Sunday, May 26, 2013

How can we live with it?

The Carbon Crunch: How We’re Getting Climate Change Wrong – and How to Fix It by Dieter Helm
Yale, 273 pp, £20.00, September 2012, ISBN 978 0 300 18659 8
BuyEarthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering by Clive Hamilton
Yale, 247 pp, £20.00, February, ISBN 978 0 300 18667 3
BuyThe City and the Coming Climate: Climate Change in the Places We Live by Brian Stone
Cambridge, 187 pp, £19.99, July 2012, ISBN 978 1 107 60258 8

On a damp, chill, blustery August afternoon in Whitby a few years ago I overheard a disgruntled holidaymaker declaiming – to his family, to anyone who would listen, to the wind – that ‘global warming is a load of codswallop.’ One of his children, a boy of around ten, was valiantly trying to explain to him the difference between climate and weather. But he wasn’t paying attention, or couldn’t hear over the gale and the sound of his own voice. ‘Global warming,’ he insisted again, ‘is a load of codswallop.’ This year’s April snows provoked similar sentiments in many quarters. ‘After such a long spell of cold, wet weather,’ Channel 4 News asked, ‘should scientists admit that the drastic temperature rises they predicted have failed to materialise?’ A few days later, Nature Geoscience published a paper showing summer melting on the Antarctic Peninsula at a level ‘unprecedented over the past thousand years’.

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