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What's the Worst That Could Happen?: A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate Paperback – July 7, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 2007, high school science teacher Craven posted a ten-minute video, The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See, , predicting dire consequences without strong measures to stop global warming. That video attracted millions of viewers; his focus now is not "what" to think about global warming, but "how." Using clear language and charts, Craven sketches not just the cost/benefit analysis of over-reacting and failing to act, but the fundamentals of sound science. Training readers to evaluate competing arguments, he points to a number of expert sources for reliable information (American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences, National Security Agency, leading climate scientists like James Hansen). Take a measured look at the skeptics (from the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, etc.), he finds that the risk of global climate destabilization outweighs the supposedly prohibitive costs ("devastating economic consequences") of implementing environmental protection measures. Craven's popular style might be better suited to the classroom-cutesy graphics, groan-worthy section heads like "Dude, Where's My Science?"-but science and ecology novices will find his approach welcome and enlightening.
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"Greg Craven has written a brilliant and unique work on global warming. His innovative and intelligent approach to this controversial issue is superbly crafted. It is an important book that is a must read for those who care about our planet and future generations."
-General Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Retired)

"This book trumps most of our accounts of the global warming crisis, partly for its good humor and straightforward logic, and partly because the author has actually figured out what actions make sense. Changing your lightbulb will help a little, but changing the political debate will help enormously-and this book will get you started down that path."
-Bill McKibben, author The End of Nature

"The worst thing that could happen is that you don't read this book! Greg Craven has written a valuable primer on the global warming debate."
-Gregg Easterbrook, author, Sonic Boom

"This is a tremendous book and well worth anyone's time to read. It very clearly and concisely covers all the important points not only about the climate change situation in our moment, but how we think and decide about important issues. Anyone who enjoyed Craven's YouTube triumph "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See" will enjoy unpacking that experience in this book, and for people running into Craven for the first time, you're in for a treat-he is funny as well as well as exceptionally clear, and wise."
-Kim Stanley Robinson, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of The Mars trilogy and Science in the Capital

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books; Original edition (July 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399535012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399535017
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Greg Craven grew up on a farm in Oregon, experimented with different jobs for a decade, and finally found his calling as a high school physics and chemistry teacher. His main qualification for proposing a layman's approach to climate change is having borrowed the 30 brains in his classroom every period to mull questions of science and critical thinking for the last ten years. He's found there's no better way to refine a thought than to toss it out in front of a roomful of critical teenagers. He is a bit surprised to find he's written a book as a result. Craven lives in Corvallis, Oregon with his wife and two young daughters.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 71 people found the following review helpful By N. PALMER on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
I cannot recommend this book enough; it's based on a wildly popular and critically acclaimed set of videos originally aired on YouTube which garnered many millions of hits on various websites.How It All Ends (Single Disc Edition)

Greg Craven has the spark of genius in the way he cuts through all the confusing "it will, it won't, it will too!". On the one hand we have clever wordy scientists and on the other, crafty manipulative, articulate global warming deniers (Ok, I'm a little biased on this one!) and the poor ordinary bloke doesn't know who to believe in the shouting match. He/she just wants to know what's the best bet to protect their loved family and friends. They don't want to risk damaging the economy but they also don't want to risk ruining the planet that their kids will grow up in. How on earth can they decide what's best?

This book will show how you don't need to be an expert to make your own sensible decisions using the sort of ordinary risk assessment techniques that we all use when we cross the road or buy house or car insurance.

Craven basically looks at what each side in the debate is claiming and looks at what will happen if they are wrong and then shows what the consequences would be for us all. Instead of trying to work out definitively who is right, which is very difficult as shown by the many complicated books available that try to, Craven clearly shows that asking what happens if one or the other side is wrong gives a very simple, yet brilliant, way of deciding what the best bet is when deciding what to do, or not do, about it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Erik P. on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether you are already convinced of the threat of climate change and want to learn how to help correct it (or want to help convince someone else) or a skeptic who wants to make absolutely sure of your convictions, or even someone who doesn't care about the climate change debate at all, you will take something from this book. Craven presents, in a clear and easy-to-digest way, a new way of thinking about not only the issue at hand, but any sort of difficult decision. If you want to train your mind to think better, please buy this book. And one for your sibling. And cousin. And friend. And co-worker. And someone you see on the street.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By glacier68 on August 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
*Disclaimer - Greg is a good college friend, so I am in no way objective in this review . He's no newcomer to the debate, though, and has been passionate about this topic since the late 80's. I remember talking Peak Oil late into the night on more than one occasion.*

That said - the strength and value of this book is not just in its parsing of the climate change debate and its permutations. It is as an excellent primer for the layperson on critical thought, the scientific process, and understanding how to look beyond the sound bites and understand the perspective of the various parties making arguments on both sides of the issue. These elements are as important, or more important, than the main thesis of the book as it helps us be better, more educated, and thoughtful citizens. These tools that Greg presents can be used in a wide variety of arguments and issues that we approach.
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63 of 88 people found the following review helpful By John Thornton on November 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an easy to read book for most adults and high-school students and does an honest job at attempting to do what the author claims he wishes to do. That is, provide an argument for addressing climate change regardless of "what the science eventually concludes". The reason I give just three stars is that Craven does a disservice to all by even keeping alive the idea that the science is unsettled and such a debate even exists. The science has been clear for several decades now. One need merely read the Charney Report from 1979 which concludes "our best estimate is that changes in global temperature of the order of 3°C will occur and that these will be accompanied by significant changes in regional climatic patterns."
The 1979 JASON technical report entitled "The Long Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate" also predicted that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would double from their pre-industrial levels by about 2035. Today it is expected this will happen by about 2050. They suggested that this doubling of carbon dioxide would lead to an average warming across the planet of 2-3C, an estimate in line with the most current IPCC findings. They further warned that polar regions would warm by much more than the average, perhaps by as much as 10C or 12C. That prediction is already coming true and was also predicted by the IPCC in 1995.
In other words there is no debate. The scientific predictions from 30 years ago, made from assessments gathered during the 1960's and 1970's, told us what ALL peer-reviewed assessments since then have told us. All we have essentially done in the last 25 years is further refine the predictions on the regional effects.
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