BooksPath Reviews


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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The Cost Of Competence: Why Inequality Causes Depression, Eating Disorders, and Illness in Women

Posted in Social Science by bookspath on February 25, 2007

Book Description:

Since the advent of the women’s movement, women have made unprecedented gains in almost every field, from politics to the professions. Paradoxically, doctors and mental health professionals have also seen a staggering increase in the numbers of young women suffering from an epidemic of depression, eating disorders, and other physical and psychological problems.

In Dying to Win, authors Brett Silverstein and Deborah Perlick argue that rather than simply labeling individual women as, say, anorexic or depressed, it is time to look harder at the widespread prejudices within our society and child-rearing practices that lead thousands of young women to equate thinness with competence and success, and feminity with failure. They argue that it is wrong to continue to treat depression, anxiety, anorexia and bulimia as separate disorders in young women when they are really part of a single syndrome. Furthermore, their fascinating research into the lives of forty prominent women from Elizabeth I to Eleanor Roosevelt show that these symptoms have been disrupting the lives of bright, ambitious women not for decades, but for centuries. Drawing on all the latest findings, rare historical research, cross-cultural comparisons, and their own study of over 2,000 contemporary women attending high schools and colleges, the authors present powerful new evidence to support the existence of a syndrome they call anxious somatic depression.

Their investigation shows that the first symptoms usually surface in adolescence, most often in young women who aspire to excel academically and professionally. Many of the affected women grew up feeling that their parents valued sons over daughters. They identified intellectually with their successful fathers, not with their traditional homemaker mothers. Disordered eating is one way of rejecting the feminine bodies they perceive as barriers to achievement and recognition. Silverstein and Perlick uncover medical descriptions matching their diagnosis in Hippocratic texts from the fourth century B.C., in anthropological studies of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and in case studies of many noted psychologists and psychiatrists, including the “hysteric” patients Freud used to develop his theories on psychoanalysis.

They have also discovered that statistics on disordered eating, depression, and a host of other symptoms soared in eras in which women’s opportunites grew–particularly the 1920s, when record numbers of women entered college and the workforce, the boyish silhouette of the flapper became the feminine ideal, and anorexia became epidemic, and again from the 1970s to the present day. The authors show that identifying this devastating syndrome is a first step toward its prevention and cure. Dying to Win presents an urgent message to parents, educators, policymakers, and the medical community on the crucial importance of providing young women with equal opportunity, and equal respect.

About the Authors:

Brett Silverstein is Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, City College of New York, and the author of Fed Up. Deborah Perlick is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College.

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to your Mate

Posted in Social Science by bookspath on February 25, 2007

Author: Gary Chapman
ISBN-10: 1881273156

Comments By: Al-Hasan

The five love languages is one of those books that help you to understand the people you love in your life. The author attempts to show the reader how to understand and speak the language of love. Not in the way you understand it, but in the way the other person understands it.

The five languages Chapman refers to are “Words of Affirmation”, “Quality Time”, “Receiving Gifts”, “Acts of Service”, and “Physical Touch”. These are the primary languages (principles) your spouse speaks. The idea is to figure out which of those you need to do more of to make your significant other happy and fall back in love with you

The author relates insightful examples from his and other people’s realities in each principle to explain his premise which makes the book easy and friendly to follow. The book primarily focuses on the husband-wife relationship, but the 5 principles Chapman mentions could be applied in understanding relationships with parents, friends, co-workers, children and anyone who you come in contact with.

It is an insightful book, but it does go on a bit. The author could have mentioned the principles and explained what they are and how to apply them and end it, but I feel it was not going to end.

The are many beneficial points that the author expresses, however there are some flaws; near the end of the book he stipulates that even if the husband hates his wife she should approach him for intimate relationship because the husband might fall in the category of ‘’Physical Touch’’. This is an erroneous, unrealistic and flawed assertion. He even tries to ‘holify’ it by quoting Jesus. Apart from that, it’s a good read.