Global Weirdness, Climate Central’s Book Debut, is quite well done. It is very readable and easy to understand. Rather than try to outdo the person(s) who wrote the blurb on the link above I'll reproduce it here. It says everything I want and more.
There’s a lot of debate about climate change, but not in the scientific community. People who actually study the climate overwhelmingly agree that greenhouse gases generated by human activity are pushing Earth’s climate into a state the world hasn’t seen for many tens of thousands of years. These experts don’t know to the last detail what will happen, but they’ve learned enough to make them very concerned.Read on below for a few comments.
This book is an attempt to explain why — to lay out the current state of knowledge about climate change, including what we know, how we know it, and what’s left to figure out. We’ve done our best to explain the underlying science given in clear and simple language, and without the melodrama that characterizes much of the conversation about climate change — “we’re all doomed,” on the one hand, and “it’s just a hoax” on the other. We aren’t interested in preaching. We believe that the facts, presented in a straightforward way, are convincing enough.
We’ve also taken great care to avoid bias. We acknowledge that some aspects of the problem can’t yet be addressed with certainty. We also make clear what climate scientists are confident about.
To ensure technical accuracy, each chapter has been carefully reviewed by Climate Central scientists. The chapters have then been reviewed again by eminent outside scientists who have particular expertise in the relevant subject areas—and then, if necessary, revised again.
The result, we believe, is an accurate overview of the state of climate science as it exists today.
The book was written in 2012 and the information is as fresh as possible. I say that because things are happening much faster than most of us expected. The study of climate and its possible relationship(s) to global warming is at best straining the capacity of the scientific establishment. This would be true even in the absence of the interference, denial, and obstruction coming from many quarters. Part of the reason for this is a special interest to many of us who are into what has become known as "complexity theory" for historical reasons.
I hope it won't surprise you to learn that complexity science has been through many similar spats and hassles as has climate science even though they have not had anywhere near the publicity. But that is another diary.
What made the biggest impression on me about this book is its openness about how little we actually know. It is no wonder that this is true from my bias since we are only beginning to assess the impact of a few hundred years of science being dominated by mechanistic reductionism. That too is another diary.
The irony about our situation is that the "know nothings" can have a fied day with the last few sentences and our honesty becomes our largest vulnerability. I often wonder why incomplete knowledge becomes an exceptable excuse for rejecting all knowledge for people with that world view.
I will extract a few ideas for this diary for they support a broad thesis about our situation in science held by a geowing number of us who are convinced we are undergoing a paradigm shift (again another diary or more).
The book does a nice job of stripping away the false myth that science and technology can save us. The review of alternative forms of energy supply is rather devistating if you are a believer in these myths.
The book also speaks about "social cost" which has been a pet problem for me whenever I see the dreaded word "cost" as it is popularly used. The reality of the notion of cost is so badly mangled and crippled that we have no real idea what anything really costs. But that is still another diary or more.
I'll not try to impose our view of prospects for the future on the book but I get the feeling the author(s) share much of our pessimism.
My colleagues and I have created a website addressing the notion that our choices reall boil down to two. Avoiding drastic change is not one of them. Change is coming. The only question is how we as individuals and collectively will behave from this point on. One choice is to continue to deny the inevitable to a greater or lesser extent. That is where I put all of us now. The deniers simply carry their denial a lot further than the "good guys". The other is to address the central problem in this denial for it, like the denial we see in all other addictive behavior, is the first step in many that are required.
We see this as a psychological problem of global proportions. Until we learn to accept what this means and deal with it for the first time in history, we see little hope. There is no substitue.
I know we are proposing something almost no one is willing to accept. Yet as we put forth our case more and more are beginning to see the picture as we do.
I suspect the folks at Climate Central are coming to a similar conclusion on ther own. This book is a beginning of a long process. I wish it great success.