Do you know the difference between the terms "climate change" and "global warming? Which of these is more ominous? They are often used interchangeably, with "climate change" somehow seeming more politically correct. Perhaps it's because "climate change" is a more natural, slow moving, and benign process (it's happened to the Earth before with ice ages); not something we have to act on immediately. The distinction is now clear, thanks to author Sneed B. Collard III and his book Global Warming: A Personal Guide to Causes and Solutions.
"The terms... do not mean the same thing... The two terms are closely related because it is global warming that is causing the climate changes we are so worried about. In fact, increasing temperatures alone are not our primary concern. It's the many changes in weather and climate that those temperatures trigger."
In this highly readable, intelligent treatment of a very complex problem, Collard lays out the dangers of ignoring, at our peril, the human contribution to global warming:
"Between the early 1700s and the year 2005, carbon dioxide levels increased about 36 percent -- 280 parts per million (ppm) to 380 ppm -- the highest by for in the last 650,000 years. As our appetite for fuel and energy grows, we are dumping more and more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere every year. The higher temperatures these gases create are already unleashing a series of calamities across the planet."
Did you know (I didn't) that in 2007 a new ice-free shipping channel opened up in the Arctic Ocean that had never before existed? Or that in 2006 Lohachara Island, between Bangladesh and India, home to 10,000 people, received the dubious distinction of being the first island washed off the face of the earth by rising seas?
But it doesn't have to be scary gloom and doom. If we read the handwriting on the wall, Collard says, "Global warming is spurring changes in society that will lead to better ways of doing things and a safer, healthier planet." And he gives some wonderful examples of "green" changes from the generation of clean energy, to becoming less dependent on cars, to redesigning cities and making personal decisions about conserving energy and reigning in material consumption. (That last one is really tough!) For the people who have a vested interest in the status quo, the message is clear. Live long enough and you'll find out. Throughout history people who refuse to believe what scientists have said, were proven wrong. We humans need to learn to be more proactive.
Global Warming is written for teenagers but adults, who don't want to read an enormous tome on the subject, will find it to be a succinct, illuminating and painless way to become informed on this most important subject.
Here's a stellar review reprinted from Booklist.