While governments debate and scientists test ever-more complicated hypotheses, ordinary people all over the world are starting to notice the effects of global warming. In High Tide
, British journalist Mark Lynas visits global hot spots to record people's reactions and sound a clarion call for action. Readers looking for a "we are the world" approach to climate change may be taken aback by Lynas' flat expression of the uncomfortable truth: "Every time America votes, the world holds its breath.... Climate change begins and ends in America." Lynas damns the George W. Bush administration for undermining global efforts such as the Kyoto Protocol as well as actively preventing innovation within the United States that would reduce auto and industrial emissions. But High Tide
isn't the firs or the best book to do that; instead, its narrative strength is in the riveting stories of how small towns, islands, riverside cities, and rural areas are being slowly destroyed. Gardeners in England will be unable to grow heritage plant species within the next 75 years. The Alaskan permafrost is melting, as temperatures there increase "ten times faster than in the rest of the world." An entire Pacific Island nation--Tuvalu--will soon disappear beneath the rising sea, leaving its people homeless. Lynas visits Alaska, Tuvalu, Peru, China, and the east coast of the United States, documenting the lives, places, and cultures that will be lost in the decades to come. Thankfully, just when hopelessness threatens to overwhelm the reader, High Tide
offers a five-step plan to mitigate the most catastrophic effects of global climate change. Every step in the plan involves action by United States citizens and their elected representatives, offering American activists and visionaries a chance to do penance for wrecking parts of the world far from our own driveways. --Therese Littleton
From Publishers Weekly
Deeply disturbed by unprecedented rain and catastrophic flooding in his native England, journalist Lynas set out on a three-year journey to bear witness to global climate change. Traveling to Alaska to see vanishing tundra, to the growing deserts of Inner Mongolia, to a tiny Pacific island nation facing devastation from rising ocean levels and finally to disappearing glaciers in Peru, Lynas vividly describes the physical and human toll our fossil fuelâ"based culture takes on the planet. Not a scientist himself, Lynas bolsters his case with abundant footnoted scientific references. This is both personal journey and fierce polemic. Much of his political argument and ire is directed squarely at the U.S. In Lynas's view, the U.S., through its domestic and foreign policy, has undermined the valiant efforts of a coalition of developed and developing countries to control and even reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. From the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which the first Bush administration threatened to boycott had there been any agreement that included mandatory restrictions, through what he sees as the Clinton policy of "green" lip service, to the second Bush administration's 2001 unilateral withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, Lynas portrays a government in league with carbon-producing and -consuming industrialists bent on promoting a vision "that what is good for oil corporations is good for Americaâ"and, by extensionâ"the world." In prose that is deeply felt and poignant, if sometimes awkward, Lynas makes no concession to evenhandedness in his assessment of the status quo. With a closing section including a six-point manifesto for addressing the global warming crisis and a comprehensive appendix listing information sources, advocacy groups and Web sites, this could well serve as a primer for budding antiâ"global-warming activists. 6 pages of illus., maps not seen by PW
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