428 pages, no illustrations
Despite the on-going political horse-trading over emissions targets, each piece of new scientific research offers further evidence that no feasible reduction in the emissions can now effectively mitigate the carbon crisis. With limited time for action, an increasingly influential minority of climate scientists are exploring proposals for planned human intervention in the biosphere. A stratospheric veil against the sun; the cultivation of photosynthetic plankton; a fleet of unmanned ships seeding clouds: these are technologies from the radical fringes of climate study, and they are chilling, not least given the risk of hostile use. And yet, we're now at the point where we have no choice but to take them very seriously indeed.
The Planet Remade explores the science, history and politics behind these strategies. It looks at who might want to see geo-engineering techniques used, and why – and why others would be dead set against any such attempts. Throughout history, people have made huge changes to the planet – to the clouds and the soils, to the winds and the seas, to the great cycles of nitrogen and carbon – that are far more profound than often realized, and which can help us to fundamentally rethink our responses to global warming. With sensitivity, insight and expert science, Oliver Morton unpicks the moral implications of our responses to climate change, our fear that people have become a force of nature, and the potential for good in having such power. The Planet Remade is about imagining a world where people take care instead of taking control.
"[A] timely book [...] intriguing and persuasive [...] [It] most successfully balances the difficult business of raising alarm [...] with proposals for the types of action we need to take now"
– Robin McKie
"2015's most important and insightful book about the environment"
– Richard Benson, Books of the Year
"Ambitious [and] enthralling [...] Eloquently, Morton anatomises the idea [of geoengineering] itself"
– Bryan Appleyard
"An important account of cutting-edge research that will fascinate serious readers and demand the attention of policymakers''
– Kirkus (starred review)
"Deeply rooted in history and smartly optimistic about the future, this is-by far-the best book yet on geoengineering"
– David Keith, Harvard University and author
"First and foremost, Morton is a great companion. The sweep of his enquiry is extraordinary, the clarity and accessibility of his writing are exemplary, and the depth of his knowledge is everything you might hope of such a seasoned polymath. If you don't enjoy The Planet Remade [...] I'll be very surprised [...] Highly entertaining and insightful"
– Michael McCarthy
"If you are going to read one book on climate engineering, it should be [this] [...] For a potentially harrowing topic, serendipity and fun abound. Plentiful and erudite footnotes are richly entertaining. [It is] too important to be reserved for experts"
– Jane C.S. Long
"Morton delivers complex information in an easy, conversational style that is a pleasure to follow [...] engaging"
– Robert Mayhew
"Oliver Morton displays here again the usual virtues of his writing, which include a sparkling clarity maintained even when conveying huge complex masses of information, often about topics new to all of us; and then, even more importantly, good judgment [...] All these abilities are now devoted to perhaps the crucial question of our time, the climate, making this simply a Necessary Book, which is also a pleasure to read [...] an excellent way to get oriented to our most pressing environmental problem, and I urge people to read it and ponder its news"
– Kim Stanley Robinson
"One of the most important and provocative books I've read in years. The Planet Remade is essential for policy makers, environmentalists, skeptics and anyone else who prefers their views on climate change to be based on evidence, rather than rhetoric"
– Hari Kunzru
"Written with the grace and clarity its subject demands, The Planet Remade offers just what the issue of climate change needs: fresh thinking about what can be done, based on deep respect for the planet, the science, and the concerns of people with differing points of view. It's an enriching addition to the literature of possible worlds"
– Marek Kohn
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Oliver Morton is Briefings Editor of the Economist, having formerly been Chief News Editor of Nature and Editor-in-Chief of Wired. He is the author of Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World and Eating the Sun: How Light Powers the Planet and has written for many publications, including Nature, Independent, National Geographic, the New Yorker, Newsweek, Prospect, and Wired. Asteroid 10716 Olivermorton is named for him.