Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review – The Climate Crisis by David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf (2010)

The IPCC AR4 report too technical for you? Want to learn about the climate change? Then this is a good book for you. “The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change” by climatologists David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf was published this year and does a decent job of explaining the status of climate science to non-scientists.

That doesn’t mean the book isn’t technical. It is chock full of color graphics, charts, tables, and photographs documenting every aspect of climate science. But the authors work hard to present the information in language that educated non-scientists and scientists and professionals in other fields can more readily understand. Overall they accomplish this goal, though I do think that parts of the book are still technical enough to confuse your “average Joe.” Conversely, I don’t think they explain some of the charts well enough – there is a tendency to have a narrative and reference a chart or graph, but then not explain the graph in detail. This is intentional as the book is designed to communicate the information on a level that non-climatologists can understand, but I did find myself wanting to drill into the figures more than was enabled.

Still, these are minor quibbles and I find the book to be a very useful addition to the reading list of anyone interested in the topic of global warming or climate change. The authors are both practicing climatologists and professors of climate science. Rahmstorf was one of the lead authors in the most recent IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (called AR4). Both contribute to the blog on the topic.

The book itself focuses on the state of the science and looks at what evidence of climate change we have already seen, what is happening with snow and ice in various parts of the world, how the oceans are changing, and how climate is measured. They also have chapters on what we might see in the future with respect to climate change, impacts of those changes, and how we can avoid the worst of it. They briefly touch on climate policy in the last chapter, but they focus on the need for action, the global nature of the cooperation required, and the differences between developed and developing nations, rather than discussing any specific policy solution.

I definitely recommend the book. Readers will find it both informative and enlightening.

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