Synopses & Reviews
The Burning Question
reveals climate change to be the most fascinating scientific, political and social puzzle in history. It shows that carbon emissions are still accelerating upwards, following an exponential curve that goes back centuries. One reason is that saving energy is like squeezing a balloon: reductions in one place lead to increases elsewhere. Another reason is that clean energy sources don't in themselves slow the rate of fossil fuel extraction.
Tackling global warming will mean persuading the world to abandon oil, coal and gas reserves worth many trillions of dollars and#151; at least until we have the means to put carbon back in the ground. The burning question is whether that can be done. What mix of politics, psychology, economics and technology might be required? Are the energy companies massively overvalued, and how will carbon-cuts affect the global economy? Will we wake up to the threat in time? And who can do what to make it all happen?
"Although constrained by brevity, this book serves as an introductory discussion of the great pressing issue of our era. In the first four sections, carbon emissions researcher Berners-Lee (How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything) and environmental journalist Clark (The Rough Guide to Green Living) describe the crisis-available reserves of fossil fuels contain more than enough carbon to force the global climate in new and almost certainly destructive directions if burned. Combined with our apparent determination to burn every possible ounce of fossil fuel and our proven ability to sabotage mitigation efforts, this is ominous news for humanity and many of the species sharing the planet with us. The fifth section details some steps that might succeed in limiting the scope of the consequences of our actions. The authors' prose is clean and clear and their organization is sensible and well documented, backed up with a detailed index. Unfortunately, this short book denies the authors the opportunity to develop their arguments in the depth they deserve. More appetizer than main course, it is nevertheless recommended to those new to this topic.
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and#147;The Burning Question
is a fascinating examination of the forces that have led to our current predicament
and it presents an important framework for a sustainable future. I recommend it highly."and#151;Al Gore, 45th Vice-President of the United States
"There have been many books on this issue but The Burning Question lives up to the urgency of its title. Clearly set out, steely with the numbers but fair and humane in its assessments of human strengths and weaknesses, it is >b>a book to reignite the debate.and#8221;and#151; Peter Forbes, The Guardian
"sensible and well documented...recommended to those new to this topic."and#8212Publishers Weekly
and#147;The issues explored in The Burning Question are hugely important. Policymakers and the public urgently need to be engaging in this kind of big-picture conversationand#8221;
and#151;Jim Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
and#147;This is a book that needed to be written: it asks the right question then seeks the most effective ways of answering it. An essential contribution to our thinking about climate change.and#8221;
and#151;George Monbiot, Writer and campaigner
"Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark have lit a beacon for the wayward, listing ships of climate thinking ... and their strategy for action is nuanced and evidence-based"
"Probably the best synthesis of the key arguments over climate change that I've read. ... Clark and Berners-Lee have managed to bring a refreshing new clarity to the debate."
and#151;Joss Garman, Greenpeace
About the Author
is a leading carbon consultant and author of How Bad Are Bananas. Duncan Clark
is a Guardian
environment journalist and author of various successful books, including The Rough Guide to Green Living
. Both live in the U.K.