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The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell You About Global Warming Hardcover – September 28, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pielke (The Honest Broker) presents a smart and hard-nosed analysis of the politics and science of climate change and proposes a commonsense approach to climate policy. According to Pielke, the iron law of climate policy dictates that whenever environmental and economic objectives are placed in opposition to each other, economics always wins. Climate policies must be made compatible with economic growth as a precondition for their success, he writes, and because the world will need more energy in the future, an oblique approach supporting causes, such as developing affordable alternative energy sources rather than consequences, such as controversial schemes like cap-and-trade, is more likely to succeed. Although some may protest on principle the suggestion that we accept the inevitability of energy growth, Pielke's focus on adaptation to climate change refreshingly sidesteps the unending debate over the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and opens up the possibility for effective action that places human dignity and democratic ideals at the center of climate policies.
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From Booklist

Pielke’s area of expertise is the crossroads where environmental studies and politics meet, and clearly he is very frustrated by how the hard cold facts of science have become subservient to the whims of political fortune. In carefully crafted chapters that rely heavily on widely acknowledged truths, he examines everything from carbon dioxide emissions to the recent climategate controversy. Pielke excels in pointing out the minutiae the climate discussion finds itself repeatedly bogged down in, compared to the larger issues of global warming, regardless of the cause, which are irrefutable. From Kyoto to Copenhagen, Gore to George W. Bush to Obama, he addresses the changing political winds, the myths used to justify weak political will, and the irrevocable relationship between environmental policy and the economy. For navigating a treacherous field with grace and aplomb, Pielke deserves much praise. Whether readers will feel reassured or not after reading his measured words and patient call for a broad-based climate policy will depend on future political response. Copious endnotes and sourcing material included. --Colleen Mondor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465020526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465020522
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,290,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. T. Myers on September 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
(This reviews the pre-release version.)

After a tumultuous year in climate policy - from Climategate to the failure of the Copenhagen talks and the probable death of cap-and-trade - Pielke's book offers the most thoughtful approach to climate policy, taking honest stock of both the current state of science and politics. It is excellent for those who are familiar with the debate as well as those new to the issue.
Pielke is one of the few experts willing to critique those he agrees with, and he spends a fair amount of time highlighting the politicization of climate science by both sides. While arguing that climate change presents real risks, he is effective at noting the unscientific excesses of advocates of aggressive climate policy. Several anecdotes tell the story of how noted scientists used their credentials to make claims they admit are unscientific. These exaggerations, Pielke argues, have increased public skepticism about the science, making it more difficult to come to policy agreement.
The book does an excellent job explaining the basics of climate science, offering some good guidelines for what is known and where the scientific uncertainty lies. It is one of the few books I've read recently that offers both clear explanations and the complexity involved in understanding climate science. Most effective is the way he uses this solid scientific foundation to characterize the size and nature of the challenge of reducing carbon emissions. Perhaps the best insight, however, is that while many who debate climate policy focus on debating the details of climate science, Pielke argues an effective policy approach can be found even without certainty regarding the exact nature of the risks from climate change.
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Pielke is a expert on science policy from the University of Colorado. He runs a popular and often controversial blog. He should not be confused with his father, with the same name, who is an important climate scientist.

Pielke's style is soft spoken but he is not afraid to make strong judgements. He proposes an "iron law of climate policy" that basically says that no climate policies that cause substantial, immediate economic pain will ever be implemented. If you accept his iron law (and I do) then it is clear that all the CO2 control efforts that are supposed to be implemented via cap and trade or other unpleasant government mandates or taxes will never see the light of day. Yet Pielke believes that CO2 control is important and he proposes solutions that don't violate his iron law.

The book is filled with well-presented useful information. His discussion of climategate, the publication of numerous private emails exchanged between important climate scientists, is the best I've ever seen.

Pielke's strength is illuminating politicized debates with facts and logical analysis. Obviously climate or global warming is one of those. Because he grew up in the important climate science community centered in Colorado and started his career in science, he knows many of the important players personally.
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This book is primarily for policy wonks and not so much for the general public. Pielke, Jr. is a well known political science professor and blogger who often blogs on climate change issues. His father, Roger Pielke, Sr., is a renowned climate scientist, so while Pielke, Jr. is not a climate scientist per se, he does bring considerable insight garnered from years of interaction with his father and his own career that includes working as a student assistant at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and elsewhere.

The title is, not surprisingly, a bit of a misnomer as the book doesn't actually offer a "fix" to man-made climate change. If it were that easy there would be no need for his book. The publisher's subtitle "What scientists and politicians won't tell you about global warming" is unfortunate, because it attempts to create a controversy where there really is none. Beyond that, the book generally is well-written and focuses in on the real problem - what policy options do we have to deal with climate change. This point in itself is important as Pielke, Jr. acknowledges up front the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activity is the primary reason, and that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are major factors in the warming of the planet. That scientific point put aside, he focuses the majority of the book on policy.

The author spends a lot of time talking about decarbonization policies around the world, what has worked and what has not worked, and his views as to why. Pielke discusses the concept of an "iron law of climate policy," which essentially acknowledges that any policy that might be construed to cause short-term adverse economic impact cannot be implemented.
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Why has it taken so long for a well-informed scientist to cut through the rantings of partisans to bring us such a clear formulation on climate? Perhaps because that task requires that that scientist also be both a good writer for a lay readership and a fair arbiter of competing claims. Dr. Roger Pielke is both. He is a professor in the environmental studies program at the University of Colorado. Teaching is second nature for him and it comes through in every chapter.

Here is a parable which should make even committed climate alarmists reconsider their verities. “Imagine that nations around the world were to decide that they want to increase human life spans. They might start their work by deciding on a goal…One way to reach it would be to put an economic price on death: countries would be responsible for paying some amount when someone dies. There could be a…cap on the number of allowable deaths in each country, with a decreasing number of permits issued each year. If a country experiences more deaths than they have permits for, then they will have to buy permits from other countries that are experiencing a lower death rate, and thus have surplus permits. Advocates for this approach would claim that the cap would stimulate innovation in medical research and prompt behavioral changes that lead to longer life expectancies. The permit market would mean that the market would decide efficiently how resources are best allocated..the legal cap would provide certainty in achieving the targeted extension of life expectancies.”

Dr. Pielke would understand if you laugh at his parable, and will say, “It is no more of a joke than efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide employing the same type of policy.” There’s a lot more like this in The Climate Fix.
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