Saturday, October 07, 2006

Book Review: The Atlas of Climate Change

Climate change: a problem that is far more abstract that we would like.

This is certainly the case for those of us in the developed world who dont live on the produce of the land, who dont live by the sea and who know so little of our natural environment that even drastic ecological changes can pass us by.

One possible way to remove this perception of the abstract is to explore in detail where the droughts, the flooding and the biodiversity loss is going to be lost.

The atlas of climate change is devided into 7 sections covering; the signs of change, forcing change (geek for changes in the greenhouse effect), driving climate change (emmissions from transport), expected consequences, responding to climate change, commiting to soloutions (personal and public action) and climate change data.

Very much a reference work I cant see to many people sitting down and reading this from cover to cover. It is however a very useful and accesible reference work. If you are a climate activist wishing to make your point about the importance of engaging china in the dialogue, or a educator trying to get across the injustice of UK emmissions, or even a policy maker trying to make country by country comparisions this is a great place to start.

The atlas does a good job of combining detailed maps and images with larger trends: on one page we are shown how rising sea levels will affect various regions of the globe by 2100, ranging from over 90 million being inundated in india and pakistan to fewer than a million in east africa; on another page we are shown one of the instances of inundation, a 1m rise in sea level could devestate the nile delta and destroy 15% of egypts arible land.

Beyond the maps a good general introduction is given to the basics of climate change and the whole emissions situation is clarified. One point that I found perticularly interesting was that only 53% of post 1750 GHG emmisions where co2 and that heating and electricity only currently constitutes 21% of co2 emissions, i had always thought that co2 from power generation would be THE primary cause of climate change, trends are pushing in that direction but it is infact only one of many contributors, the scale of emmissions from landuse change and agriculture is really significant.

For anyone interested in climate change and wanting to understand our challenge better I can really recomend this book. I intend to keep this by my side, every time I write anything about energy use and trends this will be my first port of call to see if a more detailed look would be useful.

The Atlas of Climate Change is writen/researched by Kirstin Dow, Associate Prof. University of South Carolina and Thomas E Downing, director SEI in Oxford.

Published by Earthscan ISBN: 1-84407-376-9

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