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Paperback | $21.95 Trade | £15.95 | ISBN: 9780262541930 | 232 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | 7 figures; 2 tables; 6 box illus.| August 2007

Essential Info

Climate Change

What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren


Most of us are familiar with the terms climate change and global warming, but not too many of us understand the science behind them. We don't really understand how climate change will affect us, and for that reason we might not consider it as pressing a concern as, say, housing prices or the quality of local education. This book explains the scientific knowledge about global climate change clearly and concisely in engaging, nontechnical language, describes how it will affect all of us, and suggests how government, business, and citizens can take action against it.

If people don't quite understand the seriousness of climate change, it is partly because politicians and the media have misrepresented the scientific community's strong consensus on it—politicians by selectively parsing the words of mainstream scientists, and the media by presenting "balanced" accounts that give the views of a small number of contrarians equal weight with empirically supported scientific findings. The science is complex, couched in the technical language of sinks, forcing, and albedo, and invokes probabilities, risks, ranges, and uncertainties. Policy discussions use such unfamiliar terms as no regrets policy, clean development mechanism, and greenhouse-gas intensity.

Climate Change explains the nuts and bolts of climate and the greenhouse effect and describes their interaction. It discusses the nature of consensus in science, and the consensus on climate change in particular. It describes both public- and private-sector responses, considers how to improve the way scientific findings are communicated, and evaluates the real risks both to vulnerable developing countries and to particular areas of the United States. We can better tackle climate change, this book shows us, if we understand it. We can use this knowledge to guide our own behavior and pressure governments and businesses to take action.

John Abatzoglou, Joseph F. C. DiMento, Pamela Doughman, Richard A. Matthew, Stefano Nespor, Naomi Oreskes, and Andrew C. Revkin

About the Editors

Joseph F. C. DiMento is Professor in the School of Law and former Director of the Newkirk Center for Science and Society at the University of California, Irvine. He is coeditor of Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren (MIT Press).

Pamela Doughman is an Energy Specialist with the California Energy Commission.


"A lucid argument for the importance of small, individual steps in the effort to combat global warming, as well as global policy changes." Deborah Donovan, Booklist


"Climate Change is a welcome addition to the public discussion of this vital issue. It is readable, well documented, and focused on the most important dimensions of the problem. The authors provide an excellent discussion not only of what we know and how we know it, but also of what climate change means for human security, now and into the future. Useful reading for anyone interested in understanding the problem and being part of the solution."
Ken Conca, Professor of Government and Politics and Director, Harrison Program on the Future Global Agenda, University of Maryland

"This ambitious book presents an accessible and engaging analysis of the multi-faceted issue of climate change. I recommend the book for anyone seeking to understand the process by which scientific consensus has been reached on the reality of human-caused climate change. I also recommend the book for those wishing to understand the societal and environmental threat posed by climate change, the challenges journalists face in conveying that threat, the political obstacles in dealing with it, and the ethical considerations that surround it."
Michael Mann, Director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, and co-founder of the website ""

"This book gives a great overview of the science and politics of climate change, from the causes and effects of climate change, to what we know and do not know about the science and how that knowledge has become politicized, to the many political efforts at all levels of governance to address the issue. Climate Change is written by acknowledged experts and yet reads with one voice; written in a way that will be accessible to novices and also appreciated by scholars. It gives both accurate information and hope. If you're only going to read one book on climate change, this one would certainly be a good candidate."
Elizabeth R. DeSombre, Frost Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College