Books to Get You Thinking

April 2010 marks the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day. It’s a good time to focus on the environment and climate changes resulting from the greenhouse gases and global warming that threaten the future of our planet, and the steps that must be taken, both individually and collectively to slow down this alarming trend. Earlier this year the Copenhagen Climate Talks between nations ended with an agreement that was fairly limited in its scope on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Amidst all the prevailing debate over climate change and the environment, here are some books that discuss different facets of global warming and its consequences for the future of the world, as we know it.

Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis by Al Gore.
In his sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore presents a comprehensive, insightful analysis of the complex forces, both scientific and political, that lie at the heart of the climate crisis. Unique to this book are the accompanying stunningly beautiful photographs that highlight the devastating effects of global warming and an in-depth discussion on the eco system, including soil, forest and populations. Gore gives the readers a clear understanding of the different sources of energy, their uses, and comprehensive viable solutions that countries can pursue to mitigate climate change and avert future environmental disaster.

Hot Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman.
Following on the heels of Friedman’s bestselling book The World is Flat, this book provides a lucid and articulate investigation of the current crisis that looms over America and the world. The author pinpoints globalization as directly leading to higher levels of manufacturing and economic activity, which when coupled with continuing population growth and a rising middle class increases the global demand and dependence on oil. This eventually leads to higher levels of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Friedman sees leadership by America in research, investment, and use of energy efficient and green technologies as pivotal in any solution to curbing the environmental crisis and preventing irreversible and damaging ecological changes.

The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery
The author, a leading environmental scientist, makes a compelling argument about the dangers of a rapidly changing climate on the future of animal and plant life. In addition to documenting the effects of climate change, the book also carries clear scientific explanations of the effects of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases resulting from human activities, on the world’s climate patterns. The last part of the book contains a checklist of actions that can be taken globally to lower carbon emissions and prevent catastrophic climate changes.

Climate Change: Picturing the Science by Gavin Schmidt, Joshua Wolfe, foreword by Jeffrey Sachs
Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist along with photographer Joshua Wolfe put together this unique book that combines spectacular photographs of global warming with definitive explanations of the science behind this phenomenon. Included are essays written by leading scientists from different fields woven into a cohesive and powerful treatise on a new sustainable way of life that would preserve the delicate ecological balance of earth. The images of the melting polar caps, rising ocean levels and fierce storms drive home the enormity of the problem and the urgency of a global response to the crisis.

A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack
A leading geophysicist and professor at the University of Michigan focuses attention on the role that ice has played in shaping climate and the landscape and the earth’s geological balance. The rising population, increasing industrialization and the consequent step up in the burning of carbon based fossil fuels has led to increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. This in turn translates to warmer temperatures that are slowly melting the ice caps, the ice on the mountain tops, and the glaciers in the oceans. Pollack provides a comprehensive analysis of the disastrous impact of the disappearing ice on the earth’s ecological balance – an outcome that can be halted only through a concerted global effort directed at dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.

- Nita Mathur

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