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Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change 1st Edition

4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199933877
ISBN-10: 0199933871
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Editorial Reviews

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Q&A with Andrew Guzman, author of Overheated

Q. Though most scientists now agree that climate change is a reality, the political debate continues. Why do you think this is?

A. The debate on the science of climate change is one of the great public relations successes of our time. Well-organized and well-heeled interest groups that benefit from continuing to emit greenhouse gases without limit have conducted an organized and intentional campaign to persuade the public that there is no threat here. It seems, however, that this campaign is finally failing in the face of overwhelming evidence and opinion that makes the reality of climate change irrefutable. It is essential that the debate move on to the far more important questions of how climate change will affect us and what we can and should do about it.

Q. What will the greatest human costs be from a 2° Celsius increase in average global temperature?

A. The costs will be large and varied and the greatest cost is perhaps the one that affects you and your family. But one constant across a large share of the problems that will emerge is water. Rising seas will flood some land and make other territory less valuable for agriculture as salt leeches into the soil. Melting glaciers, meanwhile, will increase flooding during rainy seasons and drought during dry seasons; a reality that will bring water crises to perhaps half of the world's population. At the same time, changing precipitation patterns will toy with our established pattern of habitation and agriculture. In short, humans need water everyday and for everything we do, and climate change will disrupt virtually all of our existing water systems.

Q. How active of a role should the Unites States play in mitigating climate change, both domestically and abroad?

A. The United States is the essential climate change country. It is the world’s second largest emitted of climate change and it is impossible to imagine a workable solution without American cooperation and, more importantly, leadership. We have been foot-draggers on the topic so far, but it is critical that we recognize the threat and take on a leadership role internationally. China, Europe, India, and Brazil can plausibly build a global coalition sufficient to make a real difference in how the planet warms.

From Booklist

Despite the myopic denial and caustic skepticism of pundits and political hacks who would have the world believe otherwise, climate change is, in fact, a condition that has been definitively established and recognized, both within the community of climate scientists and beyond. Rather than limit his discussion to a scientific debate with those within the media and government who continue to perpetrate disinformation while the globe warms, Guzman examines the wide-ranging perils that ignoring climate change will wreak, from obliteration of entire nations to war-provoking imbalances in food and water supplies. Using worst-case scenarios as his baseline, Guzman describes the pandemic devastation likely to occur within mere decades if this global disaster continues to go unchecked. A respected legal scholar, educator, and economist, Guzman is far from an environmental alarmist. His precise analyses and stirring conclusions are presented in unambiguous terms, and with compassion and concern for those most likely to be affected by a continued lack of action on the most critical issue of modern times. --Carol Haggas

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199933871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199933877
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Guzman is Professor of Law, Director of the Advanced Law Degree Programs, and Associate Dean for International and Executive Education at Berkeley Law School, University of California, Berkeley. Professor Guzman holds a J.D. and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. He has written extensively on international trade, international regulatory matters, foreign direct investment and public international law. He is the author of Overheated, How International Law Works, both from Oxford University Press, and International Trade Law from Wolters Kluwer.


Professor Guzman served as editor for the Research Handbook In International Economic Law, published by Edward Elgar Press and Regulation and Competition in the Global Economy: Cooperation, Comity, and Competition Policy, published by Oxford University Press. Professor Guzman is a member of the Board of Editors of several journals including the Journal of International Economic Law and the International Review of Law and Economics. He is also a member of the Academic Council of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration and has served as an international arbitrator.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Overheated," by Andrew Guzman, is not just another climate change book. For one thing, Guzman is a lawyer with a background in economics, not a scientist, so those looking for a thorough scientific explanation of climate science will be disappointed. Those who are concerned that he would approach the scientist like a lawyer will have their concerns allayed - his scientific exposition is relatively brief, but it is firmly grounded in science. But it is his background and his ability to bring the subject to a human scale that makes this an invaluable volume.

Guzman does explain enough of the science to make the subject understandable, but his strength is in describing the effects of climate change, both current and future. From drought to famine to war to pestilence, Guzman constructs a veritable stable for the apocalyptic horsemen. The scenarios are alarming without being alarmist. The history of these factors in human civilizations, an understanding of what is currently happening and predictions of what could happen to these factors and are all used to drive home the point that the effects of climate change put our civilizations at risk. The story is less about saving the earth than it is about saving civilization. Although the former is important, it is realistic to assume that action by governments will come about because of the risk to people.

Besides its readability and clear language, the book succeeds because of four factors. First, Guzman bases his predictions on conservative estimates of the experts, a change of 2°C, so he is looking at a scenario that has a high probability of happening (acknowledging that it could be even worse). Second, the fact that he is not a scientist means that he has a good handle on what information is important for the non-scientist.
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Format: Hardcover
There is much discussion and publications about the changes that climate disruption could bring upon us, and above all, on our descendants. Alas, said discussions tend to stick in the stratosphere of generalities.

Guzman's book bring it to the ground, where it matters to each and every one of us. The book is well-documented, and contrary to the blatant falsehoods put forth by some, (a constant every time a publication about climate disruption hit the wires) the sources are accurate and factual.

The bottom line? If you don't want to have to tell your daughters that there is a high probability that they'll never be grandmothers, read this book. It'll motivate you to take action.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book describes realistically the multi-faceted impacts of present and future global warming on many aspects of society in the United States and globally. Guzman discusses the implications for agriculture, water resources, human conflict, health, and other areas. For example, he makes a good argument that the Darfur genocidal conflict was the world's first "climate war."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Andrew Guzman’s book “Overheated” does an excellent job explaining how climate change will affect us in the future. Guzman, serving as Dean at USC Gould School of Law, felt it was his duty to educate the public with the consequences that climate change will bring. His approach is not to prove to the readers that climate change is occurring but rather to show them how it will affect our everyday lives and ultimately the preventative measures that should be taken to reduce this devastation.
While Guzman does not have a degree in the science field, I think his background in law is quite helpful when presenting his ideas. The way in which he supports his claims and evidence comes across very credible and reliable. Guzman knows the importance of facts and carries this theme throughout the book.
For those unfamiliar with the evidence supporting changes in climate, this book may be a bit difficult to follow. Guzman does a good job refreshing us with what is taking place but this book is definitely not an introduction to climate change.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like this books as a solid effort in an emerging genre; but I found it a little bit too informal in tone. So I'm giving it 4.6 stars and that rounds to Five. Now if you are wondering what is in the book, the following is my view of the central themes.

It is written from the perspective of: An attorney learns the science and considers the sociological implications of climate change. The most important supporting idea in developing the thesis is that the author intentionally errs mild of center on the temperature rise estimate; and he tries to walk the reader through the ideas behind scientific and mathematical uncertainty. That is: Guzman takes a meta-perspective of teaching the lay person how to understand the central problem with climate change: We know how to make accurate predictions but not with the precision with which we can predict something relatively simple like the trajectory of Jupiter. The earth as a system is too complicated and we don't have a lot of the fine structure worked out.

Having dispensed with a reasonable approach to 'how do we understand this issue?' the author continues into a second meta-question: Suppose his slightly on the mild side of center hypothetical is wrong and things get a degree or two hotter. Then his point is: It doesn't get 'a little bit worse'. It gets much much worse. And therein is the rub: If it's not too bad then it is very bad indeed; and if it is bad then it is much much worse. So now it would be a good idea to think about how insurance works.

Finally I'd like to commend the author for going into local-scale impacts. He talks about Bangladesh at length, for example; where we expect to see some of the first big collisions between sea level and dense populations.
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