BooksPath Reviews


Globalisation

Posted in Politics by bookspath on February 28, 2007

By: Steger, Manfred B.                                             
Published By:
Oxford University Press

Globalization

Globalization’ has become the buzz-word of our time. A growing number of scholars and political activists have invoked the term to describe a variety of changing economic, political, cultural, ideological, and environmental processes that are alleged to have accelerated in the last few decades. Rather than forcing such a complex social phenomenon into a single conceptual framework, Manfred Steger presents globalization in plain, readable English as a multifaceted process encompassing global, regional, and local aspects of social life. In addition to explaining the various dimensions of globalization, the author explores whether globalization should be considered a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing – a question that has been hotly debated in classrooms, boardrooms, and on the streets.

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Hell and High Water

Posted in Social Science by bookspath on February 28, 2007
Hell and High Water

By: Romm, Joe
Published By: HarperCollins 

Global warming is the story of the twenty-first century. It is the most serious issue facing the future of humankind, and American energy and environmental policy is driving the whole world down the path of global catastrophe. Hell and High Water is nothing less than a wake-up call to the country. It is a searing critique of American environmental and energy policy and a passionate call to action by a writer with a unique command of the science and politics of climate change.

We have ten years, at most, to start making sharp cuts to our greenhouse gas emissions or we will face catastrophic consequences. The good news is that there is something we can do—but only if the leadership of the U.S. government acts immediately and asserts its influence on the rest of the world—in particular such emerging powers as China and India—to join an international effort to stop global warming.

Joseph Romm, an expert in the science, business, and politics of climate change, lays out a plan of action that involves:

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by midcentury
  • adopting a California-style energy-efficiency effort nationwide
  • embracing high-mileage, advanced ”hybrid” cars that can run on both electricity and biofuels

Unfortunately, the required government policies and spending are strongly opposed by conservatives, who have blocked serious action on climate change and continue to publicly deny the dire warnings of scientists. Never before has there been such a sharp divergence between what top scientists know and what policymakers, the general public, and the media believe. And, sadly, never has so much been at stake.

Romm, who ran the largest program in the world that was concentrated on climate solutions, offers an authoritative dissection of this disastrous policy. Hell and High Water goes beyond ideological rhetoric to offer pragmatic solutions to avert the threat of global warming—solutions that must be taken seriously by every American.

The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts even to small nudges.

—Wallace Broecker, climate scientist, 1995

The ongoing Arctic warming corresponds to the predictions of the more pessimistic climate models. By extension, the pessimistic scenarios of climate change can be expected to unfold in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.

—Louis Fortier, climate scientist, June 2006

We are on the brink of taking the biggest gamble in human history, one that, if we lose, will transform the lives of the next fifty generations. I will not focus here on the history of how we came to our current understanding of global warming or on the thousands of brilliant scientists whose work brings us this knowledge. That story has been well told already, particularly by Spencer Weart, a physicist and historian, who has put on the web his extensive “hypertext history of how scientists came to (partly) understand what people are doing to cause climate change.”

Similarly, I will not lay out more than briefly the scientific underpinnings for our understanding of global warming or of the extensive and conclusive evidence that climate change is occurring. The case has been made again and again by hundreds of top scientists who have done research and analysis for prestigious bodies such as the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences, and the Arctic Council, the nations that border the Arctic Circle, including ours, in its December 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

How strong is the scientific consensus? Back in 2001, President George W. Bush asked the National Academy of Sciences for a report on climate change and on the conclusions of the IPCC assessments on climate change. The eleven-member blue-ribbon panel, which included experts previously skeptical about global warming, concluded: Temperatures are rising because of human activities; the scientific community agrees that most of the rise in the last half-century is likely due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere; and “the stated degree of confidence in the IPCC assessment is higher today than it was 10, or even 5 years ago.”

Back in 2001, Donald Kennedy, Science editor in chief and president emeritus of Stanford University, commented on the steady stream of peer-reviewed reports and articles documenting global climate change appearing in his and other journals: “Consensus as strong as the one that has developed around this topic is rare in science.” And in December 2004, Science published the results of an analysis of nearly a thousand scientific studies appearing in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003. The conclusion:

This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of other professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.

The strong consensus has grown even stronger because the case has grown even stronger. “Evidence of global warming became so overwhelming in 2004 that now the question is: What can we do about it?” That was Discover magazine in its January 2005 issue, which called the ever-strengthening case for climate change the top science story of the year.

“There can no longer be genuine doubt that human-made gases are the dominant cause of observed warming,” explained James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in April 2005. Hansen led a team of scientists that made “precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years,” which revealed that the earth is absorbing far more heat than it is emitting into space, confirming what earlier computer models had shown about warming. Hansen called this energy imbalance the “smoking gun” of climate change.

In June 2005 the national science academies of the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement on climate change urging the nations of the world to take prompt action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So far, the world has not listened. Worse, in December 2005, the U.S. government shamelessly blocked the world from acting at an international conference in Montreal that was aimed at developing the next steps for action on climate change.

If you are interested in understanding the detailed evidence for global warming and climate science, if you want to know the answer to key questions such as “How do we know that recent carbon dioxide increases are due to human activities?” or “How do we know that an increase in solar activity is not the cause of recent planetary warming?” bookmark the website http://www.realclimate.org. This site, run by climate experts, answers these and other questions and discusses the latest findings.

My focus instead is the question of the century: Do we humans have the political will to stop the great ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica from melting . . . to stop Hell and High Water?

Punching the Climate Beast

Whether human activity will trigger catastrophic climate change depends on two factors: how much heat-trapping, climate-altering greenhouse gases we pour into the atmosphere, and how the climate system responds to those gases. Recent evidence indicates the climate is more sensitive than had been widely thought. Louis Fortier, Canada Research chair on the Response of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change at Université Laval, echoed the thinking of many climate scientists when he said at a June 15, 2006, transatlantic conference that we should now expect the more “pessimistic scenarios” of climate change. Let’s try to understand why.

The greenhouse effect has made the life we know possible. The basic physics is straightforward. Our sun pours out intense amounts of visible light, along with radiation, across the electromagnetic spectrum, including ultraviolet and infrared. The sun’s peak intensity is in visible light. Of the solar energy hitting the top of the atmosphere, about 30 percent . . .
 

 

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Islam after Communism

Posted in Religious by bookspath on February 28, 2007
Islam after Communism

By: Khalid, Adeeb
Published By: University of California Press

Adeeb Khalid combines insights from the study of both Islam and Soviet history in this sophisticated analysis of the ways that Muslim societies in Central Asia have been transformed by the Soviet presence in the region. Arguing that the utopian Bolshevik project of remaking the world featured a sustained assault on Islam that destroyed patterns of Islamic learning and thoroughly de-Islamized public life, Khalid demonstrates that Islam became synonymous with tradition and was subordinated to powerful ethnonational identities that crystallized during the Soviet period. He shows how this legacy endures today and how, for the vast majority of the population, a return to Islam means the recovery of traditions destroyed under Communism. “Islam after Communism” reasons that the fear of a rampant radical Islam that dominates both Western thought and many of Central Asia’s governments should be tempered by an understanding of the politics of antiterrorism, which allows governments to justify their own authoritarian policies by casting all opposition as extremist.Comparing the secularization of Islam in Central Asia to experiences in Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, and other secular Muslim states, the author lays the groundwork for a nuanced and well-informed discussion of the forces at work in this crucial region.

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The Five Faces Of Genius

Posted in Uncategorized by bookspath on February 28, 2007

The Five Faces of Genius

By: Moser-Wellman, Annette
Published By: Penguin Group Inc.

What do Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ray Kroc, the man who created the McDonald’s franchise enterprise, have in common? They have all mastered the skills of creative genius-essential tools in today’s business climate. Having researched the lives and techniques of past and present geniuses for this inspiring and provocative new handbook, Annette Moser-Wellman helps workers at all levels build and refine their working styles. These qualities of creativity-drawn from the the realms of art, science, as well as business-make up the five distinct “faces”: Seer-the power to image Observer-the power to notice details Alchemist-the power to make connections Fool-the power to celebrate weakness Sage-the power to simplify Moser-Wellman shows how we can utilize these creative thinking strategies and flourish in the workplace.

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Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths: by Karen Armstrong

Posted in Uncategorized by bookspath on February 27, 2007

Book Description:

Jerusalem, the Holy City, venerated for centuries by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike; no other city has remained the center of such conflict for so long. Now Karen Armstrong, author of the best-selling and widely acclaimed A History of God, explains how this came to be as she unravels the meaning of a “holy city” and shows how Jerusalem has become deeply rooted in the identities of all three religions of Abraham.

 Review by:  Jane DC

All Sides of the Story

In books concerning hot conflicts like the Middle East, it is commonplace to cover only part of the story or to concentrate on one set of events more so than others. This is understandable of course since most people with adequate interest in a topic typically have made up their minds and favor one of the conflicting sides. Not so with this book. I read this book with a critical eye, begging to find any evidence that the author is partial to anyone anyone, but in all of the 430 pages I could not find a single biased reference nor any significant omissions. By writing this wonderful comprehensive and well-researched history of Jerusalem, Karen Armstrong has done all of us concerned about the city a great favor. Throughout the 5000-year history of the city, this book describes in an unbiased tone the enormously interesting history of this hotly contested city. Many remarkable and little-known facts are can be found here. For example, I was surprised to learn that the history of Jerusalem extended for 2000 years before King David, its purported “founder”. The book covers all the different eras of the city: the Canaanite, Egyptian, Israelite, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Muslim, and Crusader eras. The last two chapters focus on the 20th century history of the city. Though the author was a former catholic nun, she displays no bias whatsoever towards Christianity. The book displays the history of the city equally from the points of view of all three religious groups that care about it: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Thus the book dwells in detail about the extreme agony of the Jews for their loss of the city and their being forbidden to enter it during Byzantine Roman rule. The book also illustrates the relative tolerance of early Islam and how Jews for the first time were allowed to return to Jerusalem under Islamic rule and coexist in peace with Christians and Muslims. If the author displays a bias against anyone, it is against extremists from all religions who are today fanning the flames of conflict and threatening the peace of the city. The book is a definite page-turner, packed full of information, and well worth a read if you cared about understanding the “whys” and the “how comes” behind the daily headlines.

ISBN: 0345391683

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The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe

Posted in Uncategorized by bookspath on February 26, 2007

 Roger Penrose

 

Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 9, 2007)

 ISBN-10: 0679776311

 

If Albert Einstein were alive, he would have a copy of The Road to Reality on his bookshelf. So would Isaac Newton. This may be the most complete mathematical explanation of the universe yet published, and Roger Penrose richly deserves the accolades he will receive for it. That said, let us be perfectly clear: this is not an easy book to read. The number of people in the world who can understand everything in it could probably take a taxi together to Penrose’s next lecture. Still, math-friendly readers looking for a substantial and possibly even thrillingly difficult intellectual experience should pick up a copy (carefully–it’s over a thousand pages long and weighs nearly 4 pounds) and start at the beginning, where Penrose sets out his purpose: to describe “the search for the underlying principles that govern the behavior of our universe.” Beginning with the deceptively simple geometry of Pythagoras and the Greeks, Penrose guides readers through the fundamentals–the incontrovertible bricks that hold up the fanciful mathematical structures of later chapters. From such theoretical delights as complex-number calculus, Riemann surfaces, and Clifford bundles, the tour takes us quickly on to the nature of spacetime. The bulk of the book is then devoted to quantum physics, cosmological theories (including Penrose’s favored ideas about string theory and universal inflation), and what we know about how the universe is held together. For physicists, mathematicians, and advanced students, The Road to Reality is an essential field guide to the universe. For enthusiastic amateurs, the book is a project to tackle a bit at a time, one with unimaginable intellectual rewards.

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