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Can Science Fix Climate Change?: A Case Against Climate Engineering (New Human Frontiers) [Hardcover]

Mike Hulme
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 April 2014 0745682057 978-0745682051 1
Climate change seems to be an insurmountable problem. Political solutions have so far had little impact. Some scientists are now advocating the so–called ‘Plan B’, a more direct way of reducing the rate of future warming by reflecting more sunlight back to space, creating a thermostat in the sky.    In this book, Mike Hulme argues against this kind of hubristic techno–fix. Drawing upon a distinguished career studying the science, politics and ethics of climate change, he shows why using science to fix the global climate is undesirable, ungovernable and unattainable. Science and technology should instead serve the more pragmatic goals of increasing societal resilience to weather risks, improving regional air quality and driving forward an energy technology transition. Seeking to reset the planet’s thermostat is not the answer.  Climate change seems to be an insurmountable problem. Political solutions have so far had little impact. Some scientists are now advocating the so–called ‘Plan B’, a more direct way of reducing the rate of future warming by reflecting more sunlight back to space, creating a thermostat in the sky.    In this book, Mike Hulme argues against this kind of hubristic techno–fix. Drawing upon a distinguished career studying the science, politics and ethics of climate change, he shows why using science to fix the global climate is undesirable, ungovernable and unattainable. Science and technology should instead serve the more pragmatic goals of increasing societal resilience to weather risks, improving regional air quality and driving forward an energy technology transition. Seeking to reset the planet’s thermostat is not the answer. 


Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (25 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745682057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745682051
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Mike Hulme was born in London in 1960 and has lived in St.Andrews, Durham, Swansea, Khartoum, Salford, Harare and Norwich. He is a lifelong cricket fan and this inspired his twin interests in weather and statistics. These led him into a university academic career which has revolved around the study of climate and climate change. He is currently Professor of Climate and Culture at King's College London having moved from the University of East Anglia in 2013. In October 2000 he founded the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and become its foundation Director until 2007. His book Why We Disagree About Climate Change (2009) was chosen by The Economist magazine in 2009 as one of its science and technology books of the year. He is a frequent public speaker on climate change and appears regularly in the print and broadcast media. He is a member of the Church of England, an amateur historian and a keen genealogist; he has written a book about his experiences in discovering the joys of 'doing' family history.

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Review

"Mike Hulme eloquently and rationally outlines the arguments against proposals to use stratospheric aerosols to cool the planet and questions the ethics of even researching them. Regardless of whether one agrees with his conclusions, there is no doubt that he definitively makes the case that must be answered by proponents." Steve Rayner, Oxford University "In this slim volume, Mike Hulme takes aim at the proposal to fix the climate problem with a single engineering solution. He calls for a science that is more attentive to human ends, that serves humanity rather than seeking to rule it. This plea for humility from a world expert on climate change deserves close reading by anyone concerned with the fate of the planet." Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University "Few people talk as intelligently and compassionately about climate change as Mike Hulme. He is a rare voice of sanity and humility in an increasingly rancorous and megalomaniac debate." Fred Pearce, science writer and journalist

About the Author

Mike Hulme is Professor of Climate and Culture in the Department of Geography at King’s College London. His 2009  Why We Disagree about Climate Change  won  The Economist ’s ‘Book of the Year Award’. He has contributed to public debates in the UK and US, writing for  The Guardian  and the  Wall Street Journal . From 2000 to 2007 he was the Founding Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
While the premise of Mike Hulme’s latest book is relatively simple—that, while superficially appealing, the geoengineering techno-fix of stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) is not the silver bullet we should be looking for to ‘solve’ climate change—there is more to this slim volume than meets the eye. (And it does seem as if some previous reviews of this book on Amazon have somewhat missed the point of the book (or climate science full stop) which it to focus deeply on one issue and critique it in detail, rather than offering up the be-all-and-end-all tome about climate change).

In this brief, yet eloquently argued volume, Hulme strongly cautions against rushing into planetary-scale experiments that we neither fully understood, nor necessarily need. Hulme brings numerous concepts from the social sciences to bear on his argument, from governmentality to the precautionary principle and the risk society. A particularly interesting one is the discourse of the emergency whereby the idea of a planetary emergency (exemplified by the notion of tipping points and the call to limit temperature increases to no more than two degrees Celsius) operates as a fundamental rationale for geoengineering, changing the scope of justifiable actions and legitimate actors. However, Hulme strongly disputes this notion and brings up many salient and quite practical points in opposition, such as by whom should it be decided and at what cost?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars science over climate 30 Aug 2014
By E. Dale
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
found it easy to read and written succinctly in layman's terms for us unscientific types. not sure whether we're any nearer to the truth about climate change as it seems to present a very weak argument, so can science fix climate change?, not really sure but worth a read if only to get a debate going
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5.0 out of 5 stars An important book - recommended 8 Sep 2014
By Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
MH is Professor of Climate Change at Kings College London. Plan A is to tackle climate change is through multilateral agreement to reduce emission levels through the UN. So far it has been impossible to reach agreement.

Plan B is the subject of this book and consists of direct intervention by stratospheric aerosol injection into the heat flows from the sun to create a global thermostat. He argues against such action on three grounds:
1. It is undesirable because controlling global temperature is different to controlling local weather and climate.
2. It is ungovernable because of leaving open who sets the world's temperature.
3. It is unreliable because of the law on unintended consequences.
Therefore somehow agreement and implementation has to be obtained on Plan A.

An important single topic book.

Rating 5 out of 5.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valid conclusion based on a good argument. 5 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback
As a non-academic, I found Mike Hulme's book easy to read and edifying regarding the topic of climate change. It talks in simple terms of about the technologies that are called climate engineering that have been and still are very pertinent in how we live our lives today in a responsible manner. Hulme managed to convince me that even though climate change doesn't look like its going to get solved by politicians, an even worse solution is to think we can fix it by manipulating the skies with aerosols to reflect sunlight back into space. The review by Brand was interesting in agreeing that the technologies wouldn't work, but then I don't understand why He says Hulme's argument is a terrible one. My understanding is that Hulme takes us through in five simple stages to build up a convincing case. It's worth a read just to form your own opinion either to agree or not. This issue is not going to go away and people need to engage with the issue.
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