DEAD HEAT: The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect by Michael & Robert H. Boyle Oppenheimer

DEAD HEAT: The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect

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As of 1989, five and possibly six of the past nine years have been the hottest in the 130-year-old record of global temperature measurement, a phenomenon suggesting that the predicted greenhouse effect--caused by a 200-year buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other gases--is upon us. In any case, unless we stop emissions now--well, Environmental Defense Fund official Oppenheimer and Boyle (coauthor, Acid Rain, 1983) begin with a several-page scenario of the disasters ahead. The authors warn of the irreversibility and lag time that make a ""wait-and-see"" position particularly dangerous; review greenhouse, effect studies to date and chronicle the slow response, even among scientists, to the disturbing findings; and discuss the need to hasten a projected ""Fifth Wave"" of technological change beyond the current Fourth Wave, fossil-fuel, driven economy. Like Barry Commoner (Making Peace with the Planet, reviewed above), they advocate solar or alternate energies or no cars, help for Third World countries to develop with renewable energy, and a total industrial transformation based on global environmental protection. They too see hope in the current green movement and thawing of the Cold War. They acknowledge that ""the specter of environmental catastrophe looms at the very height of widespread enthusiasm for laissez-faire governance,"" but make some interesting suggestions for ""light-handed"" government action, including an ""environmental pork barrel."" All of this is conveyed in punchy prose replete with analogies, the better to light a match under the public easy chair.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1990
Publisher: Basic Books