Friday, 31 January 2014

Book Review - Living in a Warmer World

Edited by our own Jim Salinger, Living in a Warmer World collects essays on the topic of climate change from some of the world’s top climate scientists. It’s a good, solid read, and the work is very accessible for those interested in reading something a bit more digestible than the full IPCC reports. In many ways, communicating the consequences of climate change, as well as our options for mitigating or adapting to rising temperatures and changing climate regimes, is one of the more difficult messages for scientists to communicate to laypeople, so it’s encouraging to see a book like this providing an overview of the topic and how it relates to our lives. There are also some extensive “further reading” sections following each chapter for those wanting to go into further detail on a particular topic.

Aside from a brief treatment in the introduction and the chapter on glaciers, the book doesn’t spend a great deal of time on the evidence for human-induced climate change. This is an area on which a great deal has already been written, so it’s not something the book suffers for.  Rather, the focus is on the consequences which we can expect to face. The essays cover a variety of topics, including biodiversity, water resources, glaciers, agriculture, fishing and human health.

The chapters tie in well together, with some recurring themes, for example shifting geographic ranges have consequences for wild plants and animals, for agriculture and for human health as pests and pathogens likewise shift their ranges polewards. The viticulture chapter illustrates this particularly well, as there is a fairly narrow temperature range for winegrape production during the growing season, and therefore only a narrow latitude band where they can be cultivated. Each chapter also includes an outline of the options available to us to mitigate or adapt to the issue in question.

The book closes with some chapters looking at the discussions around climate change, including how scientists, politicians and the media have approached the issue. There is also a discussion of the ethics surrounding the issue – how should we value present costs of reducing emissions compared to the adaptation costs faced by future generations, and who should bear the costs? These are, of course, questions of more than academic interest.

Overall, I found this to be a very interesting book, providing a window into a variety of different topics relating to climate change. Definitely recommended reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment