Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 4.17.08



Not Enough Drops We’re Wasting Our Fresh Water. How Do We Stop?

Welcome to Your Watershed Eugene’s Water Flows from the Cascades

Devastation in the Legislature Climate Change in our Rivers and Oceans

High-Octane Compost Fueling Biodegradation with a bit of Caffeine

Climate For the Rest of Us Rough Guide tackles “the most important challenge of our time”

The Great Whiteaker Cleanup Parade


Climate For the Rest of Us
Rough Guide tackles “the most important challenge of our time”
By Chuck Adams 

The Rough Guide to Climate Change is not a rough guide to climate change. It’s not Global Warming for Dummies or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Global Warming; instead, RGCC is an exhaustive assessment of Earth’s ever-changing climate by Robert Henson, one of the leading science journalists reporting on atmospheric research, and his many reputable sources. Already in its second edition (the first edition was shortlisted for the Royal Society’s Science Book Prize in the U.K.), RGCC‘s tagline, “Symptoms, Science, Solutions,” sums up its scope as well as its intent. It acknowledges the field of climate science is still divisive and riddled with variables beyond any computer modeling program’s grasp but makes it clear that the scientific methods employed hold up to the same rigorous standards as other science fields.

For this writer, who penned a report on global warming in 6th grade and once considered meteorology his future calling, RGCC offers a fascinating, if heady, introduction to the atmospheric sciences presented in easily accessible chapters and sidebars. These sidebars — Rough Guide‘s strongest selling point — are juicy journalistic tidbits that explain everything from “The plane truth about contrails” to “Adaptation vs. mitigation” to “Low-carbon motoring.” Within its 374 pages lies a cauldron of information that the casual reader may find intimidating — that is, until the final chapter, “What You Can Do.” And what we do, while small, will make all the difference.

Henson sums up what is possibly the sanest way to look at the big picture of a seriously effed up atmosphere: “[While] it may be a bit of a reach to think in terms of ‘saving the planet’ from global warming, it’s perfectly valid to think about preserving a climate that’s sustaining to as many of Earth’s residents as possible.” Perhaps most relevant to Eugeneans looking for a progressive stance is Gaia theorist James Lovelock’s (who wrote the introduction to RGCC) belief that “it is much too late for sustainable development … what we need is sustainable retreat.” Retreat: Let’s hope he means the verb and not the noun.