Sur­viv­ing Global Warm­ing

Why Elim­i­nat­ing Green­house Gases Isn’t Enough

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Climate Change -

Roger A. Sedjo, Prometheus Books (MARCH) Hard­cover $24 (288pp), 978-1-63388-528-8

Roger Sedjo, a se­nior fel­low at an en­vi­ron­men­tal think tank and a shared re­cip­i­ent of the No­bel Peace Prize for his work on cli­mate as­sess­ment, is guard­edly hope­ful about hu­man­ity’s abil­ity to deal with cli­mate change—though Sur­viv­ing Global Warm­ing, in stark but re­al­is­tic terms, ar­gues that it must be han­dled dif­fer­ently.

The book of­fers sub­stan­tive proof that the cur­rent strat­egy of fo­cus­ing on pre­vent­ing green­house gases—called “Plan A”—is woe­fully in­ad­e­quate. It dis­cusses both the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives of mit­i­ga­tion, re­fer­ring specif­i­cally to Al Gore’s widely pop­u­lar view that car­bon and green­house gases are pri­mar­ily the re­sult of hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties and are im­por­tant con­tribut­ing fac­tors to global warm­ing. How­ever, Sedjo is strong and elo­quent in stat­ing that the world’s re­me­di­a­tion ap­proach, based on this view, “will be in­suf­fi­cient to fully halt cli­mate warm­ing.”

The bulk of the book’s con­tent re­volves around an adap­ta­tion so­lu­tion, called “Plan B.” The text is clear in dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween Plan A and Plan B, high­light­ing the fact that Plan B fo­cuses on “adap­tive man­age­ment,” or “man­age­ment of the dam­age as­so­ci­ated with warm­ing, rather than try­ing to stop the warm­ing it­self,” some of which is a nat­u­ral oc­cur­rence. While ad­mit­ting that the adap­ta­tion ap­proach is yet to be fully de­vel­oped, Sedjo pro­vides am­ple ex­pla­na­tions of ways in which it could be ap­plied as a kind of sup­ple­men­tal “in­sur­ance” to en­hance rather than re­place Plan A.

At the heart of the adap­ta­tion ap­proach is geo­engi­neer­ing, which is metic­u­lously de­scribed. Im­por­tantly, adap­ta­tion ac­tiv­i­ties can oc­cur largely on a lo­cal level rather than re­quir­ing in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to be im­ple­mented. In­cluded is a key dis­cus­sion of the po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges of this ap­proach.

Sur­viv­ing Global Warm­ing is provoca­tive and very pos­si­bly mon­u­men­tal in its vi­sion­ary mes­sage that more than cur­rent think­ing is needed to prop­erly ad­dress cli­mate change.

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