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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise yet well-argued social science case against stratospheric aerosol injection
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...
Published 6 months ago by Vida Winter

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can Science Fix Climate Change?
I liked this book. Climate change is a topic that, whether we like it or not, is going to be shoved in our faces and down our throats for a long time. Rightly so; it is an issue. So, however, are some of the resolutions being proposed to resolve it.

And that is Hulme's point.

He delivers his own argument well enough; sourcing is good, and the text is...
Published 1 month ago by southcoastreviewer


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise yet well-argued social science case against stratospheric aerosol injection, 1 Sept. 2014
By 
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?

Hulme is particularly concerned about SAI (as opposed to for example, ocean fertilisation or carbon capture and storage) because it is most likely to be implemented based on cost relative to (potential) effectiveness, it has received legitimacy from well-regarded scientists and is actively debated in policy circles, and, most importantly, that despite the illusion of control over the Earth given by the idea of a ‘global temperature’, the significant environmental, social, ethical and political risks of SAI have been hugely under-analysed and debated. As the quintessential ‘wicked’ problem, Hulme contends that climate change is not the type of problem best addressed by technological end-of-pipe solutions and that SAI as a techo-fix is “undesirable, ungovernable and unreliable” (p.xii).

In addition to the overall logic of the argument, one of the main things that makes Can science fix climate change? worthy of a read is that it is about more than geoengineering, but can also be seen as a contribution to the vast and fascinating literature about nature—how it can be defined, whether we consider ourselves as human beings part of, or separate from the environment around us, and what our role should be in stewarding or mastering the Earth (or somewhere in-between). This book doesn’t say anything particularly new for readers already deeply engaged in ethical debates about science and technology, but is interesting for non-specialists, particularly in the way that it applies some quite abstract philosophical concepts to a concrete example.

(This is a condensed version of a review originally posted on LSE Review of Books)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can Science Fix Climate Change?, 13 Jan. 2015
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southcoastreviewer (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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I liked this book. Climate change is a topic that, whether we like it or not, is going to be shoved in our faces and down our throats for a long time. Rightly so; it is an issue. So, however, are some of the resolutions being proposed to resolve it.

And that is Hulme's point.

He delivers his own argument well enough; sourcing is good, and the text is well-balanced. It reads well; Hulme evidently has a flair for creative and essential debate. Where this fails, however, is completely ignoring what science can and is doing to work towards reversing the problems climate change is causing and, in this, the book loses some credibility.

Still, it's a fabulous argument on the other side of the hyper-maniacal coin.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mis-titled invective against would-be climate engineers, 12 Jan. 2015
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Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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Mike Hulme is Professor of Climate and Culture at King's College London and founder of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. His latest book on climate change, "Can Science Fix Climate Change?", is a relatively slim volume (150 pages + index) laying out the arguments against climate engineering through deliberate atmospheric modification, particularly through the use of stratospheric injection technologies or other methodologies for implementing a so-called planetary thermostat. The first four chapters of the book present cogently argued reasons why it is unethical, reckless and pointless even to research such technologies, let alone contemplate their deployment. The fifth (and final) chapter wraps up the subject by giving some pointers as to how scientific and engineering endeavours might be better focused by reframing the entire question of managing climate change by concentrating on pragmatic goals more attuned to serving the (global) public good.

As an invective against the hubristic and megalomaniacal techno-fix that climate engineering undoubtedly is, the book works well. Where it fails, however, is as a balanced overview of the contributions that science can make to an understanding of the issues that societies generally need to tackle around climate change. Throughout the book, the author generally tars all scientists with the same brush, appearing unable to recognise that whilst would-be climate engineers all operate within the scientific community this does not mean that all scientists are would-be climate engineers or even that they must inevitably be in favour of an engineered approach to climate change avoidance. In reality, of course, the number of advocates for climate engineering in general represents only a small minority of the world's climate scientists, whilst those who openly advocate or pursue research into stratospheric modification -- the geoclique, as Mike Hulme brands them -- is an even smaller group (albeit it one with a disturbing disproportionate degree of influence on the policy making of powerful Western governments).

The author does a good job of keeping his text non-specialist in its subject matter. Most readers will, I suspect, find that the is text overly repetitive in places, with many of the author's points being heavily laboured. That said, however, the book should prove an interesting read for anyone interested in knowing the ins and outs of why climate engineering is such an incredibly stupid idea, regardless of whether climate change is real, or even anthropogenic in nature. Anyone actually interested in finding an answer to the question posed in the book's title will, sadly, need to read more widely.
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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
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book - recommended, 8 Sept. 2014
By 
Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe "Cathy SL" (Reading Berks) - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Climate Change - Much to Think About, 22 Sept. 2014
By 
K. Petersen "Ken" (Hemsby,UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an immensely readable book: no mean feat for a work such as this. Mike Hulme keeps both jargon and acronyms to a minimum. He also speaks in a common sense manner; no wild theories here.

Hulme argues that the urgency being expressed by scientists and politicians is over-blown: not, in the sense that climate change doesn't matter, but he suggests that the, "We only have 24 hours to fix the climate" brigade are creating panic for their own ends. He does a very good job of gain-saying the idea that a 'global thermostat' might be installed in the form of a sulphate aerosol shield to deflect the sun's rays. The earth, he states, cannot be uniformly controlled. The shield might reduce overall temperature but would, almost certainly, cause havoc with local weather systems.

My only criticism, is that he appears to believe that things will not be done without global agreement. If recent history has taught us anything, it must surely be that, when the USA and Europe decide that something is going to be done, the views of everyone else count as nothing.

This book gives a considerable amount of information and certainly leaves me better informed to take part in any discussion of global warming. I would highly recommend the reading of this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid and essential, 25 Sept. 2014
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A very balanced, clear-sighted take on the current climate change debate and pursues an argument that scientic methods alone cannot cure the phenomenon of climate change. This is a much needed argument in a culture that verges on scientism much of time, believing blindly that more science can solve the problems science itself has created. Hulme argues that a more clear-sighted, human dimension needs to be incorporated into the solution-search and that technological developments alone are not enough and indeed, as many ordinary people are beginning to sense these days, may be more dangerous to implement than the actual process of climate change itself.

A vital addition to climate change literature and a lucid, holistic narrative that really needs to be listened to and as importantly, understood. An essential book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Topical, 8 Oct. 2014
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
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The subject of climate change is on the agenda for the entire world at the moment and it's something we're trying to fix in the UK by developing alternative ways of producing energy - solar panels, wind turbines etc. As a result we're all being hammered by green taxes, while China and India and the USA, to name but three countries, pump billions of tons of filth into the sky on an annual basis.

This books looks at 'Plan B' - nothing to do with the mediocre singing and rap performer Ben Drew - and discusses method for stopping global warming in its tracks.

This is a very interesting extended essay.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written academic but readable book, 24 Oct. 2014
By 
Gary White "gwhitegeog" (Fulham, London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Mike Hulme is Professor of Geography at Kings College, University of London. he knows a thing or two about climate change management, and rightly concludes, in this short book, that trying engineer climate change (e.g. 'space mirrors') is nonsense at a whole series of levels. He makes the case for climate change mitigation as the main way forward. I very interesting read, highly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars science over climate, 30 Aug. 2014
By 
E. Dale "elained2" (W. Yorks, England UK) - See all my reviews
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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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