Here is an incomplete list of the sustainable energy and climate change books I read in 2009 (actually, a few also scraped in from late 2008). I’ve provided a 2 — 3 sentence summary of each book (from my perspective) and a Rating out of 5. Some books have been reviewed in more detail on BNC already — enter from the title of the book in this website’s search box to find the review.
James Lovelock. The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning. Basic Books, 2009, 288 p. — Lovelock is a wise old man who’s seen it all, and he pulls no punches here. His ruthless pragmatism on nuclear energy and climate adaptation was what I most enjoyed about this book. Chapter 4, “Energy and Food Sources” is a wonderful summary of the energy problem and the rest of the book explores the many uncertainties in climate science, and why they’re generally pretty bad news. We’re not in for a smooth ride this century. Rating: 4
James Hansen. Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance To Save Humanity. Bloomsbury, 2009, 320 p. — For a scientist, Hansen has an exceptional knack at writing for a general audience. In exploring the climate’s sensitivity to human forces, he draws on three principle lines of evidence — Earth history, modern observational data, and models/physics (the latter as integrators and predictors, the first line of evidence he considers to be the most compelling). In Hansen’s exploration of solutions, he (rightly) derides cap-and-trade shell games and points towards a technological solution with a clear timetable for closing out coal by 2030. Rating: 4.5
David Archer. The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate. Princeton UP, 2009, 180 p. — Excellent summary of the study of palaeoclimates and why this field of science points to long residence times of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with the implication that we are truly committing to change that will last ‘forever’ (hundreds of millennia). The right way to write popular science. Rating: 4
A. Barrie Pittock. Climate Change: The Science, Impacts and Solutions. CSIRO Publishing, 2009, 350 p. — Thorough, up-to-date review of climate science from a well-know Australian scientist. It examines whether things are worse now than we anticipated 5 to 10 years ago (answer = yes), and considers adaptation and mitigation solutions, with a focus on Australia. Barrie doesn’t think much about nuclear power; his dream is solar. Hmmm. Rating: 3.5