“Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth”

ISBN-10: 0618826122
ISBN-13: 978-0618826124

Hertsgaard’s book distinguishes “mitigation” (reducing the amount of global warming, mostly by reducing carbon emissions) and “adaptation” (taking measures to deal with the climate change that’s going to occur anyhow). The terminology is perhaps confusing (even to some of the reviewers here), since “mitigation” sounds like it refers to the latter. In any event, the book deals mostly with adaptation, since even in the best-case scenario it’s now too late to prevent serious climate change effects: only the last chapter is concerned with the criminal neglect that’s taken place over the last twenty years, and which seems to be continuing at Cancun now as I write this.

The author has done prodigious research into the topic, and presents it in a readable and convincing way, but perhaps the most important aspect of the book is the account of his travels in person to various areas. He gets a first-hand look at what the threats are, and what’s being done (and not being done) in places such as Louisiana and Shanghai (doomed), the Bay Area and New York City (serious troubles ahead), Chicago, London, and the Seattle area (threatened but likely to pull through), and, ironically, the Netherlands, which seems to be in the best shape, thanks to serious planning efforts.

Climate change is taking place faster than expected and it’s presenting much more serious problems. I hate to say this, but I feel some relief at the fact that I’m seventy years old with no children.


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