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Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy Hardcover – August 20, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Choice, winner, Outstanding Academic Title 2015-

"This is a very important book about a subject of urgent importance. Through descriptions of personal encounters with people who are trying to cope with climate change, as well as those who are producing climate change, veteran journalist Schapiro offers readers a tour through the various sources of carbon dioxide releases and the world of those who are negatively impacted by the costs of carbon emissions. These range from the obvious sources, such as a coal-fired operation for producing electricity, to farmers who are trying to cope with climate change even while they are creating climate change by plowing the soil―which releases stored-up carbon dioxide―or by applying artificial fertilizer, which releases even more destructive gases. Despite the grim prospects, Schapiro manages to convey the importance of taking actions to mitigate climate change without losing readers by inserting only dire warnings. Instead, he produces a very readable book that includes important, but often unfamiliar, scientific information. No other book manages to do what Schapiro has accomplished in terms of its combined traits; by providing both critique and solutions, he offers a readable narrative, useful information, and dire warnings―all without being weighed down by a writer's negativity. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.”



Foreword Reviews-

"The costs of climate change are often talked about in terms of the loss of human life and environmental degradation, but the unprecedented amount of carbon in the atmosphere also has massive implications for the world economy. And when it comes to large companies that pollute and the governments that have the responsibility to regulate them, economic factors like those Mark Schapiro documents in Carbon Shock shouldn’t be overlooked. A journalist with a strong track record on the subject matter, Schapiro takes an in-depth look at this specific aspect of climate change. He does an excellent job of explaining a complicated web of interconnected economic impacts, from the way carbon offsets and credits function to how commodities from food to finance to fuel are already being affected, and how some businesses are trying to limit their risk. (…) Perhaps the strongest part of the book is Schapiro’s thorough coverage of the cap-and-trade approach, as he documents the history of carbon exchanges and clearly lays out the pros and cons of a system where industries buy the right to further pollute, and where the same challenges of any commodities market―from theft to artificial price manipulation―apply. Schapiro explains these economic issues in an accessible way, shows approaches with varying degrees of success, and adds to the evidence that numerous industries will soon have to reckon with how best to pay monetary costs as well as environmental ones.”



Publishers Weekly-

"In this thought-provoking work, journalist Schapiro (Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products) tackles the question: 'What are the costs of climate change?' In search of an answer, he embarks on a multi-year investigation that sends him across the globe. To humanize the issue, Schapiro traces the carbon footprint he leaves through such trips as a flight to Siberia, visits to the biggest commercial nursery west of the Mississippi and to Manchester (England's former textiles center), and a tour of Guangzhou, 'one of the top ten carbon-emitting provinces in a country that is itself the leading emitter.' One of the most affecting chapters recounts how an oil spill from the tanker Prestige along the coast of Galicia in 2002 devastated a nearby town's economy and cost billions in cleanup expenses. Along the way, Schapiro assesses the response from multinational corporations and governments, asserting that they don't sufficiently quantify these costs–or worse, hide them, with the help of compromised auditors. While not a deeply scientific or academic examination, Schapiro‘s tough look at how our current habits of consumption will cost us down the road, combined with his hard-hitting, journalistic style, makes for a dramatic read.”



Library Journal-

"Journalist Schapiro (Exposed) offers a highly readable explanation of the impacts of climate change on everyday life and of public policies that attempt to embed costs associated with carbon emissions into prices, including cap-and-trade and carbon taxes. His argument for such policies is economic rather than moralistic, based on a straightforward application of the economic concept of externalized costs. Where Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth made a strong case for action against climate change, ­Schapiro’s focus is on the practicalities of placing a price on carbon. His account of the vulnerabilities of carbon markets to fraud and manipulation is especially compelling. However, more insight into the factors that determine whether the costs of such policies fall on producers or consumers would have strengthened the book’s final chapter. While Schapiro is writing from a U.S. perspective, his points are drawn from a wide range of global examples of both climate change impacts and environmental policies. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in a nontechnical introduction to the rationale for, and some of the likely consequences of, economic approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”



Kirkus Reviews-

"Environmental journalist Schapiro (Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power, 2007) investigates the costs of our greenhouse-gas binge from new economic angles and new axes of geopolitical power. 'We can no longer rely on past events to predict future probabilities,' writes the author. 'The ground is shifting beneath our feet.' Schapiro explores the many costs of climate change: heat waves, lower rainfall in dry areas, torrential rain in wet areas, floods, refugees, public health impacts as diseases once limited to the tropics move north and south. 'Follow all those many circuits of production, follow the trails of greenhouse gasses rising into the atmosphere, and you will ultimately land upon each of us,' he writes, 'making our choices about what we consume and from where.' This is not breaking new ground, but Schapiro is particularly sharp in pointing to the elephant in the room, and not just because it is producing a great deal of methane. The costs of climate change are borne by the commons in the form of such practices as federally guaranteed insurance coverage, but most egregiously, the 'emitters of greenhouses gases get a free ride [in the U.S.]....This is known as asymmetric risk, a fine term of the financial arts that means that the public bears the risks while fossil fuels users earn the profits.' Schapiro covers a good number of projects to cut down on emissions (such as buying forests to sequester carbon dioxide, then selling that use to polluters), though we will all have to pay for pulling in the greenhouse reins, especially through the use of taxes as punitive disincentives to fossil fuel abuse and as a way to fund research into alternative energy sources. In this finely tuned study, Schapiro has some good news: Even the most fitful international negotiations admit that greenhouse gases come with a cost that must be paid.



"Can keepers of the fossil flames ever be persuaded that we’re all imperiled if we don’t de-carbonize? Is it delusional to imagine building monetary bridges to a cleaner future, so that civilization – at least the civil parts of it, including everyone’s job – might survive if we did? Is any government actually still in charge, as we face what’s surely humanity’s greatest challenge? We can be grateful that Mark Schapiro has navigated some dreaded territory – the arcana of global finance – to show with blessed clarity exactly where we are so far, what’s failed and why, what might work, and where surprising hope lies."--Alan Weisman, author of Gaviotas, The World Without Us, and Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? 



“With his skill as a writer and long experience as an investigative reporter, Mark Schapiro brings alive some unexpected angles of the most important story of our time. I thought I knew the basics of carbon and climate change, but reading this lively and intriguing book made me aware of much I didn’t know―both fascinating and disturbing.”--Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars



"In his powerful new book Carbon Shock, Mark Schapiro transcends standard discussions about the well-known culprits and ramifications of climate change and takes us on a harrowing, international exploration of the universal economic costs of carbon emissions. In his path-breaking treatise, Schapiro exposes the multinational corporate obfuscation of these costs; the folly of localized pseudo-solutions that spur Wall Street trading but don’t quantify financial costs or public risks, solve core problems, or provide socially cheaper and environmentally sounder practices; and the laggard policies of the US, Russia and China relative to the EU in fashioning longer-term remedies. Not only does Schapiro compel the case for a global effort to thwart the joint economic and environmental plundering of our planet in this formidable book, but he expertly outlines the way to get there."--Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers and It Takes a Pillage

About the Author

Mark Schapiro is an award-winning investigative journalist who explores the intersection between the environment, economics, and international political power. His writing appears in Harper’s, The Atlantic, Yale Environment 360, The Nation, and other publications. His most recent book, The End of Stationarity, reports from environmental tension zones around the world where the costs of climate change are being experienced and fought over. His previous book was Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power. He is an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He was formerly senior correspondent at The Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (August 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603585575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603585576
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
“The ground is shifting beneath our feet," declares author Mark Shapiro in his book, Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of a Disrupted Global Economy. Shapiro cuts no corners and tells no jokes with his opening lines. He is a man on a mission, a man meant to shock us all, as his title not so subtly declares. He shows the reader exactly how much our carbon emissions weigh in dollar signs, and wow, it is a terrifying answer. As carbon emissions grow, every industry has to figure out a new way of behaving, and Shapiro's aim is to show us who is going to foot the bill for these new regulations. Spoiler: the answer isn't pretty. In the introduction, Shapiro very clearly outlines his thesis: “The two key premises on which this book based are that the costs of climate change are occurring now, not in some distant and abstract time in the future, and that identifying the actual costs and consequences of fossil fuels will give us a far more financially honest way to face our premier economic challenge." Carbon Shock reads like a detective novel, filled with a suspense that is held and even built throughout.

Shapiro takes the time to look at the big players and display their accountability, or lack thereof. And by big players, I am not just referring to companies, but countries, even continents. No one is spared, as Shapiro turns a sharp and critical eye to the actions of all. If you are expecting a pedantic and slow read, you should be prepared for a surprise. Shapiro, with a deft hand, weaves facts together in such a way that holds your attention completely for you are almost afraid to miss something.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading this book, I can only come to one conclusion. We will never find a solution to the greenhouse solution. And please don't think I am an pessimist by any chance. Read this book. Where do I start, When the EU wanted to impose tariff for green house emissions from aircrafts, our pro-climate change president Mr Obama lobbied together with China and India to shut it down. The Department of Agriculture cannot do much to stop companies like Monsanto who are also responsible for the problem. How companies are buying carbon offsets in underdeveloped countries to compensate for their emissions. Also the failure of UN to validate that some of these offsets are actually even reducing the emissions. Another ironical example of how the carbon allowances market is abused by companies. There is no end to it. This is such a complex problem that expecting we can solve it at a global level is impossible. Every person, every city, every county, every state and every country should do the right thing to curb this independent of what others are doing and we can take baby steps to contain this issue of green house gases emission.
Bottomline, ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY AND POWER.
If I were to give up being hopeful and see what we have done so far at a global level to combat climate change and how companies have found ways to avoid it or profit from it, I don't think we can solve this problem. Sad but true!
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Format: Hardcover
I never thought I'd read ANOTHER book in any way related to climate. There are so many of them out there, they are so depressing and so redundant. But I knew that Mark Schapiro would break the mold, so I picked up and read Carbon Shock. I can't say it cheered me up, but it certainly informed me about aspects of carbon I had never considered. And it was not a repeat of anything I'd read. It is fresh, original, well argued and, as it should be (and it's title implies) it is shocking.
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Format: Hardcover
Carbon Shock Book Review

The Greenhouse Gamut

In a world where people intensely burn coal, fly thousands of planes across thousands of miles daily, and drive more and more cars on highways of shockingly excessive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, the future of the environment and the human race are anything but certain. In the compelling and eye-opening novel Carbon Shock, author Mark Schapiro goes into incredible detail in an unceasingly direct, in-your-face style. What's perhaps even more unsettling than the overwhelming amounts of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions is the fact that humans have absolutely no historical data off of to try to solve this global catastrophe because it spawned rather recently. Schapiro's words say it all as they read hauntingly off the page – “We can no longer rely on past events to predict future probabilities [when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions]. The ground is shifting beneath our feet” (Schapiro, ix).

Schapiro begins his explanation of the intemperate greenhouse gas emissions quite simply, relating the nearly century-and-a-half-old worldwide phenomenon to his quaint plane ride from San Francisco to Siberia. “One of the tricky things about airplanes is that their pollution comes from everywhere and nowhere. Planes in the air make no distinction about national borders” (Schapiro, 3). Schapiro goes on to explain how his plane and thousands of others relate to a heated debate happening between all of Europe and the United States on whether to make people accountable for emissions they create or not – that is, to make people pay in some way for the harm to the environment they have caused, regardless of whether it was direct and/or intentional or passive and/or unintentional.
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