Global Warming for Dummies

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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 (, 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).


Author: mediamouse

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8 thoughts on “Global Warming for Dummies”

  1. If you don’t read this book you will be uninformed. Read it and be misinformed.

    Climate scientists got it wrong because they are unaware of the science of Feedback Control. There is no academic requirement for them to learn about Control Theory. With knowledge of Feedback Control it is trivial to prove, using temperature data that is archived in Antarctic ice cores from the last and previous glacial periods, that net positive feedback from temperature does not exist in earth’s climate. Without net positive feedback, the climate models do not predict significant global warming. (Zero feedback results in 1.2°C from doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide per p631 of ch8 of IPCC AR4. This prediction is probably still high because of faulty cloud parameterization etc.). Unless overwhelmed by other factors the expected temperature increase from doubling atmospheric CO2 is less than a degree which would be insignificant.

  2. @Dan: Do you have a citation for this in a credible, peer-reviewed scientific source? And no, your website or comments on other global warming articles on the Internet do not count.

    For folks interested in finding out more about the commentor’s argument, or “skepticism” on global warming, see:

    It does an excellent job of debunking common myths touted by these folks on forums and blog comments across the internet.

  3. Since the Climate Science community is unaware of Control Theory there is no one there that is qualified to review this issue. Other venues are being pursued.

    That link will get you to one alarmist’s assertions (Coby Beck, AI Engineer). It also gives responses (mostly negative) to Coby’s assertions. To see what a Climate Scientist has to say, check out

  4. @Dan: So, let me get this straight… We’re supposed to believe that this theory that you point to is so profound that it can challenge the scientific consensus on global warming, yet it hasn’t been explored in any credible sources? Give me a break.

  5. It should be called Control Engineering since it is successfully applied in multiple common devices such as automobile cruise control, aircraft autopilots, rocket guidance systems, etc. Control Theory can also be applied to earth’s climate. Accepted temperature data determined from ice-core proxies from the last and previous glacial periods show century or longer temperature up trends followed by century or longer down trends and vice versa. Control Theory requires that this could only happen if there is no significant net positive feedback from average global temperature in earth’s climate.

    You may or may not be aware that the so-called scientific consensus is collapsing. The collapse is likely because, for several years now, the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues to increase while the average global temperature has not. I doubt that anyone in the climate science community has realized that they have been unaware of applicable science.

    Why hasn’t Control Theory been applied to climate before? I am not sure but offer this as a possibility. The climate science community is unaware of Control Theory and the engineering community that knows about Control Theory has not looked at climate. I didn’t believe anybody about AGW and have spent thousands of hours researching the subject to find the truth. I learned Control Theory in engineering grad school years ago but only recently became convinced that it could be applied to earth’s climate.

  6. @Dan: Give me a break. The consensus is not “collapsing.” Aside from being in the IPCC report, see:

    But instead, you want folks to believe that somehow, they are all wrong. Not only that, but you–who seems to spend the majority of your time posting the same incoherent comments over and over on blogs about global warming–are right?

    I also found your exchange on another blog to be quite revealing:

    Maybe if your knowledge of climate science is so good and everyone else is wrong, you should spend your time getting this theory published in an actual scientific journal rather than in the comments sections on blogs across the Internet.

  7. “I didn’t believe anybody about AGW”

    They are just grasping at straws trying to make it look like they understand something when they know they are wrong (or are just being obstinate). No matter how much you argue with someone like this they are never going to get it.

    They are just repeating the same drivel that rightwing pundits, think-tanks, and bloggers repeat day in and day out. Everytime one of their arguments fails, they find a new one, most often disguised by some “psuedo-scientific” language to throw people off.

  8. Absolutely, get the hypothesis, testing and conclusions documented and published. Encourage others to cross-test and verify. Publish. And prove it wrong. In the meantime we gotta go with the theories and laws that seem most likely balanced and right and that urges action. Lots of it. I’m willing to “hedge our bets.”

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