherwise you have no way to judge the viability of things, and so what is decided is based on other criteria, primarily political.

But with no footnotes or source notes, I get the sense these are extemporaneous remarks while drinking beer at the Bohemian Grove with other rich old guys who think they could solve the worlds problem if they only just "...". There's nothing like tackling a big problem like Globalization and Climate change, spouting facts as if they are beyond checking. Although the relevance of facts is often in dispute, the facts themselves are usually disputed.


Anonymous said...

"He said U.S. intelligence agencies accepted the consensual scientific view of global warming, including the conclusion that it is too late to avert significant disruption over the next two decades."

it'll go smth like this. "remember us? we used to haggle over the statistical significance of the evidence provided by those liberal scientists. we were wrong. sorry. no go get a gun and get on that wall"

Anonymous said...

There are always 10,000 people whining about a problem for every one that actually does something to fix it (e.g. invent an enzyme to help convert cellulosic biomass into something useful). So in my book, #1 are the productive, #2 are the people who worry about their own family and situations, and #3 are the whiners. And replacing your light bulbs with CFs and buying a Highlander hybrid does not move you out of the #3 category. ... And worst of all are the hypermiling jerks in their Prius (that is the actual plural) that slow everyone else down by accelerating so ungodly slowly.