THE HOT TOPIC by Gabrielle Walker
Kirkus Star


What Can We Do About Global Warming
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An incisive look at global warming.

Walker (An Ocean of Air: Why the Wind Blows and Other Mysteries of the Atmosphere, 2007, etc.), and King, director of research at the University of Cambridge, begin with the science that demonstrates the reality of global warming and its origin in human activity. The climate since the last decade of the 20th century is the hottest since record keeping began. Archaeological and paleontological evidence indicates that the Earth is currently warmer than it has been for at least 1,000 years. The reason is clear: The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest in 650,000 years. Because of this, we can expect more intense tropical storms; drought in middle latitudes (the United States, much of Europe and Asia); killing heat waves; rising sea levels; spread of infectious diseases; crop failures; migrations and warfare caused by climate change. Although warming can be expected to continue of its own momentum for some time, note the authors, we may be able to keep it to about 3.5 F° above pre-industrial levels. Suggesting means to rein it in, they stick to currently feasible tactics: finding alternatives to fossil fuels, conserving energy with better insulation and more efficient appliances, adopting more efficient forms of transportation, halting deforestation. While some steps, such as wider use of nuclear power, face much resistance, even hardcore environmentalists may decide the tradeoffs are worth the risks. The book’s third section tackles what may be the most difficult task: conjuring the political will to do what is necessary. Resistance is high in developing nations such as China, and some developed nations—notably the United States and Russia—have been reluctant to face reality. Still, after the authors look closely at a dozen nations, they find reasons for optimism. Ordinary people can make a difference, they declare, if enough of us try.

Practical, detailed and authoritative—essential reading.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-15-603318-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2008


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