Book review: Climate change. What it means for us, our children, and our grandchildren

By Andreas Sandre von Warburg

Climate Change

Do we all know what climate change is? Most of us are familiar with the terms climate change and global warming, but not too many of us understand the science behind them. “Climate Change, What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren” helps us to grasp the technical and scientific aspects of global climate change in a clear way and in plain language. It gives us a picture of what we know and what could come ahead.

“The science of climate change can be thought of as a movie that has been made by hundreds of directors and that takes viewers from billions of years ago to the present,” authors Joseph F. C. DiMento and Pamela M. Doughman write in the book. “The goal of research in climate science is to refine these images and fill in the missing frames. As the movie chronicles actions that have brought us to the current era of global climate change, the challenge is to decipher the trajectory of the story in time to avoid a disastrous ending.”

The book, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Press, argues that if people don’t quite understand the seriousness of climate change, it is partly because politicians and the media have misrepresented the scientific community’s strong consensus on it–politicians by selectively parsing the words of mainstream scientists, and the media by presenting “balanced” accounts that give the views of a small number of contrarians equal weight with empirically supported scientific findings.

“A fundamental impediment to coverage of today’s top environmental issues is the nature of news,” authors say in the book. “News is almost always something that happens that makes the world different today. A war starts. A tsunami strikes. In contrast, most of the big environmental themes of this century concern phenomena that are complicated, diffuse, and poorly understood, with harms spread over time and space.”

Climate Change explains how we’re all going to be affected by global warming and climate change and the repercussions on our social, economic and political structure as a society.

“Anticipating the outcome of the story is difficult,” authors say recalling their movie metaphor. “Prediction of the future is constrained by the limitations of scientific knowledge, the complexity of the climate system, uncertain population growth, an interconnected global economy, advances in technology, and changes in politics and policies.”

However, the predictions we have are not at all positive. The book makes clear how climate change and global warming have been playing a key role in our history and are now playing a even bigger role for our future.

“Climate change is the poster child of twenty-first century environmental issues,” they argue. “Many experts say that it will be a defining ecological and socioeconomic problem in a generation or two and actions must be taken now to avert a huge increase in emissions linked to warming as economies in developing countries expand.”

“The problem of the international community is how to use uncertain predictions to decide what actions, if any, we should take to protect our world,” authors say. “Because global climate change is an environmental problem that has technological, social, and economic dimensions, international organizations, nations, businesses, and citizens must determine how they can limit their own contributions to harmful consequences.”

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2 Responses to “Book review: Climate change. What it means for us, our children, and our grandchildren”

  1. 1 Book Reviews Trackback on March 18, 2008 at 7:13 pm
  2. 2 Book Reviews Trackback on March 18, 2008 at 7:13 pm

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The Gstaad Project is an open, online-based community aimed at bridging the gap between "we the people" of the world and the world's international organizations and intergovernmental entities. Founded in January 2007, the Gstaad Project is an apolitical and non-religious organization. It promotes social, economic, and cultural diversity with an emphasis on human rights, gender equality and development.

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