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How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth's Climate Hardcover – April 15, 2010
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When Jeff Goodell first encountered the term "geoengineering," he had a vague sense that it involved outlandish schemes to counteract global warming. As a journalist, he was deeply skeptical. But he was also intrigued. The planet was in trouble. Could geoengineers help? Climate change may well be the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. Temperatures in some regions of the world could increase by as much as fifteen degrees by the end of the century, causing rising sea levels and severe droughts. But change could also happen much more suddenly. What if we had a real climate emergency, the ecological equivalent of the subprime mortgage meltdown--how could we cool the planet in a hurry? As Goodell shows in this bracing book, even if we could muster the political will for it, cutting greenhouse gas emissions alone may not be enough to reduce the risk of climate catastrophe. This has led some scientists to pursue extreme solutions: huge contraptions that would suck CO2 from the air, machines that would brighten clouds and deflect sunlight away from the earth, even artificial volcanoes that would spray heat-reflecting particles into the atmosphere. In How to Cool the Planet, Goodell explores the scientific, political, financial, and moral aspects of geoengineering. How are we to change the temperature of whole regions if we can't even predict next week's weather? What if a wealthy entrepreneur shots particles into the stratosphere on his own? What about wars waged with climate control as the primary weapon? What happens to our relationship with nature when, as Goodell puts it, we all find ourselves living in a giant terrarium? And our options are dwindling. Maybe, Goodell suggests, we need to start taking geoengineering seriously. Maybe it's Plan B for the planet. And if it is, we need to know enough to get it right. Thoroughly reported and convincingly argued, How to Cool the Planet is a compelling tale of scientific hubris and technical daring. But it is also a thoughtful, even-handed look at a deeply complex and controversial issue. It's a book that will surely jump-start the next big debate about the future of life on earth.
A Q&A with Jeff Goodell, Author of How to Cool the Planet
(Photo © Eric Etheridge)
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the answers that has been proposed is that we "geoengineer" the planet by trying a number of different techniques to lessen the amount of sun light that is striking the earth. Some of the ideas have been outlandish: dropping millions of styrofoam balls in the ocean, sending giant umbrellas into space to "shade" the earth, and other equally weird proposals. Some of the ideas, however, are much simpler and much more likely to be cost effective and effective in lowering the amount of sun hitting the planet. Included in these ideas are pumping small particulate matter into the upper atmosphere, increasing the reflectivity of clouds and dumping thousand of tons of iron into the ocean to increase the amount of plankton, which would absorb carbon dioxide from the air.
The author explores these ideas and provides a background into the history of geoengineering as well interviewing key players that have been involved in trying to find a solution to climate change. The author also explores the ethical and moral obligations that geoengineering would hold, as well as how the concept would be regulated and by whom.Read more ›
The author got the idea for the book from Nobel-laurete Paul Crutzen's 2006 paper about injecting sulfur into the upper atmosphere to offset global warming. Crutzen wrote that paper because he believes that counting on nations to reduce CO2 emissions is a "pious wish"; and because it may already be too late to stave off disaster by simply cutting emissions since too much CO2 may have already been emitted (CO2 can remain in the upper atmosphere for thousands of years).
The author profiles some of the key players in the emerging geo-engineering field and discusses various technologies such as sulfur injection, cloud reflectivity and CO2 extraction (directly from the air or by adding iron to the ocean to promote plankton). In various interludes, he also recounts the history of geo-engineering (going back to 19th century rainmakers) and the modern parallels with nuclear weapons. In fact, Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb, was an early proponent of geo-engineering. Even without concerns of global warming, it seems that geo-engineering will be an emerging technology because of potential military uses and mankind's long dream to control weather.
There's relatively little discussion on the science of global warming: up-front, the author says the book is not for skeptics or deniers. However, some interesting facts about the debate come up. While drawing parallels between GW and ozone depletion, the author reveals that computer models of ozone depletion during the 1980s were wrong! They showed no threat from CFCs - it wasn't until scientists actually made real measurements that they discovered the ozone hole over Antarctica.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thoughtful and lucid, yes. But this misses the boat on so many levels. Why? Because Global Warming is a good thing. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Carl Martin
It is disturbing that is has come to this: We have messed up the atmosphere with one set of technologies (i.e. Read morePublished on November 24, 2013 by Dr. Lionel
The science of global warming is final then: CO2 emissions by man threatens the future of the planet. How wrong can you be? Read morePublished on May 28, 2012 by Dr. P. R. Lewis
The book How to Cool the Planet" by Jeff Goodell gives interesting information not only about the science (geoengineering) but also about the scientists(e.g. prof. Keit). Read morePublished on May 16, 2011 by Zdenek
I first heard of geoengineering (attempting to make deliberate changes in the Earth's atmosphere so as to influence the climate) in the worst book of recent times,... Read morePublished on September 27, 2010 by Keith Otis Edwards
This is a book for those who are committed to the beliefs that global warming is: (1) a consistent verifiable trend caused by accumulation of carbon dioxide in the stratosphere, or... Read morePublished on August 19, 2010 by John Durkee
Goodell tells readers that studies indicate that U.S. temperatures could increase as much as 15 degrees by the end of the century, and that James Hansen, godfather of global... Read morePublished on June 12, 2010 by Loyd Eskildson