The Hot Topic: What We Can Do about Global Warming

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-04-07
  • Publisher: Lightning Source Inc

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Last year, awareness about global warming reached a tipping point. Now one of the most dynamic writers and one of the most respected scientists in the field of climate change offer the first concise guide to both the problems and the solutions. Guiding us past a blizzard of information and misinformation, Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King explain the science of warming, the most cutting-edge technological solutions from small to large, and the national and international politics that will affect our efforts. While there have been many other books about the problem of global warming, none has addressed what we can and should do about it so clearly and persuasively, with no spin, no agenda, and no exaggeration. Neither Walker nor King is an activist or politician, and theirs is not a generic green call to arms. Instead they propose specific ideas to fix a very specific problem. Most important, they offer hope: This is a serious issue, perhaps the most serious that humanity has ever faced. But we can still do something about it. And theyll show us how.

Author Biography

David King is a professor of chemistry at Cambridge University and director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
The Problem
Warming Worldp. 3
Whodunnit?p. 19
Feeling the Heatp. 32
In the Pipelinep. 47
Climate Wild Cardsp. 64
Technological Solutions
What Should We Aim For?p. 81
More from Lessp. 97
Planes, Trains, and Automobilesp. 110
Power to Changep. 126
Political Solutions
It's the Economy, Stupidp. 147
The Road from Kyotop. 166
Rapidly Developing Nations (or, come on in, the agreement's lovely)p. 178
Industrialized Nations (or, whose fault is it anyway?)p. 188
How You Can Change the Worldp. 214
Acknowledgmentsp. 229
Climate Myths, Half-Truths, and Misconceptionsp. 231
Selected Glossaryp. 241
Notesp. 245
Indexp. 267
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


WARMING WORLDClimate change isnt new. Our planet is restless and its environment rarely stays still for long. There have been times in the distant past when carbon dioxide levels were much higher than they are today and Antarctica was a tropical paradise. There have been others when carbon dioxide levels were much lower and even the equator was encrusted with ice. But over the past ten thousand years, the time during which human civilization has existed, Earths climate has been unusually steady. We humans have become used to a world where the way things are is more or less the way they will be, at least when it comes to temperature. In other words, we have been lucky. Now our steady reliable climate is changing, and this time nature isnt to blame. But how do we know for certain that the world is warming, and how can we identify the culprit?The Heat Is OnWhen youre trying to determine whether the worlds temperature is rising, the biggest problem is picking out a signal from the background noise. Even in our relatively stable times, temperatures lurch up and down from one day to another, from season to season, from year to year and from place to place. To be sure that the underlying trend is changing, you need to take precise measurements from many different places around the world, and do so for an extremely long time. We do have a few long temperature records, thanks to certain individuals who decided to make the measurements just in case they ever proved useful. The worlds longest is the Central England Temperature Record, which is a tribute to the obsessive data-collecting habits of seventeenth-century British natural scientists. It covers a triangular region of England from London to Bristol to Lancashire and stretches back to 1659. This impressive record shows clear signs of warming, especially toward the end of the twentieth century. However, the record covers only a tiny part of the globe. Changes in England dont necessarily reflect changes in the United States, say, or Brazil. It also doesnt go back far enough to reveal just how unusual our recent warm temperatures really are. How do they compare, for instance, to the apparent warm period in medieval times when the Vikings settled a verdant, pleasant Greenland and there were vineyards in northern England? Or to the so-called Little Ice Age in the midcenturies of the last millennium, when the River Thames in London froze over completely so that frost fairs were held on its solid surface? To answer these questions, scientists have come up with ingenious ways to expand the records geographically and extend them backward in time. Some people have tried to interpret written archives that didnt quote actual temperatures,1 but the best way is to look at records written not by humans, but by nature. Every year, the average tree grows a ring of new wood around its trunk. In a good year the ring will be thicker, in a bad year, thinner.2 Researchers drill a small core into

Excerpted from The Hot Topic: What We Can Do about Global Warming by Gabrielle Walker, David King
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