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Carbon War: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415931021
ISBN-10: 0415931029
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While explaining the science behind global warming in a manner easily accessible to the nonspecialist, Leggett originally a petroleum geologist, then a Greenpeace director and now a solar energy entrepreneur takes us on a whirlwind eight-year personal journey through the world's climate negotiations. From the first major meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990 through the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to the historic Kyoto Climate Summit in 1997, Leggett provides an insider's perspective on the negotiations and many of the key players. As compelling as a good thriller, the book deftly describes the machinations of what Leggett calls "the carbon club" or "the foot soldiers for the fossil-fuel industries." Working behind the scenes, these lobbyists have been successful in stalling and diluting every agreement reached to date. All the while, as Leggett explains, the world warms and climatic disasters increase. Most readers will find it impossible to doubt the reality of global warming and its likely consequences after reading Leggett's account of the past decade. The book's only fault is that since its warmly received publication two years ago in Great Britain, nothing more than a short epilogue written in February 2000 has been added to update readers.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-As a young geologist and as a professor at the Royal School of Mines in England, the author found the hunt for petroleum deposits "a great romance." But, like many scientists in the 1980s, he became convinced by growing evidence that global warming posed a serious danger. Conscience-stricken at the part he had played in bringing about this situation, he moved "from one of the most conservative universities in the world to one of the most radical environmental groups," and began a new career as scientific advisor to Greenpeace. Participating in history-making conferences such as those in Rio and Tokyo, he witnessed the key events and international politics at the end of the 20th century. In vivid detail, his account reveals the people and politics of what he calls the "Carbon Club"-the coalition of industrial and regional interests that sought to confuse the issue and, through various manipulations, derailed an effective movement to address the problem. He argues that only a rapid conversion to solar power can change the dangerous course energy production is following now, but is encouraged by recent signs of a growing understanding of the problem, and by developing cracks in the cohesiveness of the Carbon Club itself. For most teens, this clearly written, fact-packed, and passionate book will be a demanding read, but it offers a wealth of information for those interested in understanding the workings of the real world, and its thorough index will make it an excellent resource for research on global warming and the history of the issue.

Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (March 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415931029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415931021
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,760,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book which gives a very clear and readable outline of how global negotiations on climate change have been carried through over a decade and how they have been influenced behind the scenes by powerful lobby groups which had a vested interest in inaction. The author describes how a few of these groups later decided to shift away from their earlier position, a move which had a tremendous impact on the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, enabling it to move forward.
The book has something in it for everyone. Despite the very complex topic and the breadth of information it contains, which can cater as well for specialists as for the layman, it reads like a novel. Leggett has successfully managed in the unlikely task to cover in one book: the evolving scientific findings on climate change; international politics and historical events which had an impact on negotiations; the growing role of non-governmental organisations; weather events and other environmental impacts of climate change in the past decade, and, crucially, the business and industry perspective, with its changing moods. In the background, Leggett also provides the reader with some information on his personal life choices and beliefs, which emanate a certain degree of optimism. This crucially turns the book into a motivating, albeit realistic, read.
This book should be read not only by those who have an interest in climate change. Anyone currently working in the energy sector, for example, could benefit from knowing more about how the industry has influenced climate change negotiations. In addition, the decision by George W. Bush to walk out of the Kyoto Protocol after his election will seem hardly surprising after reading this book, which can also help to put into perspective the current debate in the US on energy and climate policy.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Boris Bangemann on February 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Leggett's "The Carbon War" is the story of how the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 came about, and how companies in the business of thermal fuel (coal, oil, gas) - Leggett calls them the "Carbon Club" - tried to derail the process of setting enforceable goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. It is also the story of how self-interest, not surprisingly, overrides the general interest; how the United States, home to some of the largest oil and gas multinationals and the world's premier carbon dioxide emitting nation, sided with the Carbon Club; how Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, joined forces with the United States.

The Kyoto Protocol will come into force on 16 February 2005. It has been ratified by more than 55 of its signatory countries. The United States, led by George W. Bush, however, walked out on the agreement in March 2001.

The fact of global warming is hardly disputable. The five hottest years recorded since 1880 were 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2001, with 1998 having been the hottest. Whether the warming effect is man-made is still subject to discussion. But a full three quarters of scientists working in the field of climate change make the burning of fossil fuels responsible for the recorded increase in temperature.

The emission of carbon dioxide could be easily reduced if power could be economically generated by photovoltaic solar energy (PV). However, Adam Smith's invisible hand won't do the job in this particular case. It is a Catch-22 situation because PV will only be economically viable if the PV cells are mass-produced, but they are not mass-produced because people can't afford today's expensive PV products.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Peter L North on March 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Leggett has written an outstanding book. A one time petroleum geologist teaching at the London School of Mines, in the 1980s Dr Leggett became concerned about climate change from carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere. He gave up a comfortable career to become a lobbyist for the environmental movement. In this role he has met all the main characters opposing and supporting greenhouse gas treaties. He describes not only the science, the politics, and the economics of the global warming issue, but also the personalities in "the Carbon War." between the fossil fuel industry on one hand and the environmental lobby on the other. The insights into both sides of this protracted war are fascinating - as are the various dirty tricks campaigns employed by the fossil fuel brigade. Dr Leggett writes not from the detachment of a scientist, but with the passion of someone with a vital message to sell and a vital cause to push. As premier science writer John Gribbin said on the book's front cover "the best book yet about the politics of global warming."
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
I heard an interview w/ Jeremy Leggett on the radio...and decided to buy "The Carbon War" because he was so poised, intelligent, and straight forward--the guy knew his stuff. When the book arrived, I didn't realize it was as long as it is (332 pages)...but once I got started I couldn't put it down. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the politics of global will be blown away! Leggett recounts the decade long international debate over global warming and climate change, and reveals the major players and their motives.
His discussion includes his own reflections as an ex-oil industry geologist, genuine humor, easy-to-grasp scientific descriptions of the global warming crisis, and a history of the international debate over climate change from its inception. This book is a MUST for anyone who lives on planet Earth.
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