The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth

Flannery, Tim
Atlantic Monthly Press 2005
ISBN 978-0-87113-935-1
343pp
Date finished: 2009-08-03

Published in 2005, the dispiriting year after Bush was re-elected, this book is mostly a gloomy description of the effects of increasing carbon dioxide, a depressing list of damages: more acidic oceans, coral bleaching, extinctions of species rendered unable to migrate by human-made obstacles, and declining water reserves. There are also the hard-to-assess but highly damaging risks, such as hurricanes becoming stronger, the Gulf Stream shutting down, methane releases being triggered causing massive further warming, or Earth's climate irreversibly shifting to a new stable state. No one has any idea how probable those latter changes are, but IMHO even if they're unlikely, it's worth some level of expenditure to avoid them. In a closing chapter, Flannery cheers up and notes that installing solar panels and taking some other steps can reduce your carbon emissions by over 50%, but that one chapter doesn't erase the parade of grim assessments that came before.

Flannery's writing is reminiscent of a newspaper or general-interest magazine article, using anecdotes well and concluding each storyline with a punchy note. I'll still prefer Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming, since I found the process of convergence on climate science to be both fascinating and convincing, but Flannery's book would still be a good overview for a non-specialist reader, despite being a few years out of date.

Tagged: climate change

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2009/08/Weather_Makers.html

%T The Weather Makers
%S How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth
%A Flannery, Tim
%K climate change
%D 2005
%G ISBN 978-0-87113-935-1
%P 343pp
%I Atlantic Monthly Press
%@ 2009-08-03

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