Sunday, June 25, 2017

Book Review: 'The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate' by Andrew Dessler and Edward Parson

Review by graachus (Nom de plume)

I recently read The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate by Andrew Dessler, an associate professor in the department of atmospheric sciences at Texas A & M and Edward Parson, a professor of law and associate professor of natural resources and environment at U Michigan. It's a sort of textbook from Cambridge University Press, published last month. This is sort of an odd book: meant I think for interdisciplinary seminars, it includes a bit of climatology, a bit of political science, a bit of economics, even a bit of political philosophy, in its attempt to relay the state of play with regards to the subject. 
It's a bit basic (I would have liked a little more of the science), and at 190 pages including bibliography, index, etc., is a bit short for the price ($30, as I recall). Its faith in rationalism is a bit naive in the current political climate, and the last chapter is mainly an essay on the authors' proposals for an alternative treaty to Kyoto that would both have more teeth AND be politically more palitable to developed countries. I'm not sure if I share the authors' enthusiasm for carbon sequestration and geoengineering.

That said, it gives a clear view what the scientific consensus is on climate change (that it's happening & that it's manmade) and offers reubuttals to "climate skeptics." Its clear rational tone adds weight to its rather understated assertion that opponents to action on climate change are acting in bad faith, rather than out of honest disagreement, possibly because they're being paid not to believe what most other scientists do believe.

It also makes the fair point that waiting to take action until we know everything, or until we know for sure that the phenomenon isn't self-correcting, isn't an option, given that by the time we know this it will be too late to do anything.

Editor's note: This review was originally published at the Daily Kos, which notes that its "content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified." The original page can be found here. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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