Maybe it’s just me but I think that one of the most difficult things about being a climate activist isn’t remembering to put out the recyclables for collection on a Wednesday but rather getting to grips with climate science. Maths and science were never my strong points at school and the most basic of climate science seems to be explained by boffins who way over-estimate my knowledge/abilities to be actually useful. So when I heard there was a ‘No-Nonsense Guide’ to climate change which included climate science I was pretty eager to get my hands on a copy. Thankfully I was not disappointed as the handy pocket-sized guide was easy to read and follow, and didn’t skimp on depth and detail either.
The tiny 200-page book in broken down into three sections which consist of a couple of chapters: the science, the solutions and the way forward. This makes it easy to follow and although you could dip in and out and use the chapter you want, I highly recommend you follow the set out structure on your first read at least.
It’s well written with clear language, useful examples and lots of metaphors (it can’t be coincidence that the writer- Danny Chivers- is also a poet) which makes everything doubly clear and easy to understand. It feels like every unnecessary word was cut out and the language kept refreshingly jargon-free, personal and engaging.
Despite the fact that the writer has a BSc in Environmental Biology, the chapter on climate science is really easy to understand and perfect for a first-timer wanting more than the very basics. The chapter goes through the properties of carbon, the Keeling Curve, evidence for the historical rise in C02 emissions as well as the rise in weather-related disasters. All this is done with help of lots of little graphs and diagrams which make it all very manageable. This section also quickly explores how bad things could get if we allow runaway climate change in terms of health, wildlife as well as the dangers of positive feedback loops which means that global warming will accelerate at a speed we can’t control.
There is also a little chapter on how to spot and deal with climate deniers which comes in handy for dealing with those internet trolls! Despite all the depressing data, Chivers also reminds us to be upbeat because the fact that humanity is causing climate change means that we can also change it. This brings us onto the second section- the solutions- which explores the countries which have most contributed to climate change not just now but also historically. As such, the writer focuses on climate justice and the need for developed countries to do more to stop climate change and also assist developing nations transition into low carbon economies.
This section is also littered with information boxes which deal with important issues such as population control, geo-engineering and technofixes, nuclear power, carbon capture, and biofuels. These make great reads (if a little distracting!) and although they are only small they do manage to delve into the complexities of the topic and how they influence the climate change agenda.
The final section- the way forward- firstly looks at the political history of climate change and the rise of the issue from early scientific discoveries in the 1800’s to the major concern it is today. Chivers goes on to ask why so little has been done considering the planetary importance of the issue. The final two chapters of the book lay out important changes that we all need to be asking for and also changes we can make to our personal lives to help the world avoid the worst affects of climate change. A worthwhile and engaging read which is particularly strong in laying out the science and yet staying positive- I will be lending it to my family and friends!
::A No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change:The Science, The Solutions, The Way Forward by Danny Chivers. Published by New Internationalist
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