This was the sixth book I have read that was exclusively about global warming. The others were The Weather Makers, Field Notes From a Catastrophe, The...moreThis was the sixth book I have read that was exclusively about global warming. The others were The Weather Makers, Field Notes From a Catastrophe, The Hot Topic, Storm World, and With Speed and Violence. All have been good and educational. Of these six, Hell and High Water is the best at explaining the underlying reasons why America refuses to pull its weight in the fight to combat what will undoubtedly be the major topic of the 21st century. The science of global warming is not covered extensively (the author asserts, correctly, that the scientific case has already been made and can be easily referenced by anyone who really wants to know), but the author makes up for that in his excellent coverage of the politics, probable consequences, and possible solutions.(less)
According to the author (from his introductory instructions) I should not have even bothered to read this book. According to him, his book is for peop...moreAccording to the author (from his introductory instructions) I should not have even bothered to read this book. According to him, his book is for people who think 1) global warming is bunk, or 2) the problem is way over-blown or not as important as a lot of other problems, or 3) haven't learned enough to form an opinion about it. Having read at least a dozen books on the subject of global warming and recognizing the very high probability of at least severe if not devastating consequences, I do not fit into any of these categories. But I read the book anyway and was glad I did.
First of all, the book is not meant to persuade anyone of the science behind global warming. It is simply meant to educate people about simple scientific tools and concepts that may be used by anyone to assess probabilities and risks associated with issues involving scientific matters -- like global warming. The author goes way overboard (in my opinion) to demonstrate that he is being unbiased in his methods even though he is unabashedly biased in his conclusions. He allows for everyone to develop their own methods and draw their own conclusions as they follow the scientific methods that he explains.
The most interesting part of the book was the explanation about the human tendency of "confirmation bias". This is what we all do when our minds tend to accept and even bolster the significance of data that supports our pre-held beliefs and biases while ignoring or discounting data that contradict them.
The book is written to be accessible and readable for everyone. The author's purpose is simply to make this debate understandable and open to analysis by the average non-scientific person. I feel that he succeeded in that regard and that I benefited greatly from reading it.(less)
Earth in Mind consists of several essays all with the themes of taking care of our environment and the role formal education can and should take in im...moreEarth in Mind consists of several essays all with the themes of taking care of our environment and the role formal education can and should take in improving the future of humankind.
Three or four of the essays were exceptional. Most of the rest were a little long-winded and overly ambitious or optimistic. There is just no way any but the most simple of the author's recommendations will ever be implemented. I would whole-heartedly support most of his proposals, but it just ain't gonna happen. Hundreds of years of capitalism, "free markets", corporatism, greed as a virtue, and "money or nothing" attitudes have become far too embedded and ingrained into our society to be simply whisked away just for the benefit of our planet's and our posterity's future well being.
Every idea and proposal in this book was well-written and well-thought out. But after seeing how impossible it is to make any kind of significant change (think health care reform, metric system, coin dollars, etc.) I found most of the proposals to be just impossibly ambitious.
I really enjoyed this book. It's been compared to A River Runs Through It (a five-star book in my list) because of the fishing theme and the underlyin...moreI really enjoyed this book. It's been compared to A River Runs Through It (a five-star book in my list) because of the fishing theme and the underlying themes of relationships, life, spirituality, and nature. The humor was pretty good too.(less)
A good, fairly short summary of the problem of global warming and the reasons it has become so much more of a political issue rather than the scientif...moreA good, fairly short summary of the problem of global warming and the reasons it has become so much more of a political issue rather than the scientific issue that it really is. A little short on the science (and even a little inaccurate in a couple of places), but really good on summarizing the social, economic, and political obstacles that stymie all attempts to do anything significant to solve the problem. It would be a good book for people who think it's all a scam. Of course, such people would never read a book like this.(less)
Edward O. Wilson is an all-around fascinating person. No one is more knowledgeable on the subjects of biology, ecology, and nature in general. And he...moreEdward O. Wilson is an all-around fascinating person. No one is more knowledgeable on the subjects of biology, ecology, and nature in general. And he can write in a way that is readable, interesting, and enjoyable to non-experts in those fields (like me).
The Future of Life is Wilson's attempt to describe the beauty, intricacy, and importance of the rich biological diversity that mankind has been blessed with. Most importantly, it details exactly how fragile certain components of our biosphere can be and how imperiled the world and our civilization will be if we continue the degradation of natural environments at the current pace.(less)
Bill McKibben is one of the leading voices advocating rapid and drastic response to the catastrophe that we have set in motion by our burning of unfat...moreBill McKibben is one of the leading voices advocating rapid and drastic response to the catastrophe that we have set in motion by our burning of unfathomable quantities of fossil fuels over the past one hundred years -- a process that continues unabated today despite our knowledge (as of at least 25 years ago) of the severe consequences that we, and especially our descendants, all face. The first half of this book outlines what has happened (i.e. what we have done) to our atmosphere and what consequences we are likely to face. The second half of the book details McKibben's approach to how communities, governments, individuals, and civilizations will, hopefully, be able to successfully deal with the coming changes.
I understand and appreciate the severity of the crisis that we are in, and Bill McKibben does an excellent job of explaining it -- probably better than any of the many other authors I have read who have treated this subject. But maybe I am just a real pessimist at heart because I just absolutely cannot imagine society making the changes that he advocates, at least not on anywhere near the scale that would need to happen. Simply breaking us of our consumer-oriented habits and forcing large corporations to actually own up to the reality of this looming crisis are things that are just not going to happen. Therefore, I hope for the best, but I'm preparing for (and expecting) the worst.
This was a good well-written book that everyone really should read. But the masses of Americans who don't read, don't study, don't question the status quo, and who get their "news" from Fox, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, et. al. will continue to live in their fantasy world of AGW denial -- as long as they have a Kenyan Muslim Fascist Communist Terrorist and his crony liberal socialistic bogeyman Democrats to blame for all their problems.(less)