- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee; 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: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What's the Worst That Could Happen?: A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate Original Edition
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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
Top customer reviews
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One scenario he pays little attention to however is that if AGW turns out to be very real and +400ppm CO2 plus methane release causes catastrophic warming; flooding coastal cities, decimating formerly stable agrarian regions, toppling governments, inflicting massive human casualties, destroying economies etc. Mr. Craven would put this in the worst of all possible outcomes box- doing nothing and getting catastrophe as the payoff. But would that indeed be the worst possible outcome? I think you could argue that human life on this planet might be in need of a very severe course correction. A +5 degree global temperature rise might be just the ticket to do it- the reset button that is missing in this book.
At the very least, reading this book might make you look at some of your strongly held positions, not just on climate change, and force you to think about how you got there.
He has broken the topic down for himself, and developed a very logical way of deciding how to think about climate change and how to entertain our own personal individual decision making on this very important global topic.
I have read a lot about climate change, but this is a very excellent book that has helped me interpret and think about the topic in a much more comprehensive decision-making manner.
I highly recommend this book!!!
SHould be required reading for every high school student.
I have been reading many books on climate change recently by both warmers and skeptics to try to figure out what to believe. It can be very infuriating because most of the books are written as if the authors are so certain about what they are saying (particularly the ones by skeptics, which is kind of ironic). But clearly certainty is not a useful criterion for judging truth. It doesn't matter how certain they all are -- they can't all be right! For every damning quote I found, I was finding plausible rebuttals. Then rebuttals to the rebuttals, and so on.
Eventually I just decided that even if you can decide for yourself what you believe to be the most credible position by sifting through the arguments, there is absolutely no way to convince someone *else* of that if they don't want to be convinced. Greg makes this point in his book -- you can always find some evidence that supports your view if you look hard enough. And people who want to be convinced one way or the other will typically rest their case when they find that evidence. So no matter what you say there's always some rebuttal someone can make to refute the point and you're left just staring at each other saying "oh yeh? well you're wrong", "no you are", "no I'm not" ... and not getting anywhere.
And then I realized that you don't really need to know for sure if the warmers are right. The only question that really matters is are they at least credible? Do they genuinely believe what they say? Do they have evidence to back it up? Are they not idiots? Are there a significant number of them? I find the answers to all those to be yes. So I made my conclusion. The risk is significant enough to warrant taking it seriously.
Then I saw Greg Craven's viral video. His little 2x2 grid encapsulated the same basic idea so charmingly that I was hooked at once. Yes! Finally someone not trying to prove which side is right!! That's exactly how you avoid getting sucked in to the endless quagmire. I bought the book at once just as a way to vote with my wallet for Greg's great video. Didn't get around to reading till months later. Didn't think I really needed to read it after seeing the videos, frankly.
But I'm really glad that I did read it. Greg's perspective is such a breath of fresh air (so to speak) in this stale debate about CO2. Having read a number of books on climate change, and having waded through their scientific (and oft not-so-scientific) claims, for the most part I couldn't see myself recommending any of them individually to my friends. You really need to read them all for yourself to get a good picture, and that's a hard sell to someone who's not that interested in the climate debate to begin with. And even if you do slog through them, I don't think that most of what I read would be useful for someone without a science background. But Greg's book cuts through all that in a really nice way. He comes across as an impartial guide to the landscape (ok somewhat partial, but he acknowledges that and tries really hard not to let it get in the way). He doesn't claim to be any sort of expert, or try tell you what to think. He just guides you through his risk analysis idea that tells you how to decide for yourself.
Anyway, the book is great. It's the first book on climate change I've read that I'd wholeheartedly recommend to anyone. Skeptic or warmer, young or old, interested in climate or not. It doesn't matter. This book is well worth the read for all. I just can't say enough nice things about Greg or his book. Watch the videos. Buy the book. And do as he says, and go ahead and buy one for a friend too. I did. At this price you might as well. This would be a great first book to read as an introduction to the issue, before going on to read books by Hansen, Michaels, Singer, Gelbspan, Schneider. Or you know, if you're not that interested in the details, just read this book and leave it at that.
I saw Greg's video on youtube and liked it. The book gives much more background. Since I am a climatologist, of course I choose column A: immediate action now. I am no calling for more research to assure my job, since I think we know enough. It is time for action. This books helps people to decide, even if they do not believe 99% of all climatologists in the owrld.
Thanks Greg. I will recommend your book to my students.
John van Boxel.