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Recap and Bibliography

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So to sum up:

It is possible, and even probable, that climate change will bring an end to human civilization by the end of this century.

Four important reasons for this assertion are:

(1) Because a stable climate is key to all human systems, significant changes in climate will disrupt multiple human systems all at once, or in rapid succession, overwhelming our ability to respond.

(2) We can't wait until it gets bad before responding, because amplifying loops ("tipping points") may kick in, starting processes that we cannot stop.

(3) To all the natural amplifying factors, Man himself must be added, as potentially the most dangerous and unpredictable factor of all.

(4) All this augurs ill for attaining the international cooperation that will be essential to address this problem.

The three best books on this subject that I've read thus far, in order of the author's name, are:

Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars --Particular emphasis on the role of man in complicating matters. Dyer is more speculative than most, including a number of scenarios of particular regions in 15, 30, 60 years' time. Illustrating, in some detail, what may may lie in store for future generations.

Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes from a Catastrophe --Kolbert takes the reader to the front lines of climate change, effectively dispelling all doubts, and is very good at considering the big picture.

McKibben, Bill. Eaarth --McKibben is something of a latter-day wise man. While he begins this book by listing all the ways our planet is no longer the same (and thus deserves a new name), he turns to practical measures that we will have to adopt, many of which are simultaneously mitigation and adaptation.

In addition, the following tome is a kind of meta-level analysis which points to the political origins of our crisis:

Conway and Oreskes. Merchants of Doubt --The authors examine several decades of obfuscation and denial of various health- and environment-related issues--tobacco, the ozone hole, acid rain, and of course climate change--and argue that the people (frequently the same people) who deny the science in all these cases, do so on primarily ideological grounds, as threats to capitalism, and hence as threats to human freedom. While overlooking the enormous loss of freedom that we will face in eg. a world of runaway climate change. A superb book.


  1. Olde Europe's Avatar
    Thanks for the concise summary, K. Admirably done.
  2. kflaux's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Olde Europe
    Thanks for the concise summary, K. Admirably done.
    Thanks for taking the time to read it.

    A lot is left out. The effects of resource depletion etc.

    IAC, reason enough, more than enough, to be an "alarmist"....
  3. Olde Europe's Avatar
    Of course, a lot is "left out"; after all, the literature about climate change fills a library. Yet, the need to act, and to act now, is as conclusively explained as humanely possible.


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