CleanTechnica Stabilizing CO2 emissions, from Dire Predictions (review copy)

Published on May 13th, 2015 | by Sandy Dechert


NEW! “Dire Prediction” Climate Updates From Michael Mann

May 13th, 2015 by  

“Believe me, Dire Predictions is the book we’ve been waiting for,” says Kerry Walters, a reader of the highly respected work by climate scientists Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump. After previewing the second edition, which goes on sale in several formats on Amazon this Friday, May 12, I must agree with her completely. In just over 200 pages, this practical report presents the ordinary reader with essential findings of the current global climate assessment by experts worldwide, arranged in a visually stunning and undeniably powerful format.

Solving global warming, a typical 2-page spread from Dire Predictions (advance copy)

“Solving global warming,” a typical 2-page spread from Dire Predictions (advance copy)

Specifically, Mann (Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State, director of its Earth System Science Center, and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines), whom I interviewed, and Kump (Professor of Geosciences at Penn State) have recast their July 2008 tour-de-force in light of the most current research and events. It will be especially telling for everyone born after 1976, who have never experienced earth’s “normal” climate, and for those old and young who have never come face to face with real climate science. From Dr. Mann:

Possible climate scenarios, from Dire Predictions (advance copy)“We have sought to explain—in a manner that is accessible and engaging, yet scientifically rigorous and comprehensive—the conclusions reached last year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about what might be the greatest challenge we face as a civilization: the challenge to combat human-caused climate change.”

Dire Predictions describes scientific projections and how they are developed. It also discusses impacts of the anthropogenic climate shift (which have already become measurable) and the world’s vulnerability to them. Biological anthropologist, science communicator, and OpenSource/OpenAccess advocate Greg Laden calls Mann and Kump’s book “everyperson’s guide to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.”

Dire Predictions illustration of UN IPCC findings (advance copy)Reviewer Laden sees the UN’s work, which the authors distill in Dire Predictions, as “a massive undertaking,” 3000+ technical pages that only a few readers will have the time or training to plow though and analyze. It is very important that everyone understand the implications of the IPCC reports, Laden says, because human-caused climate change has emerged as today’s number-one existential issue. Individuals, corporations, and governments need to this knowledge to make sensible, workable changes in behavior and policy, or we will all face dire consequences from their inaction.

"Is it time to sell that beach house?" from Dire Predictions (review copy)Unlike its source material, Dire Predictions is not crammed with complicated chemical and mathematical data, climate modeling, and geoforensics. Nor does it resound with gloom. The authors seed their accounts of expected changes with planning, mitigation, and adaptation people can put in place to counter the unavoidable. The sooner, the better, they explain— what Dr. Mann calls “the procrastination penalty” adds up daily. We are presumably now committed to billions, if not trillions, in economic losses by not having acted yet, he says, but there is still time to avert the worst and most costly damages climate change can impose.

So what’s changed since the last edition of the book? Significant developments have occurred in the science since 2007. These include the concept of “the Anthropocene,” the much-debated “Faux Pause,” the issue of equilibrium climate sensitivity, some geoengineering proposals, and relevant changes in US climate (recent cold eastern U.S. winters and unprecedented drought in California). Mann and Kump also explain “tipping points,” abrupt climate change, and irreversibility.

Stabilizing CO2 emissions, from Dire Predictions (review copy)Sea level rise estimates have increased, and “suffocating the ocean” has become more of a concern. Water in general receives more attention in this edition, including the “water-energy nexus.” Also, the authors now see the UN’s forecasting for SLR and some other climate change measurements as overly conservative (i.e., low). Along the lines of New York Times analyst Thomas L. Friedman, they point out that social unrest increases with climate change, notably in Syria, which Friedman emphasized in Years of Living Dangerously. New modules in Dire Predictions also cover ocean heat content, deoxygenation, migrating climate zones, and sustainability.

Dr. Mann offered me a heartfelt comment about another small but positive change in the second edition:

“You put your finger on something important with your comment about diversity. In the first edition, we profiled two climate scientists. Both were senior white male scientists named James. It was clear to us, upon some reflection, that this did not convey–either in reality, or in aspiration–the true diversity of today’s scientific leaders. Suffice it to say that our choice of four scientists profiled this time in the 2nd edition better reflects that diversity.”

DK Publishing, which produced Dire Predictions, is a well respected graphics- and readability-oriented publisher. In particular, credit must go to the book designers, who collaborated with the authors to forge a superlative design for Dire Predictions. Like its predecessor, the new edition progresses through smoothly written text, related boxes, colorful graphic elements, striking images, quickly understandable analogies, and a wealth of online links. These make it both a flexible and easily read introduction for ordinary people and a must for planning, geography, and climate science students at all levels, from middle school through postgraduate study.

International page from Dire Predictions (review copy)The second edition is available in various eText formats, including CourseSmart and Pearson eText. Mobile-enabled QR codes link readers to online media and data sources. Teachers can download PowerPoint slides of key graphics from the Instructor’s Resource Center Website. Previews of the new edition have received 4.2 out of 5 Amazon stars from readers.

Anyone engaged in the climate conversation and wanting to be well informed (but not to the extent of reading long and technical UN reports) should get this book, read it, and keep it handy as a reference. Mann sums up the conclusion of this concise backgrounder on climate change in one sentence: “Readers will learn that the threat is indeed dire, but also, that it is not too late.”

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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

  • Bob_Wallace

    I’m sorry. You’ve lost all respect.

    Cimategate was investigated by multiple respected scientific bodies and found to be a POS.

    You probably ought to find your way to a site that appreciates ridiculous fantasies. That sort of stuff simply doesn’t fly here.

    • Tunder Bar

      No scientific bodies investigated anything.

      • Bob_Wallace

        That’s BS.

        You might wish to read the site rules. You’re getting very close to earning an escorted trip to the door.

        • Tunder Bar

          What rule am I breaking?

  • Biologyteacher100

    I really liked reading Mann’s Hockey Stick Wars book. I look forward to reading this newest book by this outstanding scientist.

  • Tunder Bar

    Michael E Mann is not a distinguished anything. Scientist, human, person, activist, none of it fits the description of “distinguished”.

    • Larmion

      He’s certainly a decent enough scientist. Out of curiousity, I looked up his work on Web of Science. I really can’t see any flaws in his peer-reviewed work (and more importantly, neither could the peer reviewers, which are all experts in that field).

      Sure, his popular works are simplified almost to the point of sensationalism, and the coverage of it in the media even more so. But there are precious few scientists (and even fewer non-scientists) who ever managed to write a popular work that managed to find a good balance between accuracy and accesibility. Compared to most works on climate change, which are frankly cr*p, his are very decent.

      • Steven F

        The author,A.W Montford, of the Hockey stick ilusion Looked at the paper and initially didn’t see any flaws. but when he tried to get the actual data he found it difficult. Eventually he did and he immediately found problems. With the paper and the peer-reviewed process. Note he believes in global warming.

        What he found is alarming . The end result of his work is that he has been frequently called to review simiilar papers submitted for review. The book is well worth reading.

        • Larmion

          Which is ‘the’ paper? The hockeystick one?

          I’m pretty sure every scientist has accidentally or deliberately read too much into his data at some point- myself included. Sometimes, that slips through peer review.

          But I’ve never seen a scientist who managed to pull that off more than a few times over his/her career. You just don’t get the volume published in A1 journals that he did if 99,99% of your work isn’t up to the highest standards.

      • Tunder Bar

        Well. Since you and his pal reviewers thought it was all kosher then what can we argue eh? And since his pals too did their own pal reviewed versions of the hockey stick graph, then geez, it must be “science”.

        The hockey stick team published all kinds of similar looking graphs taken from similar crap datasets and using similarly crap statistical methodology. Yeah, so they duplicated similar crap science. It is still crap.

        Even Mann himself is trying to distance himself from the IPCC version they printed and gave him credit for.

        • Bob_Wallace

          A claim of published science being crap requires reliable data which disproves the published research.

          Without data your opinion is worth exactly zero.

  • Steven F

    Dr Mann became a “Highly respected” climatologist based on one paper. The very informative book “the hockey stick illusion” was wtritten about that paper and it is worth reading.

    Note: I have read the book and it is obvious to me all the people that post 1 star comments did not read the book.

    • nakedChimp

      hehe.. I like this comment about it: “..You can read it while your house floats away.”

    • tonylurker

      Dr. Mann became “Highly respected” based on a large volume of high quality work over the past two decades. His work has stood the test of time and has been confirmed and extended by other groups. Your “very informative book” is likely on the caliber of those “highly informative” books about the Bigfoot.

    • Biologyteacher100

      Michael Mann has over 100 scientific publications. Maybe one is more famous, but you should look at the whole body of work.

  • Bernie Roseke

    Michael Mann’s work is mostly BS. Maybe the oceans need to rise by an inch before you can credibly say it will flood the florida coastline. If even half, no even a tenth of what he said would happen by now, did, he’d have some credibility. Running around saying the world’s gonna end when it’s clearly not is destructive to society, and if his work fades into irrelevance he’s got only himself to blame.

    • nakedChimp

      it’s always nice when people claim stuff and don’t back them up with some references..

    • Brooks Bridges

      You are obviously ignorant of (but can google):
      1) Clear day flooding in Miami.
      2) The mayor of Norfolk saying, a year or two ago, that there were neighborhoods in Norfolk that would have to be abandoned in the next 15 due to sea level rise making them uninhabitable
      3) That the light rail system completed 3 years ago in Norfolk is now unusable several times a year due to flooding.
      4) Plots of flooding in Annapolis and other points on Eastern Seaboard showing a clear trend over the last 30 years of more days per year with flooding. (Using actual data, not models)

      Ignorance may be bliss but it’s not a good way to run the world.

      • Larmion

        If the (nigh immeasurable) sea level rises predicted for the coming decades are enough to threaten the viability of entire neighborhoods, you have bigger problems as a city than climate change. The world’s most incompetent planning department, for example.

        Just sayin’.

        • Brooks Bridges

          First, I’m well aware of the many other facets of the expected global warming are going to have different and serious effects in different places. However, to trivialize a sea level rise sufficient to destroy neighbor hoods in less than 13 or 14 years is puzzling to me. The Naval base at Norfolk has big concerns. Also, any storm surges will be further multiplied by these phenomena. Meanwhile, VA is still officially denying sea level rise – one reason the brand new light rail system is now flooding. So I’d say they are indeed incompetent – because they ignored predictions of “trivial” sea level rise. This will be one of those tipping point things – one day, enough people will be trying to move out that real estate prices will decline precipitously. The whole Eastern seaboard is a lot of real estate. Meanwhile, Canada recently built a bridge expected to last 100 years – they at least attempted to take SLR into account so it would still let ocean going ships pass near end of its life span.

    • 37725

      While the rest of us wait for you to fade into irrelevance, but I think that has already happened. Goodbye to you.

  • interesting preview. How often does Dr. Mann use the phrase ‘Extinction’ or (to be precise) ‘human extinction’ in his book, and when does he anticipate it?

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