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Climate Change

Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren

Joseph F. C. DiMento
Pamela Doughman
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 2
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Climate Change
    Book Description:

    Most of us are familiar with the termclimate changebut few of us understand the science behind it. We don't fully comprehend how climate change will affect us, and for that reason we might not consider it as pressing a concern as, say, housing prices or unemployment. This book explains the scientific knowledge about global climate change clearly and concisely in engaging, nontechnical language, describes how it will affect all of us, and suggests how government, business, and citizens can take action against it. This completely revised and updated edition incorporates the latest scientific research and policy initiatives on climate change. It describes recent major legislative actions, analyzes alternative regulatory tools including new uses of taxes and markets, offers increased coverage of China and other developing nations, discusses the role of social media in communicating about climate change, and provides updated assessments of the effects of climate change. The book first explains the basic scientific facts about climate change and its global impact. It discusses the nature of scientific consensus and the strong consensus of mainstream science on climate change. It then explores policy responses and corporate actions in the United States and the rest of the world, discusses how the communication of climate change information by journalists and others can be improved, and addresses issues of environmental justice -- how climate change affects the most vulnerable populations and regions. We can better tackle climate change, this book shows us, if we understand it.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32230-0
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Sheldon Kamieniecki and Michael E. Kraft

    The debate over climate change continues, and reconciling diverse and conflicting interests remains as challenging as it has been for the past decade. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the risks and costs of climate change grow in severity with greater levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Many US and international environmental groups have allocated substantial time and resources to lobbying political leaders in an effort to control greenhouse gas emissions. Most of their policy proposals, if adopted, will require substantial expenditures by business. Both fossil fuel producers and fossil fuel consumers, including average citizens and a wide variety...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction: Making Climate Change Understandable
    (pp. 1-14)
    Joseph F. C. DiMento and Pamela Doughman

    Over the centuries, humans have tried to change the weather. People have prayed, danced, seeded clouds, and used other strategies to get more rain, stop the rain, decrease the heat, and warm things up a bit. Seldom have we deliberately tried to changeclimate—the average weather conditions over an extended period of time—but we have unintentionally changed climate historically, and we are changing it today.

    This book draws on the vast knowledge of earth system science to explore those changes in climate, including important changes linked to the level of what are known asgreenhouse gases—the 3...

  6. 2 A Primer on Global Climate-Change Science
    (pp. 15-52)
    John T. Abatzoglou, Joseph F. C. DiMento, Pamela Doughman and Stefano Nespor

    The earth’s climate system includes a series of checks and balances that, in the past, have worked together to maintain a stable climate. However, mounting evidence suggests that this balancing act has been tested over the last century and a half. Multiple indicators—including increasing air and ocean temperatures, increasing sea level, and retreating glaciers and sea ice—all point to a warming planet.

    In this chapter, we present a primer on climate science and climate change. Climate, by its place-based definition, is an intuitive concept—we know it’s usually warmer in Honolulu, Hawaii, than in Fairbanks, Alaska. However, climate...

  7. 3 Climate-Change Effects, Adaptation, and Mitigation
    (pp. 53-104)
    John T. Abatzoglou, Crystal A. Kolden, Joseph F. C. DiMento, Pamela Doughman and Stefano Nespor

    Modeling of climate provides information about the physical manifestation of climate change at many levels, from the global to the local. In order to understand these changes, additional steps are needed to translate physical changes into climate effects and to assess risk avoidance through mitigation and adaptation efforts.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment report released in 2013 provided strengthened support of widespread observed changes in global climate. Decadal global mean surface temperatures have progressively increased over the last three decades and were warmer than any decade since 1850 (IPCC 2013, SPM-3). The last month with global...

  8. 4 The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?
    (pp. 105-148)
    Naomi Oreskes

    In December 2004,Discovermagazine ran an article on the top science stories of the year. One of these was climate change, and the story was the emergence of a scientific consensus over the reality of global warming.National Geographicsimilarly declared 2004 the year that global warming “got respect” (Roach 2004).

    Many scientists felt that respect was overdue. As early as 1995, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had concluded that “the balance of evidence” supported the conclusion that humans were having an impact on the global climate (Houghton et al. 1995). By 2007, the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment...

  9. 5 Climate Change: How the World Is Responding
    (pp. 149-226)
    Joseph F. C. DiMento and Pamela Doughman

    Scientists warn that it is too late to avoid climate change, but we can act now to ease the problem for our children and grandchildren. A large part of the United States population has come to this understanding. A 2006Los Angeles Times/Bloom-berg survey found that almost half of Americans think global warming is caused more by human activities than by natural changes in the climate and that 56 percent believe the government could do more to address the problem (Boxall 2006). A poll conducted by Stanford University in 2013 found that more than 80 percent of adults in the...

  10. 6 Climate Change as News: Challenges in Communicating Environmental Science
    (pp. 227-256)
    Andrew C. Revkin

    A few decades ago, anyone with a notepad or camera could have looked almost anywhere and chronicled a vivid trail of environmental despoliation and disregard. Only a few journalists and authors, to their credit, were able to recognize a looming disaster hiding in plain sight.

    But at least it was in plain sight. Now, the nature of environmental news is often profoundly different. Biologists these days are more apt to talk about ecosystem integrity than the problems facing eagles or some other individual charismatic species. The subject of sprawl is as diffuse and diverse as the landscapes it encompasses. Concerns...

  11. 7 Climate Change and Human Security
    (pp. 257-294)
    Richard A. Matthew

    In this chapter I argue that in much of the world today, the prospects for human security are linked to the trajectory of climate change. Unfortunately, rather than bringing the world together around a robust global action plan, this growing linkage may well divide the world into two increasingly disconnected solitudes.

    I begin by discussing the failures of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and the fear, especially pronounced within the science community, that we are losing ground and face a very turbulent and alarming future. I then briefly present the concept of human security. A...

  12. 8 Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren
    (pp. 295-318)
    Joseph F. C. DiMento, Pamela Doughman and Suzanne Levesque

    Climate change is a complex challenge, perhaps one of the largest the world has ever faced. This book has presented some important findings about climate-change science and related social and policy issues.

    We have described changes in climate, including those caused by human activities, and explained why there is a gap between scientific understanding of climate and actions taken by society to remedy the harmful effects of emissions-related climate changes. We have described why climate change has been difficult to understand, based on the characteristics of science as well as communication difficulties and political motivations.

    In this book, we described...

  13. Glossary
    (pp. 319-330)
  14. List of Contributors
    (pp. 331-334)
  15. Index
    (pp. 335-344)
  16. Series List
    (pp. 345-347)