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Posted April 12, 2010
Climate change and its cause, global warming, are concepts that are far less controversial today than they were a mere five years ago. Yet, both still generate heated debates online and off the Net and not only among ignorant laymen: scientists and politicians butt heads and shower insults on their opponents when it come to this most contentious of latter day apocalypses.
I have written extensively and have read widely on these topics, but have yet to find a more balanced and roundedly-informed tome than The Britannica Guide to Climate Change. In 440 friendly pages, densely packed with state-of-the-art data and research, the Britannica team have covered every conceivable aspect of this all-pervasive phenomenon, bringing to the fore the most current knowledge; the most recent studies; the most erudite interlocutors; and the hardest of facts.
The Guide starts with an edifying vade mecum: an introduction by the eminent scientist, Robert M. May. While clearly on the side of environmentalists, he is no starry-eyed tree hugger but a hard-nosed scientist, worried sick about our abuse of our only planet, Earth. This is followed by concise but comprehensive chapters dedicated to climate, climate change, and weather forecasting; the changing planet (land, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and the decline in biodiversity); and an overview of ideas and arguments about the environment, replete with a synoptic sweep of history and prominent thinkers. Finally, the book charts our (relative) progress and what more needs to be done, including an overview of all available alternative energy technologies.
The book is refreshing in its objectivity and candor. It refrains from taking sides or from preaching. This does not mean that it is a soulless inventory of data: on the contrary, it is yet another passionate plea to save our planet and our future. But it addresses our brains rather than our hearts and this makes for a welcome departure from contemporary practices.
I found myself compelled to lavish praise on this great book despite the fact that I wholly disagree with its spirit and thrust. Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"