An authoritative yet accessible presentation of the scientific evidence that climate change is happening; a clear delineation of what global warming has done and could do to life on our planet; and an urgent call for action.
According to environmentalist and naturalist Flannery (The Eternal Frontier, 2001, etc.), human beings are the weather makers, and while there is still time to reduce the impact of global warming, failure of this generation to do so will lead to a climate-change-driven Dark Ages and the collapse of civilization. For the non-specialist, he deftly untangles the meanings of “greenhouse effect,” “global warming” and “climate change” as he explains their connections and illustrates the importance of the atmosphere to earth’s well-being. The present age, sometimes called the Anthropocene, or age of humanity, which began some 8,000 years ago, is, according to Flannery, showing signs of turning ugly. He documents the ecological changes that have already taken place in polar regions and on coral reefs, the species extinctions, altered rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and extreme weather events—all from temperature rises of only 0.63 of a degree, one-fifth to one-tenth of what is expected in this century. Turning to the political sphere, he examines the Montreal Protocol, which reduced emissions of CFCs, and the Kyoto Protocol, which attempts to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions but was not ratified by the United States or Australia. He looks at the role of government, scrutinizes the relationship between government and industry and charges that the fossil-fuel industry willfully misrepresents the dangers of climate change. Finally, Flannery discusses various power technologies—wind and solar, nuclear and hydrogen—that would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, and he conjectures about what their economic and social impact might be. His closing chapter spells out specific steps that individuals can take to substantially reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.
A powerful and persuasive book, sure to provoke strong reaction.