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Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity
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Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Climate change is not 'a problem' waiting for 'a solution'. It is an environmental, cultural and political phenomenon which is re-shaping the way we think about ourselves, our societies and humanity's place on Earth. Drawing upon twenty-five years of professional work as an international climate change scientist and public commentator, Mike Hulme provides a unique insider' ...more
Paperback, 392 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Cambridge University Press (first published 2009)
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Aug 07, 2011 John marked it as to-read
Excellent and thoughtful book by a British climate scientist which suggests (with much detailed discussion) that debates about climate change are often less about "scientific facts" and more proxies for our values, concerns, aspirations or fears. The central focus of the book is not on the science of "anthropogenic global warming" (though the first couple of chapters give an excellent history) but on how the *idea* of climate change bears on human assumptions about nature, rationality, governmen ...more
The big-picture lesson of Hulme's book is that climate change is not a "problem" people are going to be able to "solve," it's a reality we are going to have to figure out ways to live and survive with as a species, which has unavoidable moral and ethical implications for policymakers and all living beings affected by their policies.
Angus Mcfarlane
There is no doubt that we disagree about climate change. There are many who think we shouldn't disagree, either because they are themselves convinced and can't see how others could not be, or in a moral sense, feel that the risk obligates us to put differences aside. And in the narrow literal sense, I don't think anyone believes that climate doesn't, and isn't, changing but the implied sense that humans are responsible and therefore need to respond, is far from settled. If it were, we would have ...more
Eric Brandstedt
Mike Hulme is climate scientists who in this book has approached the phenomenon of climate change from quite a different point of view: a cultural rather than natural one. He argues that in order to grapple with climate change it is not enough to perceive it as an empirical problem, discovered by climate scientists and to be solved by the political community. Instead we must bring resources from the philosophy of science, economics, psychology, sociology and religion among other subjects. We nee ...more
Philip Chaston
Hulme's exposition on the uses and confusions of climate change is valuable in as much as demonstrating that uncertainty is not just a tool of the sceptics. However, as a social constructivist and cultural theorist, the text veers into models and streams that provide little confidence or material on the development of this monster. There are useful insights on the development of the term, its deployment in policy and the ethical underpinnings of activists from anarchistic and authoritarian ends. ...more
I was fortunate enough to take a course with Dr. Hulme during my Master's degree, and this book was the center of the course. It talks a lot about different framings of climate change and how we perceive risk in those different framings. The one thing that really stuck with me (I'm pretty sure its in the the book) is that many Americans don't believe in climate change because in the US we STILL call it global warming and so when temperatures drop all of a sudden global warming doesn't make sense ...more
Robert Wechsler
An incredible book that should be a template not for environmental books, but for books on almost any topic. This is one of the most important books I've ever read. Here's a summing up:

“Let us at least recognize that the sources of our disagreement about climate change lie deep within us, in our values and in our sense of identity and purpose. … Our disagreements should, at best, always lead us to learn more about ourselves – our lament for the past, our fear the future, our desire for control,
Hulme does exactly what he sets out to do: understand the reasons why people disagree about climate change. The book is highly readable, and, though written by a scientist, is not jargon-filled. Although I don't necessarily agree with his conclusions, his analysis of the issues surrounding climate change is quite good, and I would recommend it to any non-expert looking to understand why these issues aren't as simple as they occasionally appear to be.
I enjoyed this book. I come at climate change from a physical basis of facts and figures, so it made a change to read something which has a social perspective on the issue. I found it challenging at point to agree with the statements put forward on perspective of different groups. Was well written and bought up a lot of perspectives of climate change which I had not thought about before. Overall enjoyed a lot of this book.
This is a great and thought provoking book, bringing up such intricate cultural differences as how different societies value the life of, say, a cow - and how that effects our views on appropriate courses of action regarding climate change.

It is unfortunately a long and tedious read at times, however, even for sustainability buffs like myself.
Wens Tan
Excellent initial overview on the different standpoints of groups and organizations in the climate change debate, and notable personalities in the debate.

A welcome simplification for the beginner caught up in the rancor of debate.
This is a slog of a read. It seems disconnected and lacking in any clear thesis. But important points are raised here and there, so I persevere. Not recommended to non-climate-professional readers.
Interesting but long-winded and for someone who likes ideas presented concisely, it does not really work for me asi lost interest about a third into the book.
This was a great book that brought up a lot of interesting ideas and perspectives. At the end though I found him to be talking in circles. Still. A great read if you want to understand why you'll never win those online arguments with others about climate change. :)
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