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66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the unmanageable, manage the unavoidable
Hertsgaard's book distinguishes "mitigation" (reducing the amount of global warming, mostly by reducing carbon emissions) and "adaptation" (taking measures to deal with the climate change that's going to occur anyhow). The terminology is perhaps confusing (even to some of the reviewers here), since "mitigation" sounds like it refers to the latter. In any event, the book...
Published on December 11, 2010 by Phelps Gates

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32 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ho Hum
Mark Hertsgaard spent over 20 years traveling the world as a reporter. He has seen with his own eyes people living in abject poverty. He has published many articles about global warming and climate change. When he had a daughter, he says global warming really hit home with him. What will life be like for his daughter? He worries that her generation will have to...
Published on December 6, 2010 by Hummingbirder


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66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the unmanageable, manage the unavoidable, December 11, 2010
By 
Phelps Gates (Chapel Hill, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
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Hertsgaard's book distinguishes "mitigation" (reducing the amount of global warming, mostly by reducing carbon emissions) and "adaptation" (taking measures to deal with the climate change that's going to occur anyhow). The terminology is perhaps confusing (even to some of the reviewers here), since "mitigation" sounds like it refers to the latter. In any event, the book deals mostly with adaptation, since even in the best-case scenario it's now too late to prevent serious climate change effects: only the last chapter is concerned with the criminal neglect that's taken place over the last twenty years, and which seems to be continuing at Cancun now as I write this.

The author has done prodigious research into the topic, and presents it in a readable and convincing way, but perhaps the most important aspect of the book is the account of his travels in person to various areas. He gets a first-hand look at what the threats are, and what's being done (and not being done) in places such as Louisiana and Shanghai (doomed), the Bay Area and New York City (serious troubles ahead), Chicago, London, and the Seattle area (threatened but likely to pull through), and, ironically, the Netherlands, which seems to be in the best shape, thanks to serious planning efforts.

Climate change is taking place faster than expected and it's presenting much more serious problems. I hate to say this, but I feel some relief at the fact that I'm seventy years old with no children.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What does the future hold?, January 26, 2011
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This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
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Mark Hertsgaard is very worried about the world his daughter is going to inherit. And he should be worried.

This book is about global warming. I personally do not know if we are going to be ok in the long run, I can only base my decisions on what I see. And what I see tells me that things are going to get worse over the next few decades.

My brother is a hard-core anti global warming type of person. Whenever we get together he goes on his rant about how "global warming is a scam perpetrated by Al Gore." It would almost be funny if he was the only person that thinks that, but he is clearly not alone. Denying the danger will only make things worse.

I have read that the 10 hottest years globally have all occurred since 1998. Obviously that only takes into account the last few hundred years since man started recording temperature, but the outlook is not a happy one. I do not believe man caused this all by himself. I believe we are in a naturally occurring warming cycle, but due to pollution, deforestation, etc, man is making this condition worse. So believe what you want about global warming, the fact is things are getting hotter around here.

The author has many years of experience visiting and talking to people all over the world. He has documented what he sees and his prediction is that things are getting worse. He says there are many things we can do to prepare for the coming changes. So, do I believe a person that has documented and traveled the world, or do I believe my brother, who has only talked to his neighbors in New Jersey?

The author talks about simple things each of us can do. Light colored roofs do not absorb as much heat. If everyone did this the change could be significant. Should you paint your roof white? Probably not, especially if you live across the street from me. But if you have a flat roof, paint it. If you own a business with a flat roof, paint it. If you need to reshingle your roof, go with a much lighter color. How about the simple things like not wasting electricity? Install more energy efficient light bulbs. Simple change, but multiplied by the billions of people on earth and this could be a huge help. What about saving water? Now I am a little biased on this point. I spent years on a nuclear submarine and wasting water is almost as bad as stealing from your shipmates. I am brutal when it comes to saving water. We do three minute showers at my house. I installed water shutoffs on the showerheads so you can stop the flow of water while you lather up. I refuse to water my lawn. If God does not water it with rain, it turns brown. I do not fertilize it with chemicals because they run off and pollute streams. I have also cut out a little more lawn each year and planted more drought resistant plants. Will that save the world? Not by my actions alone, but what if we all did it? It would add up quickly.

One comment the author made is directed at people that live close to sea level, or directly in a waterfront home. He said to sell the property before the water levels rise too far and while there are still buyers. Now it is correct that this will not solve anything because the new homeowner will have to deal with the problem, but the point is it will not be you dealing with it. Prepare now. I don't mean you need to hoard food in your basement, but do something. Do at least one thing every single day. Even shutting off a light when you leave the room is something. And who knows, maybe my brother will buy your oceanfront house. He doesn't believe any of this stuff anyway.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important, sober, yet hopeful must-read book, December 11, 2010
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This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
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Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard is a thoughtful, pragmatic exploration of climate change impacts and what we can (and are) doing about them. Far from a dry, distant-seeming treatise, Hertsgaard's book has a real heart; he asks us to visualize along with him how his young daughter (and all of our children) will survive the myriad changes that are already locked-in and unstoppable. The challenge, Hertsgaard tells us, is to "avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable."

As the author points out, even among those who are not in denial about climate change, there is still confusion about the difference between mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is what we do to try to prevent man-made global warming from proceeding apace. Adaptation is what we do to live with the consequences: the climate change that, in complex and interconnected ways, already is threatening our very ability to survive. Both approaches are critically important.

Hertsgaard devotes much of this book to presenting problems already being caused by climate change and showing how communities, businesses, and governments are responding. Unlike in the U.S., where climate change is still cast in an if-then light or denied outright by corporatist politicians, much of the world is now facing up to the dire facts. Some mitigation and adaptation efforts are doing more harm than good, but some (such as pro-business green development in Seattle, farmer-designed natural regeneration/agro-forestry [FMNR] in Africa, and far-sighted 200-year flood planning in the Netherlands) show much promise.

I found it hopeful that the huge global insurance industry already knows what is coming and is making decisions accordingly. This sometimes means refusing to insure people living in areas prone to major climate-driven devastation, but the actions of the insurance industry can be looked to as a barometer of what we need to do to adapt to climate change. Prudent risk management strategies on the part of businesses who are in the game for the long haul can help the planet as a whole adapt; self-interest, a powerful motivator, is not necessarily a dirty word.

Acceding the fact that most mitigation and adaptation efforts are large-scale/long-term and therefore must be subsidized by large corporations and governments, Hertsgaard also addresses what individuals can do. Learning about intercropping, permaculture, FMNR and other ways to build soil fertility to help store water and carbon is important. Growing some of our own food and supporting local farmers is something everyone can do. Becoming aware of how precious the water we use is and avoiding wasting it is essential if we are to survive. The interface between business and consumer is an area full of potential for adaptation. For example, I'm hoping we'll soon see reasonably priced family-use products such as biochar burners hit the market so folks can create their own carbon-sequestering/tilth-enhancing garden charcoal out of some of their waste.

As Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives...nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." Hertsgaard makes a strong case that, if humans are to survive, we must get busy NOW adapting to climate change that is already happening and cannot be stopped. This book goes a long way toward helping us think in those terms.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important to read, February 13, 2011
This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
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This book provides a general review of many of the problems that face us with climate change. It is written by the author to his daughter, with a perspective of the legacy we are passing on to our children and grandchildren by our inattention to environmental basics. The book is sobering, scary and at times hopeful. It shows how climate change is not only real, but it is happening far faster than some scientists had predicted. It covers the severe impact to many different countries in the world, as well as stories of how some places (e.g. Africa) are responding to help mitigate and how other places (e.g. the US) are in a mode of oil-company sponsored denial. It looks at regions (e.g. Seattle) that are ahead of the curve in environmental planning and others, such as Florida, that are woefully behind.

Altogether the message is clear. Climate change is going to have major impact and repercussions to how everyone on the planet lives (or doesn't) and acting to mitigate and plan is critical now. As the book notes, in the first 10 years of the century we've gone through 30 years worth of carbon damage if we want some modicum of hope to avoid catastrophe. We must act now.

The book is both a wake up call and a dirge, with very interesting concrete examples of what types of actions we can or shouldn't take, and the sad history of ignoring the problem.

The general voice the author takes is writing to his daughter. This is powerful at times, but to me at least, detracted heavily at the start of the book. But although I found the beginning a bit slow, the overall impact is very strong and a book i've bought for others to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A blunter James Hansen - what we must do to mitigate AND adapt, March 27, 2011
This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
Reading this book, I wouldn't have blamed Hertsgaard for expressing more anger than he did, and by far.

Looking at the United States and its failures to date on both adaptation AND mitigation, the one "positive" think I can say I took away is that, outside of New Y ork City and the Pacific Northwest, other areas of the U.S. that will be hardest hit by climate change are red to screaming red states politically. That's right, Texas, Arizona, 20 years from now, I'll be enjoying a bit of Schadenfreude.

Speaking of that, I wish Hertsgaard would do a follow-up, with actual or fictitious kids for some of those spots, such as a six-year old kid from Houston (like New Orleans and the Netherlands, partially below sea level), to wonder about a big hurricane, or climate worse than New Delhi of today, 30 years from now. Or a 6-year-old in Phoenix, "enjoying" nights that never get below 100 degrees 30 years from now.

Otherwise, my header says it all -- selected places in the U.S., the Netherlands, the African Sahel, Shanghai, Bangladesh and m ore, Hertsgaard looks at what countries are and are not doing on both adaptation and mitigation and whether or not it will be enough, or even close to enough.

A must read.

And, Mark? Do the sequel I just suggested!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cause For Hope - If We Act, February 22, 2011
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This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
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This book took me quite a while to read. Not because of its length or complexity, but because of the subject matter. Climate change is one of the most important issues facing our planet, but because of the enormity of the consequences, it is also one of the scariest.

"In triggering climate change, humanity has unwittingly launched a planetary experiment. Because this experiment has never been run before, and because it involves extremely complicated systems, knowing exactly how it will turn out is impossible."

All of the science and scientific predictions in "Hot" agree that the results will be far from good. There is no disagreement that climate change is here and that it means dire things for many parts of Earth, the only thing that remains to be seen is how dire.

Because of all of this, I had to read "Hot" in parts. I could only take bits at a time...and some bit were easier than others. I am lucky enough to live in an area where one of the people profiled as being a positive force regarding climate change is laying good groundwork for our region going forward. I could focus on those successes and the things that the author outlined that individuals could do as I read the parts about what would occur if nothing was done.

I liked that Hertsgaard puts his daughter and another child at the forefront of this book. Because climate change is a gradual occurrence, it easier for many people to take the "I'll think about that tomorrow" approach. But when again and again, Hertsgaard reminds the reader that tomorrow is alive in the children of today, it makes it harder and harder to push the reality away. We save mementoes, heirlooms and money for our children's future - it's hard to disagree that we need to make sure that the world they will inhabit shouldn't be saved for them as well.

I was very interested to read that, "Bangladesh has done more over the past twenty years to understand and adapt to climate change than any other country in the world except for Great Britain and the Netherlands." Which is amazing to me as well as ironic because, "There is a terrible injustice at the heart of the climate problem: climate change punishes the world's poor first and worst, even though they did almost nothing to bring it on."

Though there are some very hard and necessary truths in "Hot", Mark Hertsgaard does a good job in walking the reader close to the ledge, but then showing them there is a ladder there. He deftly shifts the focus between the science of what will probably happen in the next fifty years to the actions that are being taken around the world to minimize and deal with the impacts. He does not let the reader off the hook or pretend that everything will be fine - but leads them to the blueprints of how things can be better.

I applaud the author for taking this subject on, especially with the concerted and highly funded campaign of lying with which climate change deniers are assaulting the world. This is about us, but more importantly, it is about our children. Not the children of tomorrow, but the children we are raising and protecting and loving today. "We are responsible for laying the foundations that future generations will build on, somewhat like the mason's who laid the foundation of the European cathedrals that took several centuries to complete. They knew they would not live to see the final product of their work, but they also knew they needed to do very solid, precise work because of all the weight that was going to be placed on top of their work."

We, too, need to take this long world view. We need to understand that tackling climate change is not only our most important challenge as a people but also possibly our greatest triumph.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wondering how Generation Hot is going to survive?, May 5, 2011
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This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
A superbly researched and fascinating explanation and forecast about the consequences of having done next to nothing to avert global climate change. Must-read is Chapter 8 "How Will We Feed Ourselves", especially "Are Genetically Modified Seeds the Answer?" Hertsgaard would not have known when he went to press that the Obama administration & chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee would be pressuring the USDA to release more GM crops this spring including RoundUp Ready alfalfa. A preliminary finding shows a feedthrough effect to dairy calves and dairy products consumed by human children. The calves became ill and aborted. There are 19 more scientific observations of abnormalities, especially in the lining of the intestine. It is hard for me to decide if that victimized generation should be called Generation GM or Generation Hot as Hertsgaard calls them. Why worry about surviving the heat if the people cannot depend on an agriculture with resilience to extreme climate events and that produces food that compromises the normal functioning of varied organs?

On today's news there was a report of an increase in the forecast of inevitable ocean rise from 3 feet to 5 feet. No response from our leaders in Washington, D.C. The science is not that hard to follow, the five interconnected feedback loops. In light of how the DOE cannot require fuel efficient cars any faster and the FDA is unable to protect us from Monsanto's contamination of our food and Congress has flatly refused since 1999 to even bring a bill out of committee to require GMO labeling for the protection of those with potential allergic reactions and other concerns, but instead is working on a bill to override Obama's moratorium on offshore drilling, it looks to me like the next 50 years on earth will be much worse for many higher life forms than the author forecasts.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey Baby, It's Hot Out Here, March 29, 2011
By 
P. Biery (Greater Seattle Area) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
Author Mark Hertsgaard has been walking the environmental beat for over fifteen years, writing for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Time, along with his own books, plus he recently attended the Copenhagen Conference, widely considered the most important global meeting in climate change history.

HOT is a comprehensive overview on the complicated global impacts of climate change, and what is being done to both reduce carbon emissions and adapt to unavoidable changes in countries worldwide. But HOT is also an impassioned tribute to the author's daughter, who will be living with the actions we as a society take or avoid, especially in the next few critical years.

Herstgaard makes the impact real, by looking at his specific community in California, describing in detail roads and places that will disappear or be changed beyond recognition if even the most conservative universally accepted scientific predictions become reality.

This book connected the dots between the environment and social justice for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What We Need To Do To Survive The Future With Climate Change, March 26, 2012
This review is from: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (Hardcover)
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As the father of a young daughter, I can certainly appreciate the author's concern for his own daughter, and using her as a writing mechanism for what we are facing is an interesting technique that at times becomes overdone. I care about all creatures, including his daughter, my daughter and every animal that will suffer due to our mistakes.

The book focuses on two main ideas. First, the author goes around the world and looks at conditions now and what conditions are expected to be under various scenarios that may occur under climate change. His trips take him to Bangladesh, The Netherlands, Africa, and portions of the United States. It s enlightening to see what may happen if we don't act now.

The author incorporates the two techniques we need to use in order to survive in each location. The two strategies are mitigation and adaptation, which are two very different actions. He explores what each country is doing in the way of mitigation and explains why it is or is not enough for that country to be doing. He also describes the adaptation techniques some countries have already begun to adopt and why they will or will not work.

In the end, there is some interesting information, but much of what is said has already been said before by various authors in other books on global warming and climate change. You won't find a lot of new information here, but if you are new to the subject, it may open your eyes to the problems we face.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forced optimism in a survey of global warming and climate change, February 24, 2012
By 
Mal Warwick (Berkeley, California) - See all my reviews
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We are now at least a decade into what journalist Mark Hertsgaard terms the "second era of global warming," which began sometime around the turn of the 20th century. As he writes, "The battle to prevent dangerous climate change was now over; the race to survive it has begun."

Hertsgaard probably has as broad and deep an understanding of global warming and its consequences in the form of climate change of any nonscientist on the planet. He has been writing about the topic for more than two decades and has interviewed most of the major players in climate science climate-related government policy not just for this book, which involved five years of travel around the world, but for Earth Odyssey, a widely read investigation published in 1999 that reflected seven years of travel. The man knows whereof he writes!

Hot is the author's attempt to find a hopeful path forward through the gathering storm of climate change. Throughout, he ponders the life his young daughter, Chiara, will face in adulthood. Much of Hot is written in an optimistic tone. Hertsgaard explores a laundry list of policies and procedures that, if widely implemented, will permit humanity to forestall the extremes of climate change and to adapt to its nonetheless unavoidable consequences. Some of the practices he touts -- painting roofs white and planting trees in African fields, for example -- could, in fact, achieve a great deal if universally employed. His theme is "Avoid the unmanageable, manage the unavoidable." Distinguishing between mitigation -- efforts to reduce carbon emissions -- and adaptation -- finding ways to adjust to the changing climate -- Hertsgaard devotes most of the book to the latter. Previous writing on global warming has tended to focus on mitigation, which heavily involves government and corporate policy. Adaption consists largely of changing the way people and communities behave.

Unfortunately, though, the context in which he writes is not encouraging. We live in a world in which massive corporations spend millions to protect their short-term profits regardless of the consequences, major news media reflect the views of their corporate owners, the overwhelming majority of people deny the obvious, and policymakers demonstrate their affinity for the art of the possible rather than showing true leadership. To a knowledgeable reader, much of the optimism in Hot seems forced.

What it all boils down to is this: "We face a towering challenge. Countries that today are all but addicted to fossil fuels must quit carbon within the next two to three decades. Deforestation and other climate-damaging activities must also be brought to a halt worldwide. And even poor and emerging economies must halt almost all emissions by 2050. Yet even if we manage all this, it will give us merely a two-out-of-three chance to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees C about preindustrial levels, itself an achievement of dubious merit, for it will mean the lost of most of the world's coral reefs, the disappearance of most of its mountain snowpacks, and enough sea level rise, eventually, to inundate the existing coastlines on every continent."

The facts are disturbingly grim: even if the human race somehow manages to come to grips with the existential threat of climate change and to do everything recommended by the authors of the most alarming scientific reports, we are already locked into at least 30 years, and possibly as many as 50 years, of serious trouble. "Climate change will worsen existing conflicts over water supplies, energy sources, and weather-induced migration . . . Economic prosperity is also endangered. Approximately 25 percent of the gross national product of the United States is at risk from extreme weather events, according to the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union."

One of the greatest threats to civilization lies in our oceans. "Three feet of sea level rise over the next hundred years -- which is near the low end of what scientists now expect -- will pose enormous challenges . . . [S]ome scientists believe our civilization could experience three feet of sea level rise within the next fifty years."

Perhaps equally problematic is the certainty of increasing drought. Much of Africa, a large swath of South Asia, and large portions of the United States, especially California, the Southwest, and the Great Plains, face intensifying water shortages.

There is no lack of horror stories available to illustrate the havoc these trends can create. However, over and above all the computer-modeled predictions for a steady increase in global temperatures over the coming decades is a much more horrific possibility: the potential that some unanticipated combination of circumstances will trigger "positive feedbacks that, in the worst case, could kick off some type of runaway greenhouse dynamics."

As Hertsgaard explains, "Unfortunately, there is ample precedent for this kind of abrupt shift into climate chaos. Although the human mind tends to think in gradual, linear terms, ice records and other historical data show that climate shifts, when they occur, tend to happen suddenly and exponentially."

Worrying about rising temperatures and their consequences is bad enough. But it's the potential of a "sudden and exponential" shift that keeps me awake nights.

(From [...])
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Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth
Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard (Hardcover - January 19, 2011)
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