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Right up front I should tell you that I have known Roger Pielke Jr. for a number of years and think highly of his research and work. Pielke is a professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. At CIRES, he served as the director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research from 2001 to 2007.
We hear a lot these days about “interdisciplinary” science or research that cuts across many fields, such as atmospheric science and biology or hydrology and urban planning. But Pielke Jr.’s new book, "The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming," manages to beautifully and easily encompass everything from atmospheric science and the third rail of global warming to biodiversity, politics, a bit of history, geoengineering and energy policy. It wraps up with some original thoughts about achieving decarbonization in the future.
Quite a range of topics, but quite a book. A book that should be required reading for all of us thinking and talking about climate change/global warming, its long term consequences and the Gordian Knot of science, politics and policy.
While I hope you will read this provocative book, you should know first that Pielke is not a naysayer about the fundamental science of global change and global warming. In the beginning chapters he refers to the work of his father Roger Pielke Sr. in not only focusing on increasing carbon dioxide as a force behind global warming, but also that “the climate system is subject to multiple human influences,” and while “certainty is not forthcoming” that does not mean agreement on policy is not possible.
Pielke’s fundamental given in considering climate politics is what he calls the “Iron Law of Climate Policy.” It is that when policies focused on economic growth confront policies focused on emissions reductions, it is economic growth that will win out every time.
Pielke leads us to what he views as a “pragmatic future” for climate policy, the core of which is a focus on decarbonization and adaptation on development. He builds his argument using a background of solid science, a worldview of energy needs and growth (today 1.5 billion people have no access to electricity), a history of international environment-related policies and agreements and a brief stop to look at the folly and danger of geoengineering.
In the end you may disagree with some of Pielke’s views and “fixes,” but this is a book that at least will get you thinking and, no matter what your current view is of global warming, bring perspectives that may enlighten all of us.