Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Climate Change" Book Review

Climate Change begins with the following three basic assumptions: “that the public would like to understand climate change better, that understanding climate change is not easy, and that [the difficulty understanding climate change] does not have to be that way” (2).  In the stated effort to make climate change easier for the general public to understand, the editors have written in an accessible manner to a fairly wide range of readers.  They skillfully adapt complex scientific concepts into language that should be understandable by general readers.  The information presented in the book is well-documented, and the authors and editors maintain an unbiased feeling in their presentation.  The series editors intend the book as an introduction, and it would be useful in an interdisciplinary course or section on climate change.  General readers desiring to better understand the science of climate change will also appreciate this book.  The book includes a helpful glossary of climate change terms and a thorough index.
In chapter one, DiMento and Doughman introduce the book.  They are joined by John Abatzoglou and Stefano Nespor in chapter two, which is “A Primer on Global Climate Change and Its Likely Impacts.”  Using non-technical terminology, the authors explain how climate change works and what could happen if the climate changes.  In chapter three, the same four authors write about the effects of climate change, with a section focusing on California as an example.  In chapter four, Naomi Oreskes addresses the questions about scientific consensus and how the scientific community can be certain of their conclusion regarding climate change.  She writes “Scientists predicted a long time ago that increasing greenhouse gas emissions could change the climate, and now there is overwhelming evidence that it is changing the climate and that these changes are in addition to natural variability” (73).  When doubt still exists in a significant percentage of people, Oreskes’ chapter is an important contribution to understanding climate change.
DiMento and Doughman write of how the world is reacting to the science of climate change in chapter five.  They provide an insightful analysis of the Kyoto Accord and the impact it is having on the largest greenhouse gas producers, and they include an in-depth section on the federal, state and local level impact in the United States.  In chapter six, Andrew Revkin writes about climate change as news.  His account explains why mass media misrepresents or under-represents climate change.  In chapter seven, Richard Matthew explores the relationship between climate change and security issues.  DiMento and Doughman conclude the book with a summary exploring “what [climate change] means to us, our children, and our grandchildren” (181).  Their answer, “It depends” (195), is based on a number of factors including the actions that governments, corporations, and individuals take today. 

DiMento, Joseph F. C., and Pamela Doughman (editors). Climate Change, What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2007. 217 pp. US $60.00/19.95. cloth/paper. ISBN 978-0-262-54193-0. Alkaline paper. 

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