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High Tide: The Truth About Our Climate Crisis Paperback – June 1, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

While governments debate and scientists test ever-more complicated hypotheses, ordinary people all over the world are starting to notice the effects of global warming. In High Tide, British journalist Mark Lynas visits global hot spots to record people's reactions and sound a clarion call for action. Readers looking for a "we are the world" approach to climate change may be taken aback by Lynas' flat expression of the uncomfortable truth: "Every time America votes, the world holds its breath.... Climate change begins and ends in America." Lynas damns the George W. Bush administration for undermining global efforts such as the Kyoto Protocol as well as actively preventing innovation within the United States that would reduce auto and industrial emissions. But High Tide isn't the firs or the best book to do that; instead, its narrative strength is in the riveting stories of how small towns, islands, riverside cities, and rural areas are being slowly destroyed. Gardeners in England will be unable to grow heritage plant species within the next 75 years. The Alaskan permafrost is melting, as temperatures there increase "ten times faster than in the rest of the world." An entire Pacific Island nation--Tuvalu--will soon disappear beneath the rising sea, leaving its people homeless. Lynas visits Alaska, Tuvalu, Peru, China, and the east coast of the United States, documenting the lives, places, and cultures that will be lost in the decades to come. Thankfully, just when hopelessness threatens to overwhelm the reader, High Tide offers a five-step plan to mitigate the most catastrophic effects of global climate change. Every step in the plan involves action by United States citizens and their elected representatives, offering American activists and visionaries a chance to do penance for wrecking parts of the world far from our own driveways. --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

Deeply disturbed by unprecedented rain and catastrophic flooding in his native England, journalist Lynas set out on a three-year journey to bear witness to global climate change. Traveling to Alaska to see vanishing tundra, to the growing deserts of Inner Mongolia, to a tiny Pacific island nation facing devastation from rising ocean levels and finally to disappearing glaciers in Peru, Lynas vividly describes the physical and human toll our fossil fuelâ€"based culture takes on the planet. Not a scientist himself, Lynas bolsters his case with abundant footnoted scientific references. This is both personal journey and fierce polemic. Much of his political argument and ire is directed squarely at the U.S. In Lynas's view, the U.S., through its domestic and foreign policy, has undermined the valiant efforts of a coalition of developed and developing countries to control and even reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. From the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which the first Bush administration threatened to boycott had there been any agreement that included mandatory restrictions, through what he sees as the Clinton policy of "green" lip service, to the second Bush administration's 2001 unilateral withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, Lynas portrays a government in league with carbon-producing and -consuming industrialists bent on promoting a vision "that what is good for oil corporations is good for Americaâ€"and, by extensionâ€"the world." In prose that is deeply felt and poignant, if sometimes awkward, Lynas makes no concession to evenhandedness in his assessment of the status quo. With a closing section including a six-point manifesto for addressing the global warming crisis and a comprehensive appendix listing information sources, advocacy groups and Web sites, this could well serve as a primer for budding antiâ€"global-warming activists. 6 pages of illus., maps not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312303653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312303655
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,281,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Erik D. Curren on March 4, 2006
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Mark Lynas traveled around the world to find tangible symptoms of global warming. He found them indeed, and some of them are truly heartbreaking. From the Pacific islanders who are preparing to abandon their island home, to the Alaskans in crazy, tilting houses over a foundation of melting permafrost, to the author's own flooding England, the stories hit home. It's hard to deny global warming after this.

But Lynas, like many environmental activists, falls flat on his solutions. For example, he says that because burning any more oil will worsen warming, "there should be a worldwide halt to the exploration and development of new oil, coal and gas reserves, because even existing reserves should never be burned as fuel." In his fear of warming, Lynas doesn't consider the immediate human suffering that such a rash course would create. It seems like he doesn't know--or doesn't care--how much our society relies on oil, not only for 90% of our transportation but for much of our food, pharmaecuticals, and other life-critical applications. For civilization to continue, we need a gradual, orderly draw-down from fossil fuels, not a crashing halt.

It might comfort Lynas to know that we'll have to get off oil anyway even without global warming, because cheap oil is fast running out. Those remaining reserves will be so much more difficult and expensive to pump than our oil today that we'll never even have a chance to use them up. And just as supply peaks, there's rising demand from China and India. $10 a gallon gas will get us off oil more quickly than fear of warming. But then our society will face other problems--including potential political collapse--that will make it all the more difficult to deal with warming.
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High Tide is amazing, not for predicting the future of the planet, but for telling you, in very personal terms, what is happening in the world today. I spent 14 years in and out of Alaska and became very well acquainted with the entire state, but have not returned since 1987. I was absolutely shocked at how our Northernmost state is suffering from the 10 (!) degree rise in temperature which is melting the permafrost. The resulting damage to homes, forests, native life, and other facets of an incredibly beautiful state deeply saddens me and gives me a strong urge to do something serious about global warming. This book really makes global warming upfront, real, and personal without preaching or supplying solutions. Things are simply reported the way they are without predjudice. I highly recommend it. Our politicians should be duct-taped to chairs and forced to read this book.

Once you have become thoroughly depressed by reading the state of the world in "High Tide", by all means obtain a copy of "Earth: The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming" by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn. That book gives an outlook on all of the alternative means of producing energy that have a zero or low carbon footprint. Good Reading.
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I read this book in good faith years ago and again recently. Its clear that things have moved on since it was penned but for me this is a great attempt at bringing the issues to the masses and Mark provided an honest diary of research and observation.I happen to think about half of his conclusions are wrong, but thats just a personal stand point.... for me this book is not about who is right and who is wrong, its about genuine issues of the day. Its a great book and a great history piece. Bravo Mr Lynas.
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I had to read this book for a college course, given that I minored in English. I wasn't a big fan of the book, honestly, but I didn't like the class either, so that's not saying much. It's an inexpensive book though!
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Although many studies of climate change and its impact have been published, few count the human cost. Mark Lynas makes up for that oversight in this vividly presented account. As a journalist, he's unconstrained by the limitations of long-term data sets, political reaction to his personal findings or peer group pressure. He travels the globe, even to the point of last minute flight bookings, to observe conditions. His approach is to confront people and ask about their experiences with changing weather over the years. The method is direct, straightforward and revealing. What it demonstrates is more than startling, it's devastating.
While the scientists debate the temperature rise rate or the intensity of this or that storm, around the planet people are living through the conditions of warming climate. Tuvalu residents, on their miniscule island chain in mid-Pacific, are watching the land wash away. It isn't just that melting ice caps are raising sea levels and ruining crops. There are more frequent and more devastating storms occuring. In China, land is also moving, but the reason is the opposite - the rains have ceased and the land is dried and blowing away in fierce desert winds. The account of a lone woman, the last survivor of a village overwhelmed by drought, is more poignant [to me] than anything found in fiction. And the number of such stories is growing.
If a most gripping part of this book must be chosen, it is Lynas' tour of Peru and the Cordillera Blanca glaciers. His father, a geologist, had visited the area three decades before, camera in hand. Huge glaciers, akin to frozen waterfalls, fill the images. With those photos in his knapsack, Lynas trudges up the slopes, racked by Alititude Sickness, to record any changes.
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