High Tide Paperback – 1 Jun 2004
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"This could well serve as a primer for budding anti-global-warming activists" --Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Mark Lynas is a journalist, campaigner and broadcast commentator on environmental issues. He is a contributor to the New Statesman, Ecologist, Granta and Geographical magazines, and the Guardian and Observer in the UK. He lives in Oxford, England.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Once you have become thoroughly depressed by reading the state of the world in "High Tide", by all means obtain a copy of "Earth: The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming" by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn. That book gives an outlook on all of the alternative means of producing energy that have a zero or low carbon footprint. Good Reading.
But Lynas, like many environmental activists, falls flat on his solutions. For example, he says that because burning any more oil will worsen warming, "there should be a worldwide halt to the exploration and development of new oil, coal and gas reserves, because even existing reserves should never be burned as fuel." In his fear of warming, Lynas doesn't consider the immediate human suffering that such a rash course would create. It seems like he doesn't know--or doesn't care--how much our society relies on oil, not only for 90% of our transportation but for much of our food, pharmaecuticals, and other life-critical applications. For civilization to continue, we need a gradual, orderly draw-down from fossil fuels, not a crashing halt.
It might comfort Lynas to know that we'll have to get off oil anyway even without global warming, because cheap oil is fast running out. Those remaining reserves will be so much more difficult and expensive to pump than our oil today that we'll never even have a chance to use them up. And just as supply peaks, there's rising demand from China and India. $10 a gallon gas will get us off oil more quickly than fear of warming. But then our society will face other problems--including potential political collapse--that will make it all the more difficult to deal with warming. For more realistic talk on energy, I'd look to books on "peak oil" such as James Howard Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" or Richard Heinberg's "Power Down."
Lynas is just as naive in his approach to politics, assuming that if people--especially Americans, who emit most greenhouse gases--learn the facts, they'll all start thinking and acting like greenies. Yet we all know that the biggest barrier to stopping global warming is not lack of scientific knowlege or even popular awareness, but economic and political short-sightedness. The rich don't want to change their ways, and they'll use power, influence, and corruption to preserve their wealth, warming be damned. For a more nuanced look, try the Ehrlichs' "One with Nineveh." They talk about changes in government and business that will have to happen to save the earth, showing a much more complete understanding of the human-nature equation than does Lynas, who sees retreating glaciers more clearly than he sees expanding markets.
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