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The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate

Second edition of the highly acclaimed textbook, updated to reflect the rapid movement of events related to climate change
Provides an integrated overview of the basics of climate change and atmospheric radiation, accessible to readers without a scientific background
Discusses the interaction of science and politics, explains why policy arguments are framed in scientific terms, and helps students evaluate conflicting political claims and assess their credibility

By: Andrew E Dessler (Author), Edward A Parson (Author)

190 pages, no illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Feb 2010 | Edition: 2 | #184368 | ISBN-13: 9780521737401
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £29.99 $38/€36 approx

About this book

The second edition of Dessler and Parson's acclaimed book provides an integrated treatment of the science, technology, economics, policy, and politics of climate change. Aimed at the educated non-specialist, and at courses in environmental policy or climate change, The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change clearly lays out the scientific foundations of climate change, the issues in current policy debates, and the interactions between science and politics that make the climate change debate so contentious and confusing.

This new edition is brought completely up to date to reflect the rapid movement of events related to climate change. In addition, all sections have been improved, in particular a more thorough primer on the basic science of climate change is included. The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change also now integrates the discussion of contrarian claims with the discussion of current scientific knowledge; extends the discussion of cost and benefit estimates; and provides an improved glossary.

Please note that the publisher has cancelled plans for a hardback version.

"This timely, informative and well-written book does an excellent job of explaining, in language accessible to everyone, the scientific basis for our current understanding of global warming and climate change, as well as societal implications and the political barriers to sound, rational policy. Its co-authors are well recognized experts in science and in public policy. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of this complex issue – what the debate is all about – and as a core textbook for introductory courses on the environment, climate change, or public policy."
– Neal Lane, Former Science Advisor to President Clinton and former Director of the US National Science Foundation

"As the scientific evidence on human induced climate change becomes stronger and more widely accepted, voices that question it appear to get louder and seemingly more coordinated. In a complex area such as climate change, politics inevitably runs into conflict with the domain of science. This book is a timely analysis of the scientific evidence of climate change as well as the political forces that question its full acceptance. Dessler and Parson have produced a remarkable piece of work that is relevant for the scientific community in understanding the political implications of their work and for politicians and the public at large to understand not only the overwhelming scientific evidence that has emerged in recent years, but also the remaining uncertainties that need to be addressed in future scientific endeavor. This feature alone and the simple and readable manner in which the book is written make it essential reading for scientists as well as the concerned public at large."
– R. K. Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India

"[...] there is a real need for a comprehensive book on climate change [...] The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change is it. It does exactly what the title and subtitle promise, providing insights into the causes and effects of the contributing meteorological phenomena and into why it has been so hard to get consensus among governments [...] copies should be shipped to anyone who doubts the reality of climate change, starting with presidents in denial."
New Scientist

"[...] requires no specialised knowledge, but is accessible to any educated general reader who wants to make more sense of the climate change debate. It also sheds light on how science is used in policy debates."
The Chemical Engineer

"Excellent overview of an increasingly critical issue."
Future Survey

"Each of the key aspects of global climate change is covered, with up-to-date and well-referenced information throughout. Its impressive breadth and the provision of succinct overviews of source material in the further reading sections of each chapter mean that teachers, lecturers and researchers will all find this book a useful starting point for in-depth study. There are now numerous taught masters courses on 'global change issues', and this book constitutes a must-have addition to their reading lists. [...] read the book in its entirety – it is well worth it. [...] [This book] is an excellent attempt at deconstructing the confusion that surrounds the climate-change debate. This reviewer has been waiting some time for a book such as this to appear. [...] The science and politics of climate change are brought together quite seamlessly, [...] Dessler and Parson's book is a must for those who want to move beyond the rhetoric and understand the relationship between climate science policy, and also for those seeking an interdisciplinary outlook on the management of global environmental issues. [...] This book will be most useful to undergraduates and post-graduates in the fields of environmental science, sustainability and international politics. Each of the key aspects of global climate change is covered, with up-to-date and well referenced information throughout. its impressive breadth and the provision of succinct overviews of source material in the further reading sections of each chapter mean that teachers will all find this book a useful starting point for in-depth study. [...] as a primer that brings together global climate change science and politics it succeeds very well indeed."
The Times Higher Education Supplement

"This is an excellent way into the subject for the beginner [...] one of the most lucid and readable introductory accounts of the topic that has been published in some while. As such it should be seen as a 'must-buy' and an essential addition to the library."
TENews

"I found the book quite well written, with a good explanation of a suitable range of relevant scientific, 'political' and economic concepts [...] I believe it is a good candidate for a primer for mulitdisciplinary classes devoted to climate policy."
– Randall M. Wigle, Wilfrid Laurier University

"This is a book which all scientists and the educated general public should read and reflect upon before it is too late to halt the apparently inevitable progress to Armageddon."
Chromatographia

"[...] provides perhaps the most comprehensive and comprehensible analysis of the debates around climate change and is likely to become a foundational text for students, scholars, policymakers, and citizens seeking clarity on this topic. The scholarly value of The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change is indisputable. Dessler and Parson independently possess significant authority on both the science and the politics of climate change. Their treatment of the subject illustrates the complexity of the problem with remarkable ease and clarity. By juxtaposing the scientific and the political processes, they enrich the academic literature which has traditionally separated the two and open up new avenues for exploring policy solutions. Scientists will find value in the discussion of how their work is used by policymakers. Those knowledgeable about the politics of climate change will find value in the discussion of the science."
Global Environmental Politics

"[...] a useful compendium of the current debates in the science and politics of climate change [...] succinct and consistent book [...] Ensure[s] fluent reading for non-expert, yet educated, citizens. The book is logically structured and it should become a key reading and teaching source in geography and environmental sciences. It can also be valuable to doctoral students and senior researchers interested in learning about climate change science and politics. Overall it is a book worth having on one's shelf."
Environmental Sciences

"As more and more extreme weather events around the globe are being associated with climate change, it is sometimes difficult to be able to see the wood for the trees, but this book takes the reader very clearly through the 'maze' of claims and counter-claims. [...] if only government leaders would read, digest and follow up some of the suggestions in the last chapter, there would be optimism that the problem can be overcome. As always with Cambridge University Press, the book, which is illustrated with diagrams, charts and boxes, is impeccably produced, and is an absolute 'must' for every reader of this journal."
International Journal of Meteorology

"Written by an atmospheric scientist and a law professor with extensive public policy experience, the book effectively tackles the rough-and-tumble intersection of science and policy that has led to confusion and inaction [...] The scholarly value of [the book] is indisputable. Dessler and Parson independently possess significant authority on both the science and the politics of climate change. Their treatment of the subject illustrates the complexity of the problem with remarkable ease and clarity [...] the carefully thought-through recommendations make this book critical reading for policymakers [...] considering action on the issue."
– Maria Ivanova, College of William and Mary

"Each of the key aspects of global climate change is covered, with up-to-date and well-referenced information throughout. Its impressive breadth and the provision of succinct overviews of source material in the further reading sections of each chapter mean that teachers, lecturers and researchers will all find this book a useful starting point for in-depth study."
– David Reay, Edinburgh University

"[...] both insightful and engaging [...] the book is also highly readable and well suited to reach a wide audience. That's good, because the gaps in understanding between scientists, policy makers, journalists, and the public remain a major barrier to the adoption of sensible responses to the problem. Dessler and Parson's book will help because it provides us with a sound and thoughtful guide to the climate change debate. [...] It explains scientific and policy debates, discusses areas of knowledge and uncertainty regarding climate change, and offers possible policy options."
– American Meteorological Society


Contents

1. Global climate change: a new type of environmental problem
2. Science, politics, and science in politics
3. Climate change: present scientific knowledge and uncertainties
4. The climate change policy debate: impacts and potential responses
5. The present impasse and steps forward

Glossary
Appendices
Bibliography
Index


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Biography

Andrew Dessler is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard in 1994. He did postdoctoral work at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (1994-1996) and then spent nine years on the research faculty of the University of Maryland (1996-2005). In 2000, he worked as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he collaborated with Ted Parson. Dessler's academic publications include one other book: The Chemistry and Physics of Stratospheric Ozone (Academic Press, 2000). He has also published extensively in the scientific literature on stratospheric ozone depletion and the physics of climate.

Edward Parson is Joseph L. Sax Collegiate Professor of Law and Professor of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. His research examines international environmental policy, the role of science and technology in public policy, and the political economy of regulation. Parson's book, Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy (Oxford University Press, 2003), won the 2004 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award of the International Studies Association. His academic articles have been published in Science, Climatic Change, Issues in Science and Technology, the Journal of Economic Literature, and the Annual Review of Energy and the Environment. Parson has led and served on several senior advisory committees for the U.S. National Research Council and U.S. Global Change Research Program, and has worked and consulted for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, the United Nations Environment Program, the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, the Privy Council Office of the Government of Canada, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he collaborated with Andrew Dessler. In 2005, he was appointed to the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Parson spent twelve years on the faculty of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He holds degrees in Physics from the University of Toronto and in Management Science from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard.

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