Thursday, January 12, 2017

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know by Joseph Romm

A tremendously valuable book that everyone interested in climate change should read. And we all should be interested in climate change.

Written by a former assistant secretary of energy, with a PhD in physics and decades of science communication expertise, the book, subtitled "What Everyone Needs to Know," covers major facets of climate change in seven major sections. Each section is broken into the questions that most people ask.

For example, section 1 is on Climate Science Basics. It includes questions like: "What is the greenhouse effect and how does it warm the Earth?" and "Why are scientists so certain the climate system is warming?" These and other questions (like Where does most of the human-caused warming go?) become the focal point for detailed answers explaining the state-of-the-science.

This same format is used for each of the other sections encompassing: Extreme Weather and Climate Change; Projected Climate Impacts; Avoiding the Worst Impacts; Climate Politics and Policies; The Role of Clean Energy; and Climate Change and You.

The coverage of impacts and policy options in addition to the science makes this book highly useful. Is nuclear power part of the answer? How about "carbon capture and storage?" Bioenergy? Electric cars? Hydrogen cars? What contributions, impacts, and solutions are there in the agricultural and livestock sector? How about transportation?

The last section - Climate Change and You - helps bring the ramifications of climate change back home. What impacts, now and in the future, can your family expect? What can you do as individuals to reduce your carbon footprint? How might this affect your investment decisions?

And "Do we still have time to preserve a livable climate?"

The table of contents lists each of the questions (roughly 12 to 20+ per section) so that readers can go directly to the discussion of the questions most important to them. This makes the book an excellent future resource as well as a comprehensive survey of the science and the options for dealing with that science.

As might be expected, the book is dense with factual information. This is both a blessing (well documented facts abound) and a burden (it is not a quick read). My recommendation is that everyone who wants to know about climate change (or who professes to "know" in Facebook comments) reads this book thoroughly, then keep a copy on your desk for reference. The questions likely any question that may be asked by friends, family, or on online forums.

Read it, and keep it handy.