Keeping Our Cool: Canada In A Warming World Paperback – Dec 1 2009
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"At last, a look at climate that is accessible, fascinating, and ultimately, a call for action ... A gripping narrative, this should be the final alarm that galvanizes us to move onto a different energy path of renewables and efficiency."-- David Suzuki, founder, The David Suzuki Foundation
"Keeping Our Cool is a wonderful gift from a premier climate scientist to the rest of us. In the most reader-friendly prose, Andrew Weaver explains clearly and honestly what scientists do - and do not - know about our overheated planet. Andrew Weaver has given the rest of us a great gift - a clear, non-forbidding tour through the current state of climate science. Keeping Our Cool acknowledges our deepest fears even as it respects our intelligence." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
That's why it was so refreshing to read Keeping Our Cool by Andrew Weaver, a top Canadian climate modeler. He is a professor at the University of Victoria, the chief editor for the Journal of Climate, a lead author for the IPCC, and the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis. Certainly some impressive credentials.
The book was very well-rounded for climate literature. It covered basic scientific processes (with lots of fancy graphs), the history of climate science, and policy alternatives. But my favourite chapters had to do with the media and politics ' purely because they were Canada-specific.
I know all about George Bush's inaction on climate change. But until I read Andrew Weaver's book, I didn't see just how blatantly Stephen Harper was carrying on the torch. I've read Boykoff and Boykoff's study, which surveys American newspaper articles. But I was less aware of how the Canadian media reported climate change, apart from my local newspaper and news channel (and Rick Mercer, of course).
It was so refreshing to have a sense of what was going on at home for once, after wasting so much time trying to figure it out for myself.
My only complaint was that the book was poorly organized. It constantly switched back and forth from scientific explanations, to Canadian news, to examples of vested skeptical interests, to Canadian politics. This was probably deliberate, so that the chapters wouldn't get monotonous, but it makes it a lot harder to find what you're looking for later (like while writing a book review!)
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The book covers climatic science on two levels: in terms of the contents themselves, such as you would find in textbooks and scientific papers, and in terms of the position of science within a broader societal debate. He accurately highlights the degree to which entrenched interests have seriously muddled the public debate, creating deep confusion about how certain we are about key aspects of how the climate works. Topics well covered by the book include electromagnetic radiation, time lags associated with climate change, the nature of radiative forcing, the nature and role of the IPCC, ocean acidification, the history of human emissions, the general history of the climate, climate modeling, aerosols, hurricanes, climate change impacts in general, permafrost, and the need for humanity to eventually become carbon neutral. One quibble has to do with the sequencing: while the narrative always flows well, the progression through climate science looks a bit convoluted in retrospect. That makes it a bit hard to find your way back to this or that piece of useful information. The book features some good numbers, graphs, and analysis that I have not seen elsewhere ' such as a calculation of how much more carbon dioxide humanity can emit in total, given the desire to keep temperature change to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and various plausible values for climatic sensitivity. A second quibble is that the graphics are all black and white and printed at a fairly low quality. Sometimes, that makes them hard to interpret.
On the matter of international and intergenerational equity, Weaver comes to appropriate conclusions (that we should be concerned about future generations and that the rich states that caused the problem need to act first in solving it), but he fails to examine the ethical and policy issues in great depth. That is a minor failing, given the major purpose of the book, but it would probably leave someone who read only this book with a somewhat mistaken impression about the scale of changes being advocated and the ease with which they might be achieved. The book exaggerates the difference between a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system with 100% auctioning, and doesn't pay sufficient attention to areas in which regulation have the potential to be more effective than taxes (building codes, transport standards, etc).
In general, Weaver's book is a strong and useful introduction to climatic science. When it comes to the big questions about climate ethics, and the policy and technological measures that will permit the emergence of a low-carbon society, other authors have done better.
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