It seems almost extravagant to publish yet another book on climate change. This one, however, bears the benefit of being almost extravagantly comprehensive. Henson has assembled a wealth of data, presenting it in a superbly organised and accessible account. Although the term "Rough Guide" might imply a superficial approach to the topic, this book is anything but that. In slightly over three hundred pages, the author covers the current conditions, the history leading up to those and what processes are in place to influence climate. He also deals with how the sciences investigating climate change work, and why we should pay attention to them.
His analysis of policies addressing climate change, in particular his descripton of the Kyoto Protocols, is unsurpassed. He even includes how the arts, well and poorly, have adopted climate themes into their productions. Although he recognises the failings of such films as "The Day After Tomorrow", he accepts their role in raising public consciousness. This enlarged awareness has been manifested in a website ClimatePrediction.net which uses idle computers to assess data used in modelling climate change. Henson's explanation of computer modelling is on a par with the rest of his presentation; clear and informative.
The author repeatedly stresses that while climate change is a global phenomenon, it is individuals who will make a difference in its onset and impact. Accordingly, his suggested solutions will bear close scrutiny. As well as Kyoto's broad view, Henson examines the alternatives or enhancements for their likely effectiveness. The recent initiative by The Asia-Pacific Partnership, based on voluntary controls and shared technologies, is covered, as is the Contraction and Convergence model. Most importantly, the author's coverage of personal changes in energy consumption and pollution reduction is very helpful. He makes clear that none of the steps requires drastic change in lifestyle nor the outlay of substantial funds. To this end he closes with a list of useful resources of information on all aspects of the topic. If there is a shortcoming in this book, it is the process used to save paper and money. The reduced size of the volume means packing all that information into a small space. The typeface is miniscule and the reading can be excruciating. Energy-saving lightbulbs in your house may lead to impaired vision from sifting through so much information. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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