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Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change [Hardcover]

Andrew T. Guzman
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

6 Feb 2014
Deniers of climate change sometimes quip that claims about global warming are more about political science than climate science. They are wrong on the science, but may be right with respect to its political implications. A hotter world, writes Andrew Guzman, will bring unprecedented migrations, famine, war, and disease. It will be a social and political disaster of the first order.

In Overheated, Guzman takes climate change out of the realm of scientific abstraction to explore its real-world consequences. He writes not as a scientist, but as an authority on international law and economics. He takes as his starting point a fairly optimistic outcome in the range predicted by scientists: a 2 degree Celsius increase in average global temperatures. Even this modest rise would lead to catastrophic environmental and social problems. Already we can see how it will work: The ten warmest years since 1880 have all occurred since 1998, and one estimate of the annual global death toll caused by climate change is now 300,000. That number might rise to 500,000 by 2030. He shows in vivid detail how climate change is already playing out in the real world. Rising seas will swamp island nations like Maldives; coastal food-producing regions in Bangladesh will be flooded; and millions will be forced to migrate into cities or possibly "climate-refugee camps." Even as seas rise, melting glaciers in the Andes and the Himalayas will deprive millions upon millions of people of fresh water, threatening major cities and further straining food production. Prolonged droughts in the Sahel region of Africa have already helped produce mass violence in Darfur.

Clear, cogent, and compelling, Overheated shifts the discussion on climate change toward its devastating impact on human societies. Two degrees Celsius seems such a minor change. Yet it will change everything.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (6 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199933871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199933877
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,232,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"[I]ts strength lies in its clear-eyed assessment of the costs involved in various policy responses to the issue." - Washington Post"A respected legal scholar, educator, and economist, Guzman is far from an environmental alarmist. His precise analyses and stirring conclusions are presented in unambiguous terms, and with compassion and concern for those most likely to be affected by a continued lack of action on the most critical issue of modern times." ---Booklist"A disturbing yet realistic examination of the consequences of a warmer world." --Kirkus Reviews"Overheated provides a lucid vision of the catastrophic consequences we will face if we fail to transition away from a fossil fuel-based economy. What gives the book power is the perspective it provides, of a legal scholar who initially viewed climate change as an interesting topic for academic research, to a passionate advocate for tackling the greatest threat human civilization has yet faced. If you care about the future of our planet, read this book."--Michael E. Mann, Director of Penn State Earth System Science Center and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars"Andrew Guzman offers a concise and useful overview of the kind of problems a heating world will encounter-indeed, already is encountering. There's nothing alarmist here-just straightforwardly realistic, and hence all the scarier."--Bill McKibben, author Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet"In Overheated, Andrew T. Guzman, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, compellingly lays out the specific shocks that these trends are likely to administer to human populations, their governments, and the bottom lines of their productive economies. " --Bookforum

About the Author

Andrew T. Guzman is Professor of Law and Associate Dean for International and Executive Education at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include How International Law Works and International Trade Law, among others.

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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alarmism is unhelpful to the discussion 20 Feb 2013
Another author cashing in on Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

Global warming has been on hold for 14 years (source - UK met office) and CO2 is still increasing. I'd like to see this addressed in this book. The warm spell from the 70's to 90's seems to have been temporary and part of a cyclic effect. Calling it climate change is disingenuous...look at the big yellow book title.

This book continues to preach the precautionary principle says we must act even if there is no problem. Unfortunately the risk calculation is based on action being without risk or cost. We know now that bottom left quadrant is not without risk or cost. The risk is we are generating fuel poverty by pursuing impracticable renewable strategies that are turning out to be costly white elephants.

The book is based on flawed models and dubious data. Read it alongside the official IPCC projections which are modified down every time they are released. And keep in mind the "snow is a thing of the past", "desertification of south east england" and "the seychelles are drowning" predictions all of which have failed to come to pass.

If you still believe, I have a plans for a citrus farm in Kent you might want to invest in...
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Future in a Different World 2 Feb 2013
By David R. Cassatt - Published on Amazon.com
"Overheated," by Andrew Guzman, is not just another climate change book. For one thing, Guzman is a lawyer with a background in economics, not a scientist, so those looking for a thorough scientific explanation of climate science will be disappointed. Those who are concerned that he would approach the scientist like a lawyer will have their concerns allayed - his scientific exposition is relatively brief, but it is firmly grounded in science. But it is his background and his ability to bring the subject to a human scale that makes this an invaluable volume.

Guzman does explain enough of the science to make the subject understandable, but his strength is in describing the effects of climate change, both current and future. From drought to famine to war to pestilence, Guzman constructs a veritable stable for the apocalyptic horsemen. The scenarios are alarming without being alarmist. The history of these factors in human civilizations, an understanding of what is currently happening and predictions of what could happen to these factors and are all used to drive home the point that the effects of climate change put our civilizations at risk. The story is less about saving the earth than it is about saving civilization. Although the former is important, it is realistic to assume that action by governments will come about because of the risk to people.

Besides its readability and clear language, the book succeeds because of four factors. First, Guzman bases his predictions on conservative estimates of the experts, a change of 2°C, so he is looking at a scenario that has a high probability of happening (acknowledging that it could be even worse). Second, the fact that he is not a scientist means that he has a good handle on what information is important for the non-scientist. Third, his expertise in economics allows him to look at economic scenarios and assess their probabilities. Last, he uses a wealth of analogies to make daunting concepts understandable. We respond much more to stories than to data, and Guzman has obviously learned this important communications lesson.

At the end of the book, Guzman describes the excuses for inaction (using the analogies of a child putting his head under the covers and a teenager procrastinating) and assesses the actions that are being discussed. This final section is relatively brief, but particularly strong, and his explanation of the economics and politics of a carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade is a must-read. In fact, the volume itself should be widely read, and should take its place along with the heavy-duty scientific books and books about the denial machine.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about the impacts of global warming 10 Aug 2013
By Art Hobson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book describes realistically the multi-faceted impacts of present and future global warming on many aspects of society in the United States and globally. Guzman discusses the implications for agriculture, water resources, human conflict, health, and other areas. For example, he makes a good argument that the Darfur genocidal conflict was the world's first "climate war."
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The missing piece is finally here. 27 Feb 2013
By Francois Theberge - Published on Amazon.com
There is much discussion and publications about the changes that climate disruption could bring upon us, and above all, on our descendants. Alas, said discussions tend to stick in the stratosphere of generalities.

Guzman's book bring it to the ground, where it matters to each and every one of us. The book is well-documented, and contrary to the blatant falsehoods put forth by some, (a constant every time a publication about climate disruption hit the wires) the sources are accurate and factual.

The bottom line? If you don't want to have to tell your daughters that there is a high probability that they'll never be grandmothers, read this book. It'll motivate you to take action.
3.0 out of 5 stars Some valuable info, but a very amateurish report 6 April 2014
By Michael Heath - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think the implication of our failure to mitigate the threat of climate change is unquestionably the most important topic of our time. Yet it's rarely considered by the public; and is a topic that yields few book sales or widely read articles in mainstream periodicals.

I hesitated for several months to purchase this book. That's because I'm aware of the fact that climate scientists don't predict a 2º C rise as the expected result by 2100. Instead 2ºC increase is a higher-bound prediction if we get on a more aggressive mitigation path than we're currently following [1].

The 2014 IPCC's "business-as-usual" prediction (RCP8.5), which is our current path, reports an expected rise of 3.7º C with a range of 2.6º C to 4.8º C [2].

So why read this book if it covers the implications of a less probable, and more benign outcome? Amazon reader comments in David R. Cassatt's review convinced me that Guzman was on sufficient-enough ground using a modest prediction rather than the expected future result. That's because a 2º C increase still results in catastrophic results that are confidently held in the climate science community; so the warnings should be well heeded even at 2º C.

While I think this book was well worth my time given there are few resources that collectively report the implications of climate change, this effort is deeply flawed. Mr. Guzman is not a scientist where he's in dire need of scientific collaboration from two aspects. One would be to report more scientific findings on the implications of a 2º C rise and secondly, to guarantee the overall presentation is up to scientific standards in terms of precisely framed communications.

Mr. Guzman speculates far too much, using his common sense to tie past afflictions to his own predictions of the climate change threat. For example, disparate populations being condensed into close proximity during WWI led to mass deaths via the spread of contagious diseases. The currently observed (Syria) and predicted loss of water resources in poor, populated regions will result in mass migrations. These conditions at least increases the probability of future mass epidemics.

I'm confident this general threat assessment is probably accurate, but I'd appreciate far less coverage of past tragic events with mere speculation about the future and instead, far more reportage on predictions by scientists publishing on this topic.

Perhaps we have the technology now to mitigate this sort of contagion threat. That's doubtful, but I wouldn't assume the past would repeat itself since not all conditions are similar, particularly given our technological advancements. I think it would have been far better to more fully report the prediction of scientific assessments on epidemics and edit out the common sense assessments by our layman author.

I also found the coverage on predicted changes to the ocean life and food chains in general far too lightly analyzed. This argues that the reader of this book should complement this book with Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, which focuses on the mass extinction threat humans have introduced via anthropogenic global warming.

Overheated also needs a science-centric editor to eradicate all the sloppy language and thinking. We're confronted with Guzman's non-scientific rhetoric that is gut-cringing to science literate readers reading about a science-centric topic. Terms like, "felts", "knows", and the misuse of other terms; e.g., "believers" and "skeptics". For the latter, `skeptics' is his term for those instead behaving like standard-issue denialists, green-washers, or cranks/contrarians. There's also a lack of citations for provocative factual assertions and a misleading dice analogy [3].

Guzman did shine on reporting the risks of fresh water shortages. Especially vivid were observations and predicted shortages in Guzman's own backyard of California. I also enjoyed his reporting on agricultural threats in Africa. Too bad other threats weren't reported to these levels of excellence.

The book does inform its readers, so it's worth the read. It's just frustrating to see so few efforts on a topic of paramount concern where here the author is an amateur. If no one person is fully qualified to present a sufficient overview of the implications of global warming, then please, lets see collaborative efforts.

1] Scenario RCP4.5 according to the IPCC's 2014 Summary for Policymakers report

2] Ibid, Table SPM.2

3] Page 2 of the Kindle version of Overheated: Temperature predictions are not discrete possibilities as Guzman asserts but instead a continuum of possibilities like I report above from the IPCC report. Guzman does recover a couple of [Kindle] pages later.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Climate change will bankrupt us 11 Oct 2013
By Harry C. Triandis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is obvious that climate change is very costly. However, I see no political will to do anything about it.
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