bare feet in the sand

the beauty of nature in a consumer economy


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High Tide on Main Street by John Englander

I read this book based on a recommendation of another blogger and I am so glad I did.  One of the best things about it is the amount of charts, graphs and pictures that are used.  It is particularly helpful when he shows graphs of long periods of times and then blows up the more recent past to show the effects that recent greenhouse gas emissions have had.  I realize that I was already a believer, but it does seem to prove that humans are changing the atmosphere and sea level.

This book has a lot of science in it, but it was still incredibly readable.  I am not someone who enjoys reading science textbooks, or even scientific studies.  John Englander has made the science understandable and easy to digest.  There were plenty of things I wasn’t aware of – like the cycle of ice ages and how we are actually due to start the cooling phase heading toward another ice age.  The sea level is at the high point with less water trapped in ice sheets.  It looks like this started to happen in the past centuries but something (humans) changed the course of history.  (Not to sound too dramatic.)

Did you know?  Sharps Island off Maryland sunk into the Chesapeake Bay in 1962?  Apparently due to sea level rise, erosion and sinking land.  Holland Island, also in the Chesapeake, disappeared in 2010.  Or how about this?  “At our current rate of carbon emissions, we will increase carbon dioxide levels… roughly 20,000 times faster than at any time in the last 540 million years.  Temperatures… are now rising about 55 times faster than they did even during the most recent cycle of glacial melting.”

Englander also talks about the impacts of sea level rise.  Here is a website that models sea level rise on the coastline of the U.S.: Climate Central.  The NOAA also has one.  He goes through various cities and talks about what they would face and how much of their population would be effected.  It is worth noting that along with changes in shoreline, the water table will rise with sea level and so many inland areas will also be affected.

Here are a couple more links from the book that I thought were interesting:

climatescoreboard.org

skepticalscience.com

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Climate Myths by John J. Berger

I recently read Climate Myths by John J. Berger.  I was hoping to learn more about the science of climate change and what, if any, controversies still exist in the scientific community.  Perhaps my expectations were faulty, but I was sorely disappointed by the book.  The first (and very significant) portion of the book is dedicated to the various organizations that have gone out of their way to dispute climate change and how serious it is.  He mentions organizations that don’t exist anymore, which may be interested to a researcher but seem to have no relevance for me.  What was helpful was his discussion of certain more prominent climate deniers and why their credentials make them less credible than climate scientists who all agree on global warming and its impacts.  However, I didn’t like how far he goes in disparaging some of the organizations, even comparing them to Joseph McCarthy and the anti-communism in the 1950s.

I was disheartened to learn about how the media has helped these organizations and climate deniers by giving them as much air time as the thousands of scientists who agree on the gravity of global warming.  One of Berger’s examples was The Wall Street Journal, and here is an article I found: No Need to Panic About Global Warming.  If you look at the sixteen scientists who signed the articles very few, if any, are on the cutting edge of climate science.

Another reason for my reading the book was to feel more prepared to refute in conversation those who might be on the fence about global warming.  The second (and much shorter) part of the book is helpful for that.  He goes through the various ‘myths’ and why they are flawed.  I was very glad to find out about the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Cimate Change (IPCC) that operates under the U.N.  American politics being what they are, this seems like a good place to point people.

I hope to find books that I feel more ready to recommend.  This one is helpful only if you’re specifically interested in the organizations (past and present) who have made enough of American doubt climate change so that politicians are unable to make any progress.