5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 18 reviews)
Very good0%

Reviews of 2n ed. | Empowering Insights into the Global Climate Crisis

July 2, 2024

THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS: What To Do About It, Second Edition

There is no scarcity of books about the climate crisis and no shortage of opinions of what to do about it.

This book, however, stands out from the crowd in several important areas:

• It is very deeply fact, not opinion, based and is extensively referenced,

• It is prescriptive without being polemic, or even, proscriptive,

• It accepts the inherent uncertainty of a complex, interactive problem such as climate change which involves not only physics and chemistry, but also economics, national and international policies, and – especially – human nature,

• It addresses climate change as a systemic issue in which both actions and their inevitable reactions are given significant weight,

• It recognized that climate change is not an “all or nothing” proposition; while some objectives are, realistically, unobtainable, there are many actions that will have meaningful beneficial impacts on climate change, and

• It courageously proposes specific actions and their likely consequences.

It is tempting to reduce the climate change issue to several bon mots such as:

• No plan survives first contact with the enemy. by Helmuth von Moltke in1871 [popularized by Mike Tyson in 1996 as Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.],

• It’s The economy, stupid. by James Carville in 1992, and

• The total behavior of large systems cannot be predicted. by John Gall [in Systemantics] in 1975.

all of which apply [to an amazing degree] to the efforts to address climate change, but this effort deserves the careful analysis and synthesis that Bill Fletcher and Craig Smith provide in their book.

In particular, Part 3, [action plans and consequences] represents a meaningful strategy for how to take action now and in the future to begin to mitigate the human impact on climate change.

The greatest challenge for implementing the actions recommended in this book, or in fact, any actions on climate change is latency – the delay between cause and effect. Put simply: will enough people put up with enough short-term pain to achieve a meaningful long-term gain.

The authors are optimistic that people, institutions, governments, and society as a whole are all sufficiently rational to accept these consequences to a degree sufficient to mitigate the human impact on climate change. I truly hope that they are right. I believe that I am a bit more pessimistic than they, but I know of no better guide to the actions we must take – and must motivate others to take – than this book.

This is a difficult book to read because it covers such an extensive topic in such balance and depth. I recommend a quick read of the whole book [avoiding the temptation to dive into every diversion], followed by a more careful read after you have internalized the context of the book.

Kevin Daly

Reviews of 2n ed. | Navigating the Global Climate Crisis with Fletcher and Smith

July 2, 2024

THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS: WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: Bill Fletcher and Craig Smith’s latest book is presented in straightforward text with crisp, clear graphics making a complicated subject more understandable by a layperson such as myself. I especially appreciated the Afterword presenting the backgrounds and personal perspectives of the authors.

I recommend this book to those trying to understand how we as individuals in an energy-hungry nation can form a more thoughtful, more informed position on energy production, usage, and conservation.

Ellie Freese, MA, Special education teacher and Chair of Committee on Special Education Rochester School District

Reviews of 2n ed. | Understanding and Addressing the Climate Crisis

July 2, 2024

Review of William D. Fletcher and Craig B. Smith, The Global Climate Crisis: What to do about It? Second edition, pp. 335. Amsterdam: Elsevier 2024.

Current information on climate change is often contradictory, politically charged, and/or written for scientists in jargon that is incomprehensible to the general public. The time is right for a new book that objectively presents the scientific facts in an easily understood manner, with clear illustrations that highlight the essential information needed to assess the situation and draw conclusions about what can and cannot be done to mitigate the worst effects of global warming. This is the book we all needed.

Published four years after the first edition entitled Reaching Net Zero: What it Takes to Solve the Global Climate Crisis, the second edition demonstrates the measurable changes in global warming that have occurred even over this short period, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. The picture is not good.

Here are only a few of the many important points raised in this book:

• “Global warming is due to increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities. Climate change is a consequence of global warming… Climate change is a broad term that encompasses the more frequent and severe weather events we are experiencing and other effects due to the earth’s higher atmospheric and ocean temperatures.” (p. xx) Certainly the past months’ weather is a textbook example. The authors conclude that global warming is irreversible. It takes hundreds of years for carbon dioxide discharged into the atmosphere to dissipate on its own.

• “To stop global warming, we need to get to ‘net zero,’ meaning essentially eliminate greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity. Anything less will slow down but not prevent the ever-increasing temperatures. Even after net zero is achieved, it will take centuries for atmospheric greenhouse gases to naturally dissipate and decline to preindustrial levels.” (p. xxi) Emissions that cannot be eliminated (such as jet fuel), will have to be offset by natural means or by technology.

• The effects of global warming are discussed in full (pp. 75-103): an increase in air pollution, rising sea levels bringing flooding, warmer oceans becoming more acidic, glaciers, icecaps and sea ice melting, permafrost melting and resultant subsidence, expansion of deserts and tropics, species extinction and migration, more frequent and severe extreme weather events, increasing droughts and wildfires, impacts on agriculture, deforestation, rising public health problems, financial crises, as well as national security implications.

• Difficulties in solving the global warming problem are numerous, including the need for seemingly unattainable global cooperation, the fact that fossil fuels are heavily subsidized, and that climate-change deniers have undertaken systematic campaigns of opposition and misinformation (pp. 183-196). Failure is a possibility (See also TEXTBOX 14.1 and 15.1).

• The authors conclude (pp. 217-219) that it is impossible to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050 and that the earth’s temperature could increase 2.0 to 4.0℃ (3.6 to 7.2℉) by the end of this century. They forecast no reduction in greenhouse gases by 2100 based on each country’s voluntary emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement of 2015. Currently 54 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere every year. But even if greenhouse gas emissions cease, because of latency (the delay between cause and effect), global warming will continue until the gases already in the atmosphere are slowly reduced by natural means.

• The authors propose an Action Plan of what they believe is realistically possible by 2050 (pp. 219-230).

Action 1: Improve energy-use efficiency (LED lighting, improved heat pumps and household appliances, building insulation, etc.). Save 13.7 GmtCO2eq.

Action 2: Convert 50% of fossil fuel electrical generation to solar and wind.

Save 7.5 GmtCO2eq.

Action 3: Switch to renewables for heat and power. Save 1.7 GmtCO2eq.

Action 4: Increase use of electric vehicles and replace petroleum-based transportation fuels. Save 8.0 GmtCO2eq.

Action 5: Stop deforestation and replant cleared areas.

Action 6: Improve land-use changes and agriculture by adopting “green” agricultural practices. Savings unknown because continued deforestation could add 5 GmtCO2eq.

Action 7: Should there be a carbon fee?

Action 8: Accelerate research to develop effective CO2 capture systems and systems to convert CO2 into synthetic fuels using renewable energy.

Action 9: Should we take a second look at nuclear power?

Summary (Table 13.1): Based on all the data available at present, the authors estimate that if nothing further is done (“business as usual”), 2050 emissions will be 77 GmtCO2eq. This could be reduced by about 31 GmtCO2eq using the proposals made above, so that emissions in 2050 would then be about 46 GmtCO2eq, equivalent to the global emissions in 2010. They consider this a clearly unacceptable result, certainly not “net zero,” but probably a realistic estimate.

The grim picture of “business as usual” presented in this book is terrifying, and the possible mitigations will be costly, difficult to implement, and risk failure. But the implications of the earth’s temperature increasing 2.0 to 4.0℃ (3.6 to 7.2℉) by the end of this century – bringing crop failures, famine, massive population movements, rising sea levels from melting glaciers, flooding, and major climate changes that bring more severe storms, tornados, and hurricanes worldwide, to name just a few – are far more horrific. Time is not on our side. The call to action heralded in this book is clear and existential. Please listen carefully to its message, as we will not get a second chance.

Nancy A. Winter

Distinguished Senior Researcher

The Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program

University of California at Santa Barbara

Librarian Emerita

American School of Classical Studies at Athens

54 Souidias St.

GR-10676 Athens, Greece

Nancy A. Winter

Reviews of 2n ed. | This book is highly readable, the facts are extremely concerning, and the Call to Action is compelling.

March 7, 2024

The authors remove any mystery from Global Warming and Climate Change. Cutting through the fog of complicated claims and counterclaims surrounding these topics, introductory chapters build on basic scientific principles and natural processes with straightforward language to develop a clear understanding of how global warming is due to increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. Equally clear is that climate change, as distinguished from short-term weather swings, is directly due to global warming. Continuing on our current path will inevitably lead to dangerous levels of warming. Even with very best efforts and extreme measures across the globe the goal of Net Zero is currently well out of reach.

However, the overarching message of the book is hopeful. We can make a huge difference by applying currently available, proven technologies to replace fossil fuels–reducing carbon emissions and hence global warming. We must get to work. Specific actions are detailed to get us on a path which can lead to a future Net Zero. Comprehensive electrification of our society and transformation of the mix of energy sources hold the keys to success. Upgrade and expansion of the electrical grid will be essential to move critical electricity from its widespread sources to where it is needed.

A 9-point Action Plan is put forth. The Plan focuses on replacing fossil fuel energy sources with wide- ranging electrification of homes, industries, and transportation. There is no magic or invention required in this transformation-it simply requires commitment. The key will be in serving the greatly increased electrical demand with renewable power sources, phasing out coal and phasing down natural gas. Building Design, Energy Conservation, and Agricultural advances are important elements of the Plan, but Electrification is the primary driver.

This book is highly readable, the facts are extremely concerning, and the Call to Action is compelling.

Richard L. Thompson, Caterpillar Group President, Power Systems Retired March 5, 2024

Reviews of 1st ed | The Path Forward

January 8, 2021

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the causes of global warming and what can be done to stop the current runaway. It includes solid facts and makes persuasive arguments for change, but avoids political extremism. This is essential background for both the general public and decision makers.

Jay Hubert, Ph.D., retired physicist, Chevron Oil Company

Write a review