You’re about to learn everything you ever wanted to know about climate change…which means you’re about to learn everything you never wanted to know about your future.
The second edition of Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change has hit the shelves. The book, co-written by Lee R. Kump and Planet Expert Michael Mann, updates their original 2008 version with the latest findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international authority on climate science.
The book offers readers a thorough but easy-to-read breakdown of what thousands of the planet’s climate experts currently know about global warming. It is intended for a broad audience and is presented in a format that Dr. Michael Mann calls “visually engaging.”
In an interview with Planet Experts, Mann explained that the book is a joint venture between publishers Pearson (a traditional academic publisher) and DK (a trade publishing house known for its pictorial travel books), which has resulted in a format that is both pleasing to the eye and scientifically accurate. “It is appropriate on the coffee table or the office book shelf,” said Mann. “It could be used by high school students, college students, or lay readers of any age who want to better acquaint themselves with the topic.”
Will It Win Over Climate Skeptics?
Earlier this month, I spoke to Dr. Mann about his participation in John Cook’s new online course on climate science denial, Denial101x. In the course, Mann describes the damage climate misinformation has done to the credibility of science (for instance, the mainstream media will still refer to the “climate change debate” even though 97 percent of scientists say humans are changing the climate).
I asked if Dire Predictions could win over the skeptics in the audience, to which he replied that the book offers a course correction for the “confused middle” of the population that has been sideswiped by the rampant misinformation and disinformation in the public realm.
“There is a small but very vocal group of individuals who no longer see this problem through the lens of science and logic, but instead through partisan ideology,” said Mann. “I am under no illusions when it comes to winning them over.”
Instead, Mann hopes to provide an accessible resource that readers can peruse in an objective, non-partisan way, and hopefully share it with their friends, colleagues and families.
What’s New in the 2015 Edition?
The book has been updated to include the latest IPCC report (published last year), which draws from the work of thousands of scientists from all over the world. (And at over 3,000 technical pages, that IPCC report was sorely in need of the colloquial distillation that Dire Predictions provides.) But the book actually includes developments more recent than the report, such as the irreversible tipping point reached by the west Antarctic ice sheet.
According to Mann, the demise of the Antarctic ice sheet will eventually yield 10-12 feet of sea level rise across the globe.
Mann and Kump have included other such “tipping points” in the 2015 edition, as well as major climate developments that are occurring faster than previous IPCC models projected.
“Nobody could have foreseen in 2008 (when the first edition was published) that we would see such a dramatic drop in Arctic sea ice in summer of 2012, or the massive surface melting across Greenland that was witnessed in summer 2012,” said Mann. “Nor could we have foreseen the massive, disastrous SuperStorm Sandy later that same year. Or the unprecedented North American heat wave that summer. Each of these events offers an opportunity for elucidating scientific context in the next edition. And of course, the elephant in the room right now is the unprecedented drought being experienced in California.”
The authors discuss the likely role climate change has played in the drought, as well as the aforesaid events, in the new edition.
Mann also tackles the global warming “faux pause” (a topic he has previously tackled on this site), a common misbelief that the globe has ceased warming in the last 15 years.
“The false notion that there has been a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming is so pervasive in the current public discourse that we felt we had to address the topic and set the record straight,” he said. “We also have sought to dispel the false notion that a few cold east coast winters somehow disprove climate change.”
The Penalty for Procrastination
Economic damage to the United States from sea level rise alone could cost up to $1.1 trillion within this century, according to a recent study from the Environmental Protection Agency, the University of New Hampshire, the Woods Hole Group and others.
Total damage related to more extreme weather and conditions could raise the price by billions or even trillions more, said Mann, because the U.S. has failed to pass significant legislation to curb greenhouse gases or otherwise act. This “procrastination penalty” will only increase over time.
Learn Why, in Simple English and Illustrations
Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change is for sale in several formats on Amazon right now, including CourseSmart and Pearson eText. Teachers can even visit the Instructor’s Resource Center Website to download PowerPoint slides of key graphics.
Why is it worth your time? As Dr. Mann says, “We humbly think it’s the best layperson’s guide to climate change (science, impacts, solutions) out there on the market today.”
Michael Mann currently serves as Penn State’s Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and director of its Earth System Science Center, and holds joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. One of the planet’s most prominent and respected scientists, he was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the IPCC’s Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001. His book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, was published in 2012.