Flannery (An Explorer's Notebook: Essays on Life, History, and Climate, 2014, etc.) argues for renewed optimism in human capabilities to reverse the destabilizing effects of climate change.
For years, the author has been in the forefront of spreading the warning of climate change’s dire consequences to a broad audience. “This book describes in plain terms our climate predicament,” he writes, “but it also brings news of exciting tools in the making that could help us avoid climate disaster.” Flannery sees a decided change in governmental responsibility since the Copenhagen Accord of 2009, which suggested the possibility of international political cooperation, and the marginalization of the deniers, whom he finds “perverse. Even grotesque.” The author makes it abundantly clear where we stand—that we are far from achieving the 2 percent solution to global warming—but that there is also diverse, effective, and innovative activity toward cutting carbon dioxide emissions. This is occurring on the individual front—through digital interconnectedness and direct action such as disinvestment campaigns—and through the adoption of a long-view, “third way” of implementing projects that stimulate natural systems to draw the gas out of the air and oceans at a faster rate than we produce it. Flannery crisply outlines what is now known and conjectured about the human influence on climate change, exploring the long ragweed season, the nutritional degradation of crops, and the acidification of the oceans. There are roadblocks to alternative energy sources—as Ralph Nader noted, “the use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun”—but Flannery also finds that money will drive the wind and solar power sources as they rapidly become more efficient. He also puts fracking under great scrutiny, and he makes an intriguing case for the capture and storage of the byproducts of the damage already done.
A sharp summary of energy potentialities, where the good and the bad reside in human hands, hearts, and minds.