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The Burning Question: We can't burn half the world's oil, coal and gas. So how do we quit? [Paperback]

Mike Berners-Lee , Duncan Clark
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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'A fascinating examination of the forces that have led to our current predicament and it presents an important framework for a sustainable future. I recommend it highly. The climate crisis is a challenge unprecedented in its scale and complexity. We simply must confront this existential challenge and stop making it worse. That will require the awakening and activism of people all around the world. ' Al Gore, 45th Vice-President of the United States

'The issues explored in The Burning Question are hugely important. Policymakers and the public urgently need to be engaging in this kind of big-picture conversation.' Jim Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

'This is a book that needed to be written: it asks the right question then seeks the most effective ways of answering it. An essential contribution to our thinking about climate change' George Monbiot, writer and campaigner

'Fossil fuels are so last century. The Burning Question tells us clearly why and how to get off them, but crucially also explores why we aren t doing anything much about it at the moment, and points the finger at the villains of the piece. Terrific' Sir Tim Smit, Founder of the Eden Project

'One of those books that doesn't shy away from delivering an uncomfortable message there's no sweetening of the pill, placating political interests or pandering to commercial sensibilities it simply tells it like it is. But much more than that, in accessible language it develops responses to the challenges we face not utopian social change, or unrealistic technical wizardry, but rather a portfolio of options thought through at a system level. The Burning Question is an important contribution to understanding both the scale of the climate challenge and how we may yet develop a low-carbon and climate-resilient society. ' Professor Kevin Anderson, Deputy director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research

'To keep climate denial from turning into climate despair that we don't know how to solve the climate challenge without suppressing civilisation we need a realistic assessment of the problem and an optimistic set of solutions. This book gives us both, in a short but compelling narrative that may be the difference between a glide to a decent future and a crash of civilisation. Read it, share it, and start preaching its gospel.' Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development

'An extremely clear-sighted and highly readable account of the factors fanning the flames of climate change with plenty of practical suggestions how to set about extinguishing them.' Baroness Worthington, Climate change policy expert and life peer

'It s terrifyingly simple. Burning carbon made our modern industrial world. Now we've got to stop burning it. We've got to stop drilling for oil and gas, and leave the coal in the ground. We've got to prick the carbon bubble, write off half the assets of the world's biggest industry, and break the infrastructure and mental lock-in that is preventing viable new energy technologies from taking over. This is the big picture story of why and how that must happen. And why, so far, we are abjectly failing. Brilliant.' Fred Pearce, author of The Last Generation

'At a time when we're making the climate debate 'small', a series of bite-sized chunks each to be 'smuggled' through a resistant policy system, Berners-Lee and Clark remind us that the debate is actually huge in its global scope, its likely impact and, most importantly of all, in terms of the solutions we need to adopt. --Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business, Marks & Spencer

> 'An easy-to-read book about a difficult-to-solve problem. Berners-Lee and Clark illustrate why climate change is such a complex issue. But also that it has a solution.' Samuel Fankhauser, Co-Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE

'The image of scientists and academics used to be one of calm, mild-mannered people but today the frustration among many is palpable. This book shows why. The gap between evidence, policy and practice is yawningly wide. This book tries to bridge that gap, offering a reasoned account of the problem and suggesting what we might do about it from global policy to culture change.' Tim Lang, Professor of food policy, City University London

'Climate change is the most difficult problem the world has ever faced. Berners-Lee and Clark have compressed this complex issue into a short and highly readable book that covers science, psychology and sociology. Uncompromisingly rigorous but easy to read, this book is a perfect introduction to the central topic of the twenty-first century.'Chris Goodall, Low-carbon technology expert and author of Sustainability: All That Matters

'This book hits the climate nail bang on the head: we can only avoid devastating damage if most of the world s coal, oil and gas are left in the ground. In wonderfully clear and readable prose, the authors set out the facts and what we must do about them. It deserves to be widely read: I only hope it will reawaken the climate movement, which has gone into such desperate decline over the last three years. Only public pressure will force governments to close down coal fired power stations and end our oil dependence: this book is a lucid and powerful call to arms.' --Michael Jacobs, Visiting professor, Grantham Research Institute, LSE and former special adviser on climate change to the UK Prime Minister

Book Description

Take one complex scientific discipline. Add the future of energy, economics and geopolitics. Season with human nature ...

About the Author

Mike Berners-Lee is a leading carbon consultant and author of How Bad Are Bananas?, one of the bestselling green books of recent years.

Duncan Clark is a Guardian environment journalist and author of various successful books, including The Rough Guide to Green Living.

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