Honestly, I was quite surprised by this book. When I first saw it, I wasn’t really expecting that much. Perhaps it was due to my own impressions, but I just always associate the “For Dummies” series with books on how to use computers–not comprehensive introductions to scientific and political issues.
That said, Global Warming For Dummies is a solid introduction to global warming. The book looks at the science behind global warming, the causes, and potential solutions. Unlike much of what is seen in the media, there is no attempt to “balance” the discussion on global warming and the book gives no space to the arguments of so-called “skeptics” who doubt the reality of global warming, instead offering only a list of ten common arguments cited by skeptics and explanations why those arguments are wrong.
One of the major strengths of the book is that presents the science on global warming in an easy to understand format, even for those without strong science backgrounds. The science in the book is based on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (http://www.ipcc.ch/), which is a synthesis of all current science on global warming. It is on this basis that the book rejects the arguments of global warming skeptics, as the IPCC has stated that there is a 95% certainty that humans are causing global warming. The book looks at causes of global warming, explains greenhouses gasses, looks at sources of emissions, and examines other related topics. This is all presented in a clear and concise manner, with ample illustrations to help reinforce and explain the key points.
Along with the discussion of the science and an explanation of the problem of global warming, the book spends a fair amount of time looking at the potential solutions. It discusses global attempts to address the problem–for example the Kyoto Protocol–as well as efforts made by individual countries or groups of countries (i.e. the European Union). It also talks about efforts undertaken by mayors and governors. Global Warming for Dummies looks at political solutions–such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade programs–as well as technological solutions that can be used to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Throughout these discussions, the book is critical where it needs to be and emphasizes the need–as argued by the IPCC–for substantial cuts to emissions.
In addition to the focus on large-scale emissions, the book includes a wealth of information on individual actions that can be taken to lessen global warming. Much of this focuses on the usual–reducing the amount we drive, conserving energy, and other common ideas–but there is also the occasional surprise, such as encouraging people to consume less meat (a major contributor to deforestation and methane emissions). It includes this without over-emphasizing individual ways of addressing global warming, which is a common trap that many environmental books fall into.
Overall, this is one of the more readable introductions to the topic of global warming. Global Warming for Dummies succeeds in making complex science easy to understand, inspires people to take further action, and provides a number of annotated lists of additional resources.
Elizabeth May and Zoe Caron, Global Warming For Dummies, (For Dummies, 2008).