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on October 25, 2015
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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on June 8, 2015
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.

I hope to see this type of evaluation flourishing. In my experience the environmental scientists are working very hard on the physical implications and do not have a lot of headroom left over for the human impact. So here we have a good start on that. And thankfully there is only a small amount of dispensing with the red herring of 'is this really happening?' I very much appreciate this new approach of: Don't debate with people who are not interested in debating (with thanks to Bill Nye anyway); rather let's just move on and deal with the situation and they can catch up or not as they are able.
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on August 10, 2013
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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on April 6, 2014
I think the implication of our failure to mitigate the threat of climate change is unquestionably the most important topic of our time. Yet it's rarely considered by the public; and is a topic that yields few book sales or widely read articles in mainstream periodicals.

I hesitated for several months to purchase this book. That's because I'm aware of the fact that climate scientists don't predict a 2º C rise as the expected result by 2100. Instead 2ºC increase is a higher-bound prediction if we get on a more aggressive mitigation path than we're currently following [1].

The 2014 IPCC's "business-as-usual" prediction (RCP8.5), which is our current path, reports an expected rise of 3.7º C with a range of 2.6º C to 4.8º C [2].

So why read this book if it covers the implications of a less probable, and more benign outcome? Amazon reader comments in David R. Cassatt's review convinced me that Guzman was on sufficient-enough ground using a modest prediction rather than the expected future result. That's because a 2º C increase still results in catastrophic results that are confidently held in the climate science community; so the warnings should be well heeded even at 2º C.

While I think this book was well worth my time given there are few resources that collectively report the implications of climate change, this effort is deeply flawed. Mr. Guzman is not a scientist where he's in dire need of scientific collaboration from two aspects. One would be to report more scientific findings on the implications of a 2º C rise and secondly, to guarantee the overall presentation is up to scientific standards in terms of precisely framed communications.

Mr. Guzman speculates far too much, using his common sense to tie past afflictions to his own predictions of the climate change threat. For example, disparate populations being condensed into close proximity during WWI led to mass deaths via the spread of contagious diseases. The currently observed (Syria) and predicted loss of water resources in poor, populated regions will result in mass migrations. These conditions at least increases the probability of future mass epidemics.

I'm confident this general threat assessment is probably accurate, but I'd appreciate far less coverage of past tragic events with mere speculation about the future and instead, far more reportage on predictions by scientists publishing on this topic.

Perhaps we have the technology now to mitigate this sort of contagion threat. That's doubtful, but I wouldn't assume the past would repeat itself since not all conditions are similar, particularly given our technological advancements. I think it would have been far better to more fully report the prediction of scientific assessments on epidemics and edit out the common sense assessments by our layman author.

I also found the coverage on predicted changes to the ocean life and food chains in general far too lightly analyzed. This argues that the reader of this book should complement this book with Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, which focuses on the mass extinction threat humans have introduced via anthropogenic global warming.

Overheated also needs a science-centric editor to eradicate all the sloppy language and thinking. We're confronted with Guzman's non-scientific rhetoric that is gut-cringing to science literate readers reading about a science-centric topic. Terms like, "felts", "knows", and the misuse of other terms; e.g., "believers" and "skeptics". For the latter, `skeptics' is his term for those instead behaving like standard-issue denialists, green-washers, or cranks/contrarians. There's also a lack of citations for provocative factual assertions and a misleading dice analogy [3].

Guzman did shine on reporting the risks of fresh water shortages. Especially vivid were observations and predicted shortages in Guzman's own backyard of California. I also enjoyed his reporting on agricultural threats in Africa. Too bad other threats weren't reported to these levels of excellence.

The book does inform its readers, so it's worth the read. It's just frustrating to see so few efforts on a topic of paramount concern where here the author is an amateur. If no one person is fully qualified to present a sufficient overview of the implications of global warming, then please, lets see collaborative efforts.

1] Scenario RCP4.5 according to the IPCC's 2014 Summary for Policymakers report

2] Ibid, Table SPM.2

3] Page 2 of the Kindle version of Overheated: Temperature predictions are not discrete possibilities as Guzman asserts but instead a continuum of possibilities like I report above from the IPCC report. Guzman does recover a couple of [Kindle] pages later.
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on October 11, 2013
It is obvious that climate change is very costly. However, I see no political will to do anything about it.
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on February 2, 2013
"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. Third, his expertise in economics allows him to look at economic scenarios and assess their probabilities. Last, he uses a wealth of analogies to make daunting concepts understandable. We respond much more to stories than to data, and Guzman has obviously learned this important communications lesson.

At the end of the book, Guzman describes the excuses for inaction (using the analogies of a child putting his head under the covers and a teenager procrastinating) and assesses the actions that are being discussed. This final section is relatively brief, but particularly strong, and his explanation of the economics and politics of a carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade is a must-read. In fact, the volume itself should be widely read, and should take its place along with the heavy-duty scientific books and books about the denial machine.
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on February 27, 2013
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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on July 17, 2015
A must read for anyone who doesn't understand where the climate is taking us.
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on July 28, 2013
I was pleased with receiving the book early and in very good shape. I would definitely recommend the service, will finish reading the book in the next couple of weeks.
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on February 20, 2013
It's excellent subject related to the Energy and Climate Change the field that interested me the most, part of my job and research.
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