As a researcher working in the field of atmospheric and climate science, nothing gave me more pleasure than the recent awareness and interest among general public about the climate crisis in front of us. It was indeed very frustrating to see the work of fellow researchers going down the drain because nobody apparently cares. It doesn’t matter how important or how serious the results are, it seems that nobody else is concerned about the state of the planet. General public doesn’t care; of course, they have more important and relevant issues to take care of, instead of addressing climate change which anyhow can wait. When we talk about climate, our discussion involves large time scales extending from hundreds to thousands of years. This creates an impression on general mind that climate issues are far off and their resolution can wait.
This is the biggest problem with society that it simply doesn’t care. Equally appalling is the sight of even governments not showing any interest or concern to tackle the crisis. Yes, norms were there, but there was slackness in their implementation. This attitude is perhaps the biggest mistake made in the past. The rules and regulations were there, steps were taken but not at a war footing. This is astounding because we have already started witnessing the effects of climate change in the form of extreme weather, pollution episodes, seasonal cycle and rainfall.
I think that the most probable reason for this indifference among general public towards climate issues is mostly due to lack of awareness and knowledge. There are three main reasons — first as mentioned, the time scales involved suggest that the change/effect is still far off and any necessary action can wait. Second, although it is a collective effort that is demanded with individual contribution from each one of us, yet overall the tendency is to pass the burden on to somebody else. “O ya, everyone needs to do something, everyone will do something, they will work out, it does not matter if I am there or not, let me take care of my own affairs first.” Third, the resolution of the issue depends to a large extent on scientific knowledge, education and information. General public is helpless because it is not informed/educated/aware of the basics of the subject and the action they are supposed to take. When they try to explore the subject on their own, they check the internet which offers them contradictory opinions and debates, or newspapers which give reports with technical details in a difficult to understand language. University libraries offer thick volumes of books on earth and climate science, which are definitely not meant for general audience.
What general public requires is a bare minimum, yet correct and accurate, account of the problem. It should be a brief description providing the basic information which is required to educate oneself so that one could follow the newspaper and TV reports, and also become aware of the action they can take as an individual of the society.
In such a scenario, the book Climate Change Simplified: A Recipe for Understanding by Thomas Anderl is a useful contribution. As its title suggests, it aims to provide the minimum and basic information that every individual is supposed to possess in order to be able to provide their contribution in tackling climate change. You can assess the sincerity and seriousness with which the project was approached by the fact that the book is only 126 pages long. So there is no reason for any person to be scared. Anybody would exclaim, “Oh yes, that much I can certainly manage!”
The positive points of the book is its timing and conciseness. There wouldn’t have been a better time than now to release this book, when the climate action is picking up pace and heat. Figures and plots have been provided in plenty and extensively. Data and numbers are provided throughout the book. A detailed list of references is provided at the end of the book.
Yet, the book falls short of achieving its stated objective. First, the several spelling mistakes do turn you off. In almost all instances it gives an impression that the writer was dictating the manuscript while a scribe was taking notes. Hence you see misplaced similar sounding words, such as bias/base. Of course, in almost all cases you are able to guess the correct word, yet such small errors do distract your attention.
Limitation of the book lies in a complete lack of description. Data and figures are presented, but are discussed very superficially, and that too in a very dull and technical language. I seriously doubt if a general reader will be able to understand and appreciate the content. It may make some sense to the researchers working in this field, though I wonder whether they would even need this book at all. Numbers (data and numerical values) are given but no explanation is given. The writer has made no attempt to explain any of the figures either. Instead of trying to impress the readers by juggling with numbers, the writer could have focused on theoretical discussion in a simple language using analogies and metaphors. Popular science writing is different from general science writing and is no less difficult. One sign of a successful popular science book is that it presents very less technical details but discusses the subject in a very elaborate but simple language.
I doubt if anyone would gain anything from this book. Yet, I would once again say that the writer should be applauded for at least making the much needed effort to talk to general audience about the most important problem of our times. Hope future editions would be thoroughly edited, rectified and simplified.
Author: Thomas Anderl
Sold By: Amazon Digital Services
Print Book Length: 126 pages
Price (Kindle): $6.32
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