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The Suicidal Planet: How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe Hardcover – April 17, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (April 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312353553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312353551
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Despite its off-putting title, this book presents a clear-eyed and well-documented overview of global warming, and an optimistic but practical plan for avoiding the worst of the damage. Drawing on scientific consensus, Hillman, Fawcett and Rajan describe the havoc global warming will likely wreak in 20 to 100 years if we do not act : a rise in infectious diseases and outbreaks of desert across the American plains and western Europe, as many as 150 million environmental refugees and possibly 95% species extinction. Their conclusion: to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide to a safe level, U.S. citizens will have to cut their carbon emissions by 80% by 2030. With governments and individuals in a "near-universal state of denial" on the topic, the authors propose what they consider the only realistic and fair solution. Each person on earth would be given an equal, tradable "carbon allowance" that would steadily shrink over time, they suggest, to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide in check to avert unacceptable climate change. Environmental activists may already be familiar with these ideas, but this comprehensive, concise and beautifully organized overview of an undeniably important issue make it a must-read for anyone even slightly concerned about our future on this planet. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hillman, a British architect and environmental public policies expert, and Fawcett, of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, (coauthors of How We Can Save the Planet, 2004), with input from climate-change scholar Sudhir Chella Rajan, attempt to persuade readers that the dangers of global warming mitigate all current efforts to curb the growing catastrophe. In stark prose heavily dependent on statistics and figures, they posit that little in current plans to decrease global warming is effective. They express particular concern over America's car culture and fossil-fuel dependence, and focus on a carbon allowance card system, a solution Hillman and Fawcett have studied in depth. As this card would require national registration and tracking by the federal government, it seems unlikely that Americans would find the solution acceptable, but perhaps the alarm this suggestion arouses will induce more interest in increased fuel efficiency. Clearly a lot of work went into the crafting of this book's arguments and the gathering of its wealth of information, however off-putting the perspective and conclusion may be for some readers. Colleen Mondor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. B. Benson on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book to read on climate change and what can be done about it. The authors write concisely and persuasively, using well documented facts and theories. The writing is informative and can be easily understood.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part describes the problem. Many of us know and understand the problem, but the book goes beyond simply explaining the problem to discuss the potential growth in energy use and the public's current response. The second part discusses current strategies to ameliorate climate change and explains why those strategies (including technological innovation and carbon sequestration) are inadequate to solve the problem. The third part recommends a two-step solution. The first step is contraction and convergence, in which countries move toward a common per capita emission of green house gases. The second step is personal carbon allowances. The authors make a good case that contraction and convergence can break the international stalemate on Kyoto, and that contraction and convergence, and personal carbon allowances, amnount to the fair and equitable way to save the planet. There is also a section on how we could live within the carbon allowance.

The authors' conclusion is that we will get climate by negligence or climate by choice -- and climate by negligence is unaccepable.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard H. Burkhart on December 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book not only really lays it on the line (we must act in powerful ways very soon to slow down global warming), it also suggests some powerful techniques to get there. Equity and markets are often see at odds, but the proposed `tradable personal carbon allowances' actually creates markets to force equitable long term reductions in carbon emissions. This would supplement `cap and trade' systems for industries at national or regional levels, while a similar 'contraction and convergence' scheme would operate between countries at the global level.

At the personal level, everyone would get a fixed carbon allowance for a fixed time period. If they used less then their allowance during that period, they could automatically sell the unused part on a computerized market to someone who needed more. Both seller and buyer would have strong incentives to reduce their carbon emissions, as the seller would profit by doing so, while the buyer would suffer less of a penalty. Moreover the sellers would tend to be poorer, and the buyers richer, hence the majority of citizens would become powerfully invested in the campaign to slow, and eventually reverse, global warming.

Carbon taxes, by contrast, often face strong popular resistance due to their perceived inequity. But the authors should consider that an equitable carbon tax would be a sales tax on the transactions of the computerized market. The revenues could then be used help needy individuals and small businesses to reduce their carbon emissions. In addition, small businesses could be included in the computerized market based on the number of full time employees or something similar.

These concepts have been developed in Europe, especially Britain, where two of the authors work as researchers.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By craig williams on May 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This work belong next to Al Gore's An Inconvient Truth as a difinitive work on Global Warming. In fact it is the most pragmatic work on Climate Change that I've come across. Divided into three sections: The Problem,Current Strategies and The Solution,one gets a good overview of the problem and current stratgies which lead into a logical plausible blueprint for what to do.And what we can do is doable according to the authors.

I came away convinced we can solve the problems associated with global warming, except for reducing air travel which seems like it might be one of our biigest obstacles.Aside from air travel limitations, we could end up with more community and a more egalitarian world.
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