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The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521539418
ISBN-10: 0521539412
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Editorial Reviews


"Each of the key aspects of global climate change is covered, with up-to-date and well-referenced information throughout. Its impressive breadth and the provision of succinct overviews of source material in the further reading sections of each chapter mean that teachers, lecturers and researchers will all find this book a useful starting oint for in-depth study."
David Reay, Edinburgh University

"This is a book which all scientists and the educated general public should read and reflect upon before it is too late to halt the apparently inevitable progress to Armageddon."

"Ensure[s] fluent reading for non-expert, yet educated, citizens. The book is logically structured and it should become a key reading and teaching source in geography and environmental sciences. It can also be valuable to doctoral students and senior researchers interested in learning about climate change science and politics. Overall it is a book worth having on one's shelf."
Environmental Sciences

"provides perhaps the most comprehensive and comprehensible analysis of the debates around climate change and is likely to become a foundational text for students, scholars, policymakers, and citizens seeking clarity on this topic. The scholarly value of The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change is indisputable. Dessler and Parson independently possess significant authority on both the science and the politics of climate change. Their treatment of the subject illustrates the complexity of the problem with remarkable ease and clarity. By juxtaposing the scientific and the political processes, they enrich the academic literature which has traditionally separated the two and open up new avenues for exploring policy solutions. Scientists will find value in the discussion of how their work is used by policymakers. Those knowledgeable about the politics of climate change will find value in the discussion of the science."
Global Environmental Politics

"Excellent overview of an increasingly critical issue."
Future Survey

"I found the book quite well written, with a good explanation of a suitable range of relevant scientific, "political" and economic concepts...I believe it is a good candidate for a primer for mulitdisciplinary classes devoted to climate policy..."
Canadian Public Policy, Randall M. Wigle, Wilfrid Laurier University

"It explains scientific and policy debates, discusses areas of knowledge and uncertainty regarding climate change, and offers possible policy options."
American Meteorological Society

"[Dressler and Parson] open with a powerful organizing principle for the climate and their book: to clearly distinguish between objective understanding (i.e., what we know) and subjective value judgment (i.e. what we believe should be). As a framework for thinking, this holds great promise: it curbs the potential to use ignorance to manipulate the debate, but also acknowledges the limits of scientific understanding."
Paul A. T. Higgins, Senior Fellow, AMS Policy Program

"...Dessler and Parson succeed in making both science and policy accessible to a wide readership. As someone working at the interface of science and policy, I could comfortably recommend this book to friends and colleagues. The book--which is well illustrated with easy-to-grasp figures, and which has summary tables provided at several key junctures--would also make an excellent resource for a high school or college-level survey course in either environmental studies or public policy. - Wendy S. Gordon, EOS

"If you teach an environmental science course and need a short glimpse at the issue of global warming, this book is worth examining." -Ecology

Book Description

Climate variability has become the primary environmental concern of the 21st Century. Yet despite the scientific community's warnings of the imminent dangers of global warming, politicians world-wide have failed to agree on what to do about this potentially devastating environmental problem. In this introductory primer, Dessler and Parson combine their respective expertise in the areas of atmospheric science and public environmental policy to help scientists, policy makers and the general public sort through the conflicting claims of the debate.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521539412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521539418
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,312,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent way into the subject for the beginner. There's some very sound science, most of which is agreed upon and a good understanding of how policy making works, or doesn't. The two ideas are brought together along with a discussion as to how we might proceed. One of the strengths of the book is the frequent use of boxes to put alternative viewpoints and summaries to show where we are in the debate. The overall effect is one of the most lucid and readable introductory accounts of the topic that has been published in some while. As such it should be seen as a 'must-buy' and an essential addition to the library.
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Format: Paperback
How does science work? And how do politics work? How does it all fit together with the data that has come from various sources all over the planet - and is climate change real? All these questions are addressed in an easy read, very neutral. The authors take a firm stand on the issue finally, from a scientific perspective, and the result is clear: Yes, it is real, and it is coming at us, while politicans are incapable and totally overwhelmed by the problem. It is a new kind of threat nobody can deal with, thus we ignore it. Too much for us. Surprising to read from two high profile, Ex-NASA scientists from the US themselves. Alerting at the same time. A must read to be up to date with the debate or quickly get an overview. Stefan Klose - University of Ulm - Germany
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Format: Paperback
In my effort to learn about climate change, I found it admittedly very difficult to read the lengthy IPCC reports (e.g. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis), so it's wonderful to have Dessler's and Parson's short, inexpensive book to give a guide to the findings of the IPCC, as well as to explain some of the politics in a calm, rational way. I think that any citizen genuinely interested in this topic should try to become familiar with the actual IPCC findings.

What is the IPCC ? What have they concluded ? How uncertain are the conclusions ? How have the policy makers reacted ? What are the scientific criticisms ? These issues are explained in this nice compact book. A very good aspect of this book is that it conforms to the standard practice of scientific argument: it shows data, describes theories (models), discusses how the theory fits data, explains the uncertainties, and (importantly) cites references. When looking into this subject, I suggest the reader beware of books or articles that are primarily "expert opinion" with no, or very little, reference to actual data.

The only reasons I didn't give 5 stars are: a) I would have liked it if the book could have covered the 2007 edition of IPCC report (maybe they will update it ?), and b) The book has a somewhat dry, academic style which probably will not make it very popular with a mass audience, hence limiting it's impact. At least it's short, though. Perhaps when they update it they can bring in a science writer to improve the style.
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Dessler and Parson have provided a welcome contribution on the subject of climate change. It is, of course, a nightmare for the climate change denial folks. Clearly written and making the critical distinction between science and political decision making, the authors lay out the case for a rapid response to a looming disaster. The book provides a counter balance for the nonsense being spewed forth by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Joanne Nova and Senator Orrin Hatch. It will not change the minds of politicians whose campaigns are funded by the energy industry, but it should sway the opinion of a literate public with its compelling arguments: 'We have met the enemy and he is us.'
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Format: Paperback
This is a good very good review of science and policy of Global Climate Change without bias esotheric science or paragraphs going nowhere.

Recomended to the reader who wants to make up their own mind. The book will find a use in introductory survey coures in High School and College.

More graphs and diagrams would have been helpful, although they are available to those scanning the internet.
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I was disappointed in the writing. The book reads like a scientific treatise. The authors write, "This tangling of positive with normative claims, and of explicit arguments with unstated assumptions, obstructs reasoned deliberations on public policy." (p. 22.) OK. No doubt this is true. It borders on common sense and needs to be said. The problem is that, for the non-scientific person to whom this book is addressed, such language obstructs understanding. We don't talk that way. I gather that the authors are keen to be as objective and sound in their discussion as possible. Certainly this is commendable. Do they need to speak in these kinds of terms in order to be objective? Do they need to speak in such language in order to convey these basic concepts? Not to the degree they have done so. I give the book only four stars because I was anxious to learn more about this topic, and I was annoyed when an "accessible primer" is made unnecessarily difficult. I'm not planning in taking a degree in the subject.
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