While having the appearance of a coffee-table book, complete with full-page color photographs, this is a very thorough work on a very serious subject. This is the most comprehensive book that I have read on the politics of climate change. In addition to the usual facts and figures, there is a good history of the negotiations leading to the Kyoto agreement.
The award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, has brought some added publicity to the problem of global warming or climate change. You may read or download for yourself the IPCC summary report which is available on the IPCC dot ch web site. Alternatively, you may wish to just look out the window. The people of New Zealand have been able to see icebergs large enough for helicopter landings floating by within a few miles of their shores for the first time in recorded history. Where I live, it seemed to take forever for our fall leaves to change color. We had a record warm October. The list of events that we see that have been predicted by climate scientists is seemingly without end. According to the IPCC, before the end of this century, we may live in a world of elevated temperatures, rising sea level, and extreme weather.
However, as dire as the predictions are, the reality is much worse. The climate models are indeed inaccurate ... in their timing. Climate change has accelerated beyond the predictions of only one or two years ago. In his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore states that the Arctic will be ice free in the summer in 40 years. That would put it about 2046. In this book, the date of prediction is down to 2020. However, there have been news reports in the last month that NASA climate scientists are now predicting the summer of 2012 as the date for an ice-free Arctic. The ice in question is floating sea ice. Its melting will not raise the level of the world's oceans. However, an ice free Arctic Ocean will absorb more sunlight, increasing the Arctic warming trend. If the Arctic Ocean is ice free, can the collapse of the Greenland ice cap be far behind? There is enough ice on Greenland to raise the world's sea level by 15 to 20 feet should it melt or as it seems more likely flow into the ocean.
The question used to be whether we will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in time to save the planet for future generations. That is no longer the issue. Can we now slow climate change enough so that we can enjoy the benefits of civilization, e.g. the Internet, HDTV, food, etc., through our own lifetimes? In our town, we are working to get our local government to ratify the US Mayors Agreement on Climate Change to work toward the goal of reducing our Greenhouse gas emissions below our 1990 levels by the year 2012. This is a quite reasonable goal; change the light bulbs to CFLs, make buildings energy-efficient, drive low carbon footprint vehicles. We can all do this; save some money and maybe the planet too.
I also recommend "With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change" by Fred Pearce. a book about recent scientific investigations and their implications for global warming.