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A punchy climate book from a citizen scientist

Posted on 2 February 2017 by John Abraham, Rob Honeycutt

We know the climate is changing, the Earth is warming, and humans are the cause. As a scientist who studies this daily, I know the evidence is compelling and mutually reinforcing. In fact, the evidence is so compelling that it’s almost impossible to find scientists who disagree.

We also know that it’s possible to solve this problem using today’s technology. We don’t need to wait for fairy dust or cold fusion. Using energy more wisely, increasing renewable energy, modernizing nuclear power, and other actions are all things we can do right now to make the future better. 

But we also know that there are many groups and companies that are trying to stop meaningful action on climate change. Sure, many are fossil fuel companies that want to continue to sell their product. Others are ideological groups and people that for various reasons reject the compelling science. They cannot bring themselves to understand the facts because it conflicts with their belief system. These groups and people spread misinformation and purposely try to muddy the waters by creating a “fake news” environment of sorts.

For the rest of us who are interested in making this world better but not experts on climate change, it’s a real challenge to separate the science from the baloney. Not only do you have to know the science, but you may have to communicate it in a very concise situation. We scientists are trained to bloviate, not to persuade.

Fortunately, there is help. For anyone who wants easy to access, short elevator-speech responses to the most common questions and myths about climate change, a new resource is available. Interestingly, it was authored not by a climate scientist but by a citizen scientist. I’ve read the text and can vouch for its scientific accuracy.

The book is entitled Twenty-eight Climate Change Elevator Pitches written by Rob Honeycutt - a contributor to Skeptical Science. This book covers topics typically in 2-3 pages. Really short, really concise, always on point. Rob uses analogies to help describe climate science in ways that the rest of us can relate. He includes both basic science chapters as well as myth debunking. For instance, he relates geological climate change to a boxing match

The basic science topics he covers include titles such as “Ancient Sunlight”, “Radiative Gases”, and “The Climate System”. He also includes 2-3 page discussions on temperature measurements, ocean warming and sea level rise, acidification, ice, past climate change, tipping points, and more. Included with each chapter are rich and engaging graphics.

Why do I like this book so much? Well, part of it is that the discussions are short and punchy. They really are elevator speeches. They don’t get bogged down in too much detail. Crucially, his science is correct. Rob finds a way to identify what are the essential things people need to know and focuses on those items.

I also like that this book is simultaneously a warning but also optimistic. He is correct that climate change is a serious problem that we need to face. But, he is also right on in recognizing that there are solutions to this problem that can be implemented immediately. Furthermore, as Rob writes, ignoring the problem will be more injurious than facing it head on.

I asked Rob why he decided to write this book and he responded:

Click here to read the rest

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Comments 1 to 8:

  1. He would have a wider audience (me, for example) if it was also distributed as an ebook at Amazon. 

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  2. I've never owned a Kindle, and am not a big fan of Amazon, but I'm curious, Ronsch. This is a very graphic intensive book, leaning toward an artistic approach, over just simple line graphics. That works very well on the iPad, would that translate to the Kindle?

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  3. Rob @2, in my experience, Kindle does not handle graphics well.  My kindle was, however, a basic model.  There is a colour version that may do better.  That said, Amazon has an app for tablets so that you can read kindle books from an tablet.  (Mine is Android device, so I am not certain it works on ipad, although I can so no reason why not.)  As a side note, you can also read kindle books on a PC, if that is your inclination.

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  4. "in my experience, Kindle does not handle graphics well".

    Well I love my Kindle but the above is something of an understatement. I agree that Kindle app is good though.

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  5. Received my dead-tree copy in the mail yesterday and devoured the first 4-5 chapters. Well done, Rob! Short and sweet chapters which are very easy to comprehend.

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  6. @Rob Honeycutt:

    This is a very graphic intensive book, leaning toward an artistic approach, over just simple line graphics. That works very well on the iPad, would that translate to the Kindle?

    I don't know about Apple but Kindle requires the services of a professional formatter. Last time I checked John Cook's book had font that crowded and overlapped each other. Formatters know how to make it look good. They cost anywhere from 100 to 200 dollars (and up if you have a lot of images).

    I have a Kindle book which came out ok - I used a formatter - even though it has a lot of images. My images are black and white and consist of texts and handwritten documents.

    I recommend looking into Kindle and give them a try. They do have a rule, though - which they strictly enforce - that you cannot be selling the same book on a different website. 

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  7. I should have added above that it is one of John Cook's e-books that has a formatting issue. Unfortunately I cannot remember the title but, if I recall correctly, it is a book that has an image of him and his daughter.

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  8. Villaboo... That matches what I would expect from Amazon.

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