The Burning Question: We Can't Burn Half the World's Oil, Coal and Gas. So How Do We Quit? Paperback – 15 Apr 2013
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Praise for How Bad Are Bananas?
'It is terrific. I can't remember the last time I read a book that was more fascinating and useful and enjoyable all at the same time(Bill Bryson)
An engaging book that manages to present serious science without preaching (New Scientist)
Enjoyable, fun to read and scientifically robust. A triumph of popular science writing (Chris Goodall)
The image of scientists and academics used to be one of calm people mildly watching the world of data and prodding it now and again. Today, the frustration among many is palpable. This book shows why. The gap between evidence, policy and practice is yawningly wide. And widening. This book tries to bridge that gap, offering a reasoned account of the problem and suggesting where and how we might change as consuming societies. In my own area of food, this seems to point one way - culture change. Read this and it'll help you think about the options for how to do that (Timothy Lang 2013-03-15)
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 2013-03-15)
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, 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, How nature will take her revenge for climate change)
This is a book that needs to be written: it asks the right question then seeks the most effective ways of answering it. It's an essential contribution to our thinking about climate change (George Monbiot)
An extremely clear-sighted, highly readable account of the factors fanning the flames of climate change with plenty of practical suggestions how to set about extinguishing them. It left me more determined than ever to keep trying to spread ripples of disruption through the fossil fuel industry until they get the message that things must change and rapidly (Bryony Worthington)
Durwood is a bigwig in global climate/environment policy and the leading light pushing for action on methane, soot and the other fast-acting gases (Durwood Zaelke)
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, it's likely impact and, most importantly of all, the solutions we need to adopt (Mike Barry)
The Burning Question' is 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.
Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark have lit a beacon for the wayward, listing ships of climate thinking ... This is number-crunching and synthesis at their best, richly informed by realities political and psychological as well as scientific. Berners-Lee and Clark are clear-eyed ... and their strategy for action is nuanced and evidence-based. For those who, like me, witnessed the climate stalemate at Copenhagen in 2009, this is a book we have been waiting for (Richard Van Noorden Nature 2013-07-12)
Probably the best synthesis of the key arguments over climate change that I've read.
As well as being an accessible, easy read, the authors have successfully avoided getting side-tracked or bogged down with any of the wonkery that too often surrounds the debate about global warming ... Clark and Berners-Lee have managed to bring a refreshing new clarity to the debate.
Take one complex scientific discipline. Add the future of energy, economics and geopolitics. Season with human nature ...See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The Burning Question is a most thought provoking book and is extremely well written for the general reader and should be compulsory reading for the policy makers of this world. It is a most welcome addition to the literature of global warming which suffers greatly from many books written by extreme sceptics who merely demonstrate their ignorance of the underlying science. I read the very clear ebook version.
We are reminded that the IPCC recommends that a global mean temperature rise since the beginning of the Industrial Age should not be more than 2°C, i.e., an extra 1.2°C above the 0.8°C that has already occurred. The authors deal with the difficulties involved with efforts to restrict fossil fuel emissions to another 565 gigatonnes of CO2 before the `danger' level is achieved. They point out that there is more than enough fossil fuel in the ground to produce sufficient warming. The burning of the known reserves would be more than enough and that would present problems to the producers who would no longer need to do any further exploration.
In part 2 the counterintuitive ways in which the global economy absorbs efficiency improvements are described. This section is particularly important and needs to be spread far and wide. For example, if cars are made more efficient so that more distance can be covered for the same amount of fuel the outcome is not necessarily any saving of fuel and its essential emission of CO2. The tendency would be for people to live further away from their workplace, to live in the countryside in cheaper houses and cause more facilities and schools to be built... IT has not led to energy savings.Read more ›
It begins by outlining the history and current state of carbon dioxide emissions from man's use of fossil fuels. It explains how, despite high certainty in climate science and increased awareness of this, we are still on a 'business as usual' trajectory for fossil fuel use over the coming years. The immense political challenge with changing this is realistically appraised, as are the current role of increased energy efficiency and growth in renewables. It concludes with some thoughts on the role that everyone can play in bringing about meaningful action.
The book succeeds in putting across both the fairly depressing gravity of the problem and of the solution. It also succeeds in inspiring the reader to think about their responsibilities and how action at all levels of society is needed. Throughout it is well referenced and seems a balanced representation of consensus views. I would highly recommended it.
This book starts really strong and pulls together the reasons why there is little talk and even less action to correct the carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
As the book says, it's hard to imagine a less convincing argument than the future of the world will be destroyed by something that we can't see, taste or hear but gradually, second by second, the problem builds.
Then there are the vested interests with the big wallets (the existing carbon industries) who are able to buy political and media power far in excess of the climate change campaigners.
Then add in the fact that we have a natural tendency to avoid talking about bad, scary stuff. It's more comforting to pretend that a problem doesn't exist than to recognise it and face up to making changes needed.
Those changes are mainly negative in the short term, sacrificing the way of life we know and want to carry on.
This makes it hard for any politicians with moral fibre to act in the right way. Until the groundswell public opinion builds to be strongly in favour of acting on the climate change problem, it's hard for our leaders to lead.
The book doesn't mention it but one fundamental issue is that the problem, on the surface sounds trivial. The idea that a temperature increase of just two degrees centigrade must be stopped doesn't sound serious.
As someone who feels the cold badly and is rarely warm enough in Britain, an increase of 2C sounds very modest and without the scary end of the world stuff, I'd vote for a 10C increase. Then we might have proper summers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book presents a very good general review of climate change that covers a lot more than "the burning question". Read morePublished 19 months ago by N. Waby
A great book. It puts environmental issues of the use of Fossil fuels in perspective. Both economic and political arguments well tied to scientific research. Read morePublished on 5 July 2014 by fred
Mike Berners Lee's first book, 'How Bad are Bananas', was an outstanding example of the proper use of facts and reason: it provided the data for the thoughtful reader to understand... Read morePublished on 30 Jun. 2014 by Simon Loveday
An excellent book, well thought through and well argued. A must read for anyone interested in truly understanding the dynamics of addressing climate change, including the idea of... Read morePublished on 21 April 2014 by MR S GILL
Climate change is happening, and fossil fuels are the main cause. This is a well written and informative book, but rather insipid in parts using the usual language like "we must... Read morePublished on 2 April 2014 by paulyb
more half backed ideas on a subject that is proven not to be true! There is no global warming, been proved the case over and over again. Read morePublished on 31 Mar. 2014 by the-truth
Excellent book. Good understanding and explanation of how the energy system, global energy demand growth, and politics are intertwined. Read morePublished on 23 Mar. 2014 by Rasmus Valanko
This is very well written and easy to follow.
The suggested solutions are global, national and local.
We all need to act.
This is a very important book. It is well written, with helpful tables of figures and statistics which are quite clear and easy to understand. Read morePublished on 10 Jan. 2014 by Janet Stuart