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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Introduction
It's very striking that at least three of Amazon's top 20 books on global warming represent only the sceptical / George W Bush view, which is supplied mostly by economists funded by oil companies rather than publicly-funded climate scientists as it happens. Are readers earnestly searching for a balanced view, or is it that we prefer to read books that confirm our hopes...
Published on 6 July 2005

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The facts, but still too much optimism
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This pocket-sized book is from the extensive series of `very short introductions' by Oxford University Press. It was very useful to read on trains. It is a solid reference book, with plenty of guides to further reading and study. It was perfect for my purpose - to become an informed amateur on the subject.

It explains the science and the politics of the...
Published on 31 Jan 2010 by J. Vernon


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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Introduction, 6 July 2005
By A Customer
It's very striking that at least three of Amazon's top 20 books on global warming represent only the sceptical / George W Bush view, which is supplied mostly by economists funded by oil companies rather than publicly-funded climate scientists as it happens. Are readers earnestly searching for a balanced view, or is it that we prefer to read books that confirm our hopes and allow us to go on with our lives reassured?
This little book makes two major contributions to the debate. First it conveys all the essential information about global warming in an accurate and accessible way, soundly based in the author's extensive experience in paleoclimatic studies. But at least as important is the way in which it engages with climate change scepticism, showing how it is based in real scientific argument as well as self-serving dismissal. The arguments of sceptics are fairly represented, with some points frankly conceded and other rebutted with the help of the latest scientific evidence. But as well as arguing the specific claims, the author shows how the debate reflects deeper divisions between participants regarding conceptions of nature and risk. So for example sceptics might view nature as basically resilient, even eternal, thus discounting environmental risks compared with environmentalists who view it as basically fragile and transient. In other words, as well as trying to resolve some of the arguments about global warming, he shows how some are effectively insoluble in purely scientific terms. If you're after real balance, rather than ideologically-motivated reassurance, you can find it here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just want I wanted!, 12 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I am writing an essay for my global warming module and felt that i wanted something to explain the basics to me before I went into too much depth and this was perfect! The content was consistent with what I was learning on my course and was explained similarly to my lecture making it clear, concise and easy to understand and pick out info as a starting point. Read over one day picking out what i wanted - though to be honest I did read most of it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The facts, but still too much optimism, 31 Jan 2010
By 
J. Vernon (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
+
This pocket-sized book is from the extensive series of `very short introductions' by Oxford University Press. It was very useful to read on trains. It is a solid reference book, with plenty of guides to further reading and study. It was perfect for my purpose - to become an informed amateur on the subject.

It explains the science and the politics of the science very fluently. It is calm and objective, but firmly putting down doubts and canards about whether global warming is actually happening and whether or not humans are a prime cause of the current phase of warming. The conclusions are clear, but still cast in an admirable Popperian humility and willingness to go on searching for truth and facing difficult facts.

Buried in it are some appallingly depressing facts. For instance, the worst case scenario of the IPCC for carbon dioxide emissions in the 21st Century is already being exceeded by a large margin and accelerating. The consensus modelled predictions for consequent temperature rise in by 2100 are around 6 degrees. The impacts of this scenario in terms of weather patterns, sea level, ocean acidity, fresh water scarcity, crop yields, disease, biodiversity and human population are so bad that the author simply writes `Don't go there' - having described the probable outcomes of lower temperature changes.

He tries to inject a positive note at the end by describing solutions and his personal vision of a new urban environment. But, frankly, these ideas seem like pissing in the wind, compared with the possible changes to our sustaining environment soberly examined in the book.

John Vernon
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 17 Oct 2009
This review is from: Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I believe everyone should read this book.

It is a great little introduction to the current issues of global warming, examining a lot of factors contributing to our knowledge about the science behind our climate and the earth, as well as looking into the arguments of the skeptics.

He quotes a lot of different writers, and there is a comprehensive list of books at the end of the book, which includes other great books like Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist.

This book makes it very clear what things matter, how things work, what can be done, and what should be done. He especially highlights the importance of arriving at a new, better protocol that will help us out of the mess we've gotten ourselves in, by taking drastic measures against further exploitation and pollution of our planet (we only have one). This is the protocol that will be decided in December in Copenhagen, which is why we must make sure to put pressure to our governments to stop talking and start acting - there really isn't much time.

A great little book, and -just like the other books of the series- it provides a very comprehensive insight at a very complicated issue, and does so in an enjoyable and engaging manner.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rigorous, informative and thorough - an excellent examination of climate change science, 21 May 2008
The Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press has a good reputation for presenting challenging subjects in an easily accessible manner. Mark Maslin's "Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction" is a timely addition to the series, tackling what is arguably the dominant issue of our age.

After providing an overview of the history of the global warming debate in science and the media, Maslin examines the underlying psychology behind different popularly-held views of our climate, arguing whether we see Nature as, for example, resilient or fragile is conditioned by our world-view (individualist or collectivist; fatalist or optimist). While this is an interesting diversion, and adds a new spin on the debate, it is presented in a confusing manner and threatens to put the reader off before the book has even properly begun. This would be a shame, however, for Maslin provides an excellent analysis of the evidence for global warming, examining the methods - past and present - used in gathering climate data (balloons, boreholes, satellites etc) and how these are collated to create a coherent picture of our global climate.

More than simply a presentation of the case that global warming exists, however, Maslin provides an insight which is both fair and balanced, highlighting some of the more contentious issues, while skilfully discrediting the main arguments posed by sceptics. At the same time, though, he is careful to concede that there are some areas which climate change science has not yet taken into consideration. One such concerns the effects of galactic cosmic rays in stimulating the formation of clouds - the effects of which on warming or cooling the planet are still not fully understood themselves. Maslin also points out areas in which there is still a large degree of uncertainty - such as the exact magnitude of future temperature increases and sea-level rises - as well as the limitations of current climate models in projecting the future.

Climate change is seen throughout the book as a gradual, linear process, and it is only late on that the author discusses in depth possible 'surprises' - abrupt events which could have a sudden and catastrophic effect on our climate, such as the potential shutdown of the global oceanic conveyor, or the release of gas hydrates into the atmosphere. Much research has gone into these subjects, and one feels that just 15 pages - only 2 on gas hydrates - is insufficient to cover them properly. Indeed climate change research in general has moved on apace since the book's first publication in 2004; the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released early in 2007, thus superseding much of the information - provided by AR3 in 2001 - on which this book is based.

The text is supplemented by no less than 38 illustrations and diagrams, serving for the most part to elucidate the themes presented, although some may be difficult for the lay reader to interpret. Disappointing is the list of suggested further reading, which includes only 18 titles and makes it difficult to use this book as a springboard for finding out more. As an alternative introduction to the subject, however, I can highly recommend Robert Henson's "The Rough Guide to Climate Change", the second, revised edition of which was published early in 2008 and which does incorporate the new findings from IPCC AR4. Even more compelling than either Maslin or Henson, however, is Bill McGuire's "Global Catastrophes: A Very Short Introduction", the first half of which directly concerns anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change, and illustrates through the impacts global warming is likely to have exactly why this is an issue we should be deeply concerned about.

Everything considered, "Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction" is - a few minor shortcomings aside - a rigorous and convincing primer on what is a challenging and often contentious subject.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent review, with some original ideas too - well worth the modest investment in time and money, 12 Jan 2008
By 
Nicholas J. R. Dougan "Nick Dougan" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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Professor Maslin has written a wide ranging, comprehensive and reasonably balanced review of global warming theory, despite declaring himself part of "the consensus" pretty early on. His 150 or so pages are an excellent summary, covering the greenhouse effect hypothesis, its history, evidence that warming is already happening, thoughts on how we might mitigate its effects, political problems and eventual solutions. Much of the material is from the IPCC's Third Assessment Report (so perhaps an update is on the way) although Maslin brings in other material as well. The most innovative of the chapters dips into the psychology of global warming acceptance/scepticism, and while this may not be a normal part of a geographer's repertoire it is thought provoking all the same. There is quite a lot on storms - this appears to be one of Maslin's own areas of research, and here he is more qualified about stating causative links. He also comments on press coverage, contrasting the Guardian (for which he was a contributor) with The Times, which was more sceptical.

Maslin puts the sceptics case fairly and courteously, although mainly to seek to disprove it or to seize on those elements of global warming theory that sceptics have conceded. While he names many of the consensus thinkers by name, however, he mentions few sceptics; while he does cover the theory of "Chilling Stars", for example, and even gives it an abbreviation (GCRs = Galactic Cosmic Rays), Henrik Svensburg is not mentioned in the text.

He has not, I am afraid, moved me much from my "don't know to moderately sceptical that warming is man-made" position. For example, he accepts the importance of water-vapour as a greenhouse gas, and goes on to accept that water-vapour and the mechanism for cloud formation is one of the least well understood processes. It seemed to me that the next step was to admit that this meant that there was a great deal less certainty in the climate models as they currently stand than some suggest. I was disappointed, too, (as it was one of my purposes in reading the book) that he does not explain any experimental basis quantitatively linking increased CO2 with increased temperature. The computer models (which he explains in concept, though not in individual detail) must have a formula (amongst many) to the effect that "additional 100 ppm CO2 = a temperature rise of x degrees C". You will be none the wiser as to how the (many different) values of "x" might have been calculated.

This was the first of OUP's "A Very Short Introductions" that I have read; there were 133 of them listed I this 2004 edition. I shall certainly read more, but would like to suggest to OUP that they print them in a slightly larger format - at 7" x 4.5" they are rather smaller than standard paperbacks these days and the print is unnecessarily small. While written by a scholar, the book does not give footnotes so it is not easy to establish exactly where a particular fact or argument originates.

That though, is a minor quibble. Overall, an excellent summary with a few original ideas of Maslin's own.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars readable and largely balanced, 9 Aug 2011
This review is from: Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This is one of the better ' Very short introductions' being both readable and authoritative. The author covers the causes, effects and solutions to global warming, addressing sceptics' arguments. The prose is accessible, and generally explains technical arguments lucidly. One small gripe is that the graphs sometimes contain too much information and things like 'ppmv' are insufficiently explained. Nonetheless, does what it says on the tin very well, highly recommended.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars greta lil intro, 10 April 2013
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This review is from: Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This book gives a great brief introduction to the current information surrounding global warming. Its short, simple and easy to read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet, 29 Nov 2011
By 
M. Mainelli "elniklaus" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
If you want to give one book to people who want to know what the global warming fuss is, this is it. Mark Maslin has put together possibly the briefest, punchiest overview without going polemical. A good stocking stuffer.
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3 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Over-simplified diatribe, 13 May 2012
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This review is from: Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This is yet another hysterical and alarmist book about global warming. It is unclear what qualifications Mr Maslin has to pontificate about the topic, but he appears to accept the IPCC reports as the gospel truth, and omits or underplays the serious criticism of those reports and the underlying "science". Being first published in 2004, it is well out-of-date now, and thus fails to mention the Climategate scandal as well as the growing counter-consensus to the IPCC conclusions. To start with CO2 is a mild greenhouse gas (GHG) and not a toxic pollutant, as he might wish us to believe. CO2 is a vital gas for plant life, and increases in its very low concentration in the air actually promotes plant growth. Water in the form of the vapour or aerosol (as clouds) is a far more important GHG, and is ignored or minimised in the many computer models of the climate on which the IPCC bases its arguments. Since the book was written, we have not been inundated with vast floods, little or no land has disappeared under the sea, and indeed, global temperatures have dropped (as our recent very cold winters testify). So much for the predictive power of computer models, which are similar to those used in weather forecasting, and we all know how unreliable they can be. But the dangers of taking the advice of the IPCC or those advocated by Mr Maslin in adopting so-called green energy technology are great indeed, especially as many are unproven and are very costly. Wind energy, for example, has to be subsidised to exist at all, and wind is an unpredictable force to harness. We are not alone in this madness: the EU have promoted these dangerous policies, but they have been rejected by the outside world, especially by the USA, China and India and much of the developing world. They rely on cheap energy from coal and increasingly gas, to generate low cost electricity to power their industries. It is China we have to thank for keeping the world economy afloat despite the recession in the west, caused by the banking crisis. The EU is currently in peril of collapse of its currency, the Euro, and its industries are severely affected by the carbon taxes brought in to allegedly reduce carbon emissions. In fact, they have the opposite effect, since China (free of such taxes) can increase its own industrial output and displace European industries, creating more CO2 from its expanding electricity generation sector. The book comes with numerous over-simplified diagrams in which error or uncertainty are absent, thus misleading the reader further. If you want a fairer and more balanced account, the book by Robert Carter (Climate: The Counter-Consensus, 2010) provides a suitable introduction to the subject, a refreshing counterblast to the doom-mongers of yesterday.
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