David Suzuki book on climate change is ultimately hopeful

Just Cool It by David Suzuki. [PNG Merlin Archive]

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Just Cool It: The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do

By David Suzuki and Ian Hanington

Greystone Books/David Suzuki Institute

Two passages in the introduction to this book encapsulate the situation that confronts us as the effects of global warming become more serious every day. The first describes a scene right out of a horror movie: flying to Smithers a few years ago, David Suzuki looked out the window to see that the once-green forest beneath him, “had turned bright red. Pine trees were dying because of an explosion of mountain pine beetles … no longer controlled by cold winter temperatures. Immense clouds of beetles attacked billions of dollars worth of pine trees.”

The second passage correctly states that the crisis is also a tremendous opportunity to “create a healthier and more just world for everyone.”

This dualistic approach is why the book is, ultimately, hopeful, even though it chronicles both the destruction that climate change is already causing to our environment and the much more severe devastation that awaits us — unless we act swiftly and decisively to address the causes. One problem is that we should have acted years — even decades — ago, to start moving towards a post-carbon world. The failure to do so means that the damage will continue to increase even if we ended all fossil fuel use today.

The book provides a clear synopsis of both the history of global warming as well as the rock-solid science behind it. In other words, climate change is not a “hoax” invented by China, as the current resident of the While House ignorantly claimed. (Nor is the fact that 2016 was the hottest year on record just “fake news.”)

Suzuki and Hanington chronicle lesser-known sources of danger, such as the rise in emissions of methane, “a gas many times more potent than CO2,” that increases as Arctic ice melts. (In December, a new study warned that “global warming triggered by the massive release of methane … may be apocalyptic.”)

In the meantime, half the species on Earth today will likely disappear by the middle of the century — within 33 years.

Moreover, we almost never hear about the human costs of air pollution caused by such carbon sources as factories, automobiles and the oil sands. The authors point out that just breathing our polluted air resulted in “21,000 premature deaths in Canada … as well as 620,000 doctor visits, 92,000 emergency room visits … and an annual economic impact of over $8 billion” — in 2008 alone. Globally, air pollution kills 1.7 million children every year.

The authors point to the connection between human-caused climate change and other problems around the world, such as the growing numbers of refugees, e.g. “drought and increasing water scarcity … along with an influx of Iraqi war refugees … caused Syria’s urban population to increase from 8.9 million … to 13.8 million.”

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Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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