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The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate [Paperback]

Professor Andrew Dessler , Edward A. Parson
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.99
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Book Description

18 Feb 2010 0521737400 978-0521737401 2
The second edition of Dessler and Parson's acclaimed book provides an integrated treatment of the science, technology, economics, policy, and politics of climate change. Aimed at the educated non-specialist, and at courses in environmental policy or climate change, the book clearly lays out the scientific foundations of climate change, the issues in current policy debates, and the interactions between science and politics that make the climate change debate so contentious and confusing. This new edition is brought completely up to date to reflect the rapid movement of events related to climate change. In addition, all sections have been improved, in particular a more thorough primer on the basic science of climate change is included. The book also now integrates the discussion of contrarian claims with the discussion of current scientific knowledge; extends the discussion of cost and benefit estimates; and provides an improved glossary.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (18 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521737400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521737401
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17.3 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'This timely, informative and well-written book does an excellent job of explaining, in language accessible to everyone, the scientific basis for our current understanding of global warming and climate change, as well as societal implications and the political barriers to sound, rational policy. Its co-authors are well recognized experts in science and in public policy. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of this complex issue - what the debate is all about - and as a core textbook for introductory courses on the environment, climate change, or public policy.' Neal Lane, Former Science Advisor to President Clinton and former Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation

'As the scientific evidence on human induced climate change becomes stronger and more widely accepted, voices that question it appear to get louder and seemingly more coordinated. In a complex area such as climate change, politics inevitably runs into conflict with the domain of science. This book is a timely analysis of the scientific evidence of climate change as well as the political forces that question its full acceptance. Dessler and Parson have produced a remarkable piece of work that is relevant for the scientific community in understanding the political implications of their work and for politicians and the public at large to understand not only the overwhelming scientific evidence that has emerged in recent years, but also the remaining uncertainties that need to be addressed in future scientific endeavor. This feature alone and the simple and readable manner in which the book is written make it essential reading for scientists as well as the concerned public at large.' R. K. Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India

'… there is a real need for a comprehensive book on climate change … The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change is it. It does exactly what the title and subtitle promise, providing insights into the causes and effects of the contributing meteorological phenomena and into why it has been so hard to get consensus among governments … copies should be shipped to anyone who doubts the reality of climate change, starting with presidents in denial.' New Scientist

'… requires no specialised knowledge, but is accessible to any educated general reader who wants to make more sense of the climate change debate. It also sheds light on how science is used in policy debates.' The Chemical Engineer

'Excellent overview of an increasingly critical issue.' Future Survey

'Each of the key aspects of global climate change is covered, with up-to-date and well-referenced information throughout. Its impressive breadth and the provision of succinct overviews of source material in the further reading sections of each chapter mean that teachers, lecturers and researchers will all find this book a useful starting point for in-depth study. There are now numerous taught masters courses on 'global change issues', and this book constitutes a must-have addition to their reading lists. … read the book in its entirety - it is well worth it. … [This book] is an excellent attempt at deconstructing the confusion that surrounds the climate-change debate. This reviewer has been waiting some time for a book such as this to appear. … The science and politics of climate change are brought together quite seamlessly, … Dessler and Parson's book is a must for those who want to move beyond the rhetoric and understand the relationship between climate science policy, and also for those seeking an interdisciplinary outlook on the management of global environmental issues. … This book will be most useful to undergraduates and post-graduates in the fields of environmental science, sustainability and international politics. Each of the key aspects of global climate change is covered, with up-to-date and well referenced information throughout. its impressive breadth and the provision of succinct overviews of source material in the further reading sections of each chapter mean that teachers will all find this book a useful starting point for in-depth study. … as a primer that brings together global climate change science and politics it succeeds very well indeed.' Times Higher Education Supplement

'This is an excellent way into the subject for the beginner … one of the most lucid and readable introductory accounts of the topic that has been published in some while. As such it should be seen as a 'must-buy' and an essential addition to the library.' TENews

'I found the book quite well written, with a good explanation of a suitable range of relevant scientific, 'political' and economic concepts … I believe it is a good candidate for a primer for mulitdisciplinary classes devoted to climate policy.' Randall M. Wigle, Wilfrid Laurier University

'This is a book which all scientists and the educated general public should read and reflect upon before it is too late to halt the apparently inevitable progress to Armageddon.' Chromatographia

'… provides perhaps the most comprehensive and comprehensible analysis of the debates around climate change and is likely to become a foundational text for students, scholars, policymakers, and citizens seeking clarity on this topic. The scholarly value of The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change is indisputable. Dessler and Parson independently possess significant authority on both the science and the politics of climate change. Their treatment of the subject illustrates the complexity of the problem with remarkable ease and clarity. By juxtaposing the scientific and the political processes, they enrich the academic literature which has traditionally separated the two and open up new avenues for exploring policy solutions. Scientists will find value in the discussion of how their work is used by policymakers. Those knowledgeable about the politics of climate change will find value in the discussion of the science.' Global Environmental Politics

'… a useful compendium of the current debates in the science and politics of climate change … succinct and consistent book … Ensure[s] fluent reading for non-expert, yet educated, citizens. The book is logically structured and it should become a key reading and teaching source in geography and environmental sciences. It can also be valuable to doctoral students and senior researchers interested in learning about climate change science and politics. Overall it is a book worth having on one's shelf.' Environmental Sciences

'As more and more extreme weather events around the globe are being associated with climate change, it is sometimes difficult to be able to see the wood for the trees, but this book takes the reader very clearly through the 'maze' of claims and counter-claims. … if only government leaders would read, digest and follow up some of the suggestions in the last chapter, there would be optimism that the problem can be overcome. As always with Cambridge University Press, the book, which is illustrated with diagrams, charts and boxes, is impeccably produced, and is an absolute 'must' for every reader of this journal.' International Journal of Meteorology

'Written by an atmospheric scientist and a law professor with extensive public policy experience, the book effectively tackles the rough-and-tumble intersection of science and policy that has led to confusion and inaction … The scholarly value of [the book] is indisputable. Dessler and Parson independently possess significant authority on both the science and the politics of climate change. Their treatment of the subject illustrates the complexity of the problem with remarkable ease and clarity … the carefully thought-through recommendations make this book critical reading for policymakers … considering action on the issue.' Maria Ivanova, College of William and Mary

'Each of the key aspects of global climate change is covered, with up-to-date and well-referenced information throughout. Its impressive breadth and the provision of succinct overviews of source material in the further reading sections of each chapter mean that teachers, lecturers and researchers will all find this book a useful starting point for in-depth study.' David Reay, Edinburgh University

'… both insightful and engaging … the book is also highly readable and well suited to reach a wide audience. That's good, because the gaps in understanding between scientists, policy makers, journalists, and the public remain a major barrier to the adoption of sensible responses to the problem. Dessler and Parson's book will help because it provides us with a sound and thoughtful guide to the climate change debate. … It explains scientific and policy debates, discusses areas of knowledge and uncertainty regarding climate change, and offers possible policy options.' American Meteorological Society

Book Description

The second edition of this acclaimed book has been brought completely up to date to reflect the rapid movement of events related to climate change. It provides an integrated treatment of the science, economics, policy, and politics of climate change, for the educated non-specialist, and courses in environmental policy or climate change.

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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
2.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource, very rigorously written 13 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I required to derive some clarity from the raging debate about the 'truth' of climate science. In this book I found an excellently balanced guide to the situation, with informative summaries of the relevant science and the contrary arguments. It aided me to identify that scepticism of man made climate change can also be viewed with scepticism. Unlike the consensus view justified thoroughly in this book, sceptics of man made global warming have not presented wide-ranging evidence with which to defended their case for non-human causes of the recent warming. The book carefully examines all non-human factors which might potentially be causing the warming and sets out why it does not appear that any natural forces could be responsible, while human emissions appear very likely to be responsible. The book also usefully identifies that sceptics of man-made climate change have not proved that human emissions of greenhouse gases cannot cause the recent warming.

I did not go to this book for its guidance on politics of climate change. However after satisfying myself with the science sections, I then found that the politics sections are also very useful. Particularly helpful is the explanation of why policy actors act as they do and why they contrast with scientists so much, while also drawing on 'scientific' arguments to support their policies.

Overall highly recommnended to anyone seriously concerned with knowing the truth about what is causing climate change.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars nothing new here... move along. 13 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback
This is well written but pointless book. Often it illustrates the obvious and is written with huge bias. It is not a "guide to the debate". For there clearly is for alarmists "no debate to be had". The vast majority of skeptics want to debate the science and most accept we could be causing the climate to shift in the short or medium term. But you can not have a debate with scientists that accept a scenario as fact yet use words like "suggests", "may", "could" , "likely" , "possible"... I expected so much more from this book but it was very disappointing.
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2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars faking science 16 May 2012
Format:Paperback
Dr Goebbels once said that if you repeat a lie enough enough, people will come to believe you. His words could stand as the motif of this book, which pretends to provide a fair and even discussion of the great global warming debate. They appear to accept everything the IPCC utters as gospel truth, but we now know that the authors of their various reports (the most recent from 2007) are not correctly peer reviewed but rather reviewed by a handful of carefully selected believers. Thus we encounter errors and mistakes such as the well-known prediction of the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers in 2036, a precise date which clashes with the known uncertainty of any climate predictions. It was apparently taken from an article (not from a scientific journal) published by an environmental activist. Although the IPCC has since admitted the howler, the reputational damage remains. But to return to the book, Chapter 2 looks at how science works and the authors argue that peer review is completely effective in screening research results. My own experience as a peer reviewer for scientific journal is that the process can work well provided the reviewer is independent and does not know the author of the paper. However, if the reviewer is selected as a friend or colleague of the author, then one can only expect a whitewash. As the Climategate emails showed, prominent climatologists have been abusing the system to promote their own viewpoint using close colleagues for review purposes. In another break with scientific protocol, those climatologists then refused to divulge the data sets they had used to outside and independent analysis. Scrutiny and scepticism are at the very heart of scientific advances, and if you twist the rules, the reduce the credibility of your theories or ideas. Read more ›
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4 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deadly dull and biased 5 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback
My comments apply to the second (2010) edition. If you want to read a lengthy academic exposition on "normative claims" and "positive claims" (value judgements and factual statements) then this book is for you. The bowdlerized description of peer review seems comical in the wake of climategate. The book pretty much follows the establishment party line on the scientific validity of global warming. It leaves out extremely strong arguments against global warming hysteria. For example the fact that the early 20th century warming from 1910 to 1940 was as strong as the late 20th century warming from 1970 to 1998 yet it is clear that CO2 had nothing to do with the early century warming and worse no one actually knows what caused the early century warming. But apparently the scientists "know" that the late century warming was caused by greenhouse gases.

The authors' basic technique is to try to seem objective by quoting skeptics but not to take them seriously. Unfortunately a lot of naive people will probably take this book seriously.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 27 April 2012
By L. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Recently used this book for an online course, and I really enjoyed reading though it. This book provides you with a nice overall look into the world of Climate Change Politics. What I really appreciated about this book is that you do not need to have a degree in Climatology or Political Science to understand the material.
4 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Biased essay 16 May 2012
By Dr. P. R. Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dr Goebbels once said that if you repeat lie enough enough, people will come to believe you. His words could stand as the motif of this book, which pretends to provide a fair and even discussion of the great global warming debate. They appear to accept everything the IPCC utters as gospel truth, but we now know that the authors of their various reports (the most recent from 2007) are not correctly peer reviewed but rather reviewed by a handful of carefully selected believers. Thus we encounter errors and mistakes such as the well-known prediction of the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers in 2036, a precise date which clashes with the known uncertainty of any climate predictions. It was apparently taken from an article (not from a scientific journal) published by an environmental activist. Although the IPCC has since admitted the howler, the reputational damage remains. But to return to the book, Chapter 2 looks at how science works and the authors argue that peer review is completely effective in screening research results. My own experience as a peer reviewer for scientific journal is that the process can work well provided the reviewer is independent and does not know the author of the paper. However, if the reviewer is selected as a friend or colleague of the author, then one can only expect a whitewash. As the Climategate emails showed, prominent climatologists have been abusing the system to promote their own viewpoint using close colleagues for review purposes. In another break with scientific protocol, those climatologists then refused to divulge the data sets they had used to outside and independent analysis. Scrutiny and scepticism are at the very heart of scientific advances, and if you twist the rules, the reduce the credibility of your theories or ideas. There are no references at all to Climategate in this book, for example, a surprising flaw given what the messages revealed. It is also surprising that they do give quotations from some of the sceptics like Lindzen and Singer, but then ignore their arguments completely. They seem to rely only on their selected "experts" such as the IPCC, which gives the entire book an air of systematic bias. In fact the world climate has been cooling for the last decade, an event not foreseen by the IPCC, and neither could their misleading climate models account for the severe cooling phase in the 1940's to 1970's (we were lucky then, because the cold Russian winters of the 40's helped defeat Adolf Hitler). None of the dire outcomes of the IPCC report have occurred, such as sea level rises drowning countries, species extinction, Biblical floods and etc. Terrible floods have happened, but as a result of tsunamis. It is such counter-evidence that these authors have ignored, and so this book cannot rank as an unbiased and fair account of the alleged problems of climate change.
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