Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Climate Change Books of 2008: Real Climate Roundup

Real Climate is, of course, one of the most authoritative blogs on climate change science.  Here's what Real Climate has to say about 2008 books on climate change.Real Climate link

As is usual, we have a brief round-up of books we have found interesting or noteworthy this year. While we mainly focus on new books, we include a couple of new editions of older books, and of course, our previous reviews might still be of some interest (2005, 2006, and 2007).

The prize for the most optimistic title this year goes to Wally Broecker, for "Fixing Climate" (written mainly by Robert Kunzig). This is a book written in a particular style - a number of recent advances in relevant paleo-climate (abrupt changes, mega-droughts, etc.) are examined through the lens of a single scientist and their one key measurement or observation. This makes for a good narrative, but without wishing to take anything away from the great science discussed or the individual insights, it's only a partial picture of how these interesting ideas actually took root and got validated by the wider community. The climate fix the book ends up backing is a scheme for the air capture of CO2 (discussed here, and more recently here). The technology is fascinating, but at over a couple of hundred $/per ton CO2, the economics are a long way from being viable. But read about it for yourselves. 

Also dwelling on paleo-climate is Chris Turney's Ice, Mud and Blood. Eric reviewed this for Nature, noting that "Turney is by no means the first to try to articulate the point that paleoclimatology has lessons for our future. Richard Alley's The Two-Mile Time Machine and Mark Bowen's Thin Ice, to name just two, have made the same basic arguments. But Turney's book is the most up to date, and I would certainly recommend it to colleagues, who will enjoy it and may well learn something new, as I did."

Finally, it is definitely worth paying attention to books that may have been out for a while, or in a new edition. We were particularly impressed with Richard Somerville's award-winning introduction to understanding environmental change "The Forgiving Air" which has just been re-issued.

Another notable paperback this year was from Joe Romm (of Climateprogress.org). His "Hell and High Water" is mostly focused on policy solutions. As is a new book by Jay Inslee and Bracken Hendricks "Apollo's Fire". Congressman Inslee has been known to pass by RealClimate now and again. It does worry us a bit that the very first chapter refers to our friend and colleague Cecelia Bitz — a noted sea ice expert at the University of Washington — as 'Carol', and we hope that this is not indicative of the fact-checking care in the book. It looks to be an interesting contribution to the discussion of U.S. climate policy and it is especially timely to have a serious book on solutions to the problems in the Middle East, climate change, and the economy, all rolled into one. We look forward to reading this more closely.

And of course, we are far too modest to mention our own humble offerings…. ;)

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