The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights On

This book may be the best overview yet about glogal warming and what we must do about it.

The hot topic

Product details

Product name: The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights On

Reviewer: Jenny Blackford

Author: By Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Price: $29.95

Size: 309 pages

G Rating:


The Hot Topic may be the best overview yet about global warming and what we must do about it.

On the front and back cover are enthusiastic recommendations from high-profile experts: James Lovelock, the British scientist who created the Gaia hypothesis; Tim Flannery, environmental scientist and G editorial advisory board member; and former US vice-president, Al Gore.

The Hot Topic lives up to the praise.

It's neither hectoring nor bleak, despite the urgency that it expresses about the issues.

It's based on reliable, up-to-date science and economics, but at the same time it's unusually clear and readable.

It considers the global situation in terms of how climate change will continue to affect both the developed and the developing world, and also what can be done on a worldwide basis, by individuals, businesses and governments.

Science writer Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King, formerly the UK chief scientific adviser, say that the climate problem is hard, but not intractable.

Indeed, they call disaster scenarios, such as the shutdown of the oceans' circulation, "climate porn".

At the same time, they make it clear that the next two decades are our only possible window of opportunity to rein in greenhouse gases, and that governments and businesses worldwide must come to see change as a necessity, rather than as a luxury.

The problem of global warming is political as well as scientific; the developed world has had the benefit of centuries of industrialisation, but we are now faced with the massive expansion of industrialisation in the developing world.

We must subsidise developing countries to encourage them to 'leapfrog' the old, bad polluting habits of the industrial world.

For individuals, there is the accustomed good advice about turning devices off at the wall and so on (devices on standby cost the world one per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions - nearly as much as the entire much-maligned aviation industry).

The authors tell us, too, to be open-minded about controversial solutions such as wind farms and nuclear power.

People who feel inadequate in arguments with global warming sceptics will find useful ammunition in the appendix, "Climate Myths, Half-Truths and Misconceptions", which calmly disposes of such popular statements as "It's not really warming", "The Amazon rainforest is already doomed", and "We'd be better off spending the money on aid".

The Hot Topic is a fact-filled and constructive addition to the climate change debate.

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