Prepared by Dr. Nicole M. Merola, Spring 2012
Archer, David and Ray Pierrehumbert, eds. The Warming Papers: The Scientific Foundation for the Climate Change Forecast. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
This anthology collects classic scientific papers on climate change. The text opens with Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier’s paper “On the Temperatures of the Terrestrial Sphere and Interplanetary Space.” The Warming Papers also includes notable texts by John Tyndall, Svante Arrhenius, G. S. Callendar, Charles D. Keeling, James Hansen, and Ken Caldeira and Michael Wickett. Each scientific paper is introduced by the editors, who highlight and explain the key issues.
Athanasiou, Tom and Paul Baer. Dead Heat: Global Justice and Global Warming. New York: Sven Stories Press, 2002.
Athanasiou and Baer present political and social arguments about climate change, highlighting the ways those who are the poorest will be most detrimentally affected by climate change. They argue that a social justice approach is the necessary framework for shaping global climate change legislation.
Dorries, Matthias. “Climate Catastrophes and Fear.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (November/December 2010) 1.6: 885-890.
Dorries’s article historicizes the frequent use of the terms “climate catastrophe” and “fear” in contemporary discourse about climate change. As Dorries states in the abstract of his article, “the current discourses of fear over climate change reflect the attempts to come to grips with the long-term issue of anthropogenic climate change; they are appeals for action (or calls to inaction) and imply claims to power, while stressing that the issue is political and cultural, not merely a matter of science and reason alone.” By looking at discourse that conjoins fear and climate change, Dorries argues that we need “more subtle cultural and historical understanding[s] of climate and fear in human society.”
Dryzek, John S., Richard B. Norgaard, and David Scholsberg, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
This anthology contains accessible and informative overviews about a wide range of social and political aspects of climate change. Among the topics covered in the text are climate skepticism and denial; climate refugees; climate scarcities; science, society, and public opinion; forms of climate justice; climate policy instruments; governmental responses to climate change; global governance issues; and climate activisms.
Hamilton, Clive. Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change. Washington, D.C.: Earthscan, 2010. Print.
Hamilton sketches why, in the face of irrefutable science, many people and governments continue to drag their feet with respect to meaningful climate change action. Especially useful is Hamilton’s chapter on climate denial and its consequences.
Hertsgaard, Mark. Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
Hertsgaard coins the term “Generation Hot” for those people, like his five-year old daughter Chiara, who are growing up in the shadow of climate change and will face the consequences of climate disruption. Hot combines national and international reporting with Hertsgaard’s musings on the contours of his daughter’s future in a climate-changed world.
Heymann, Matthias. “The Evolution of Climate Ideas and Knowledge.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (July/August 2010) 1.4: 581-597.
Heymann’s article provides a look at the way ideas about climate have changed over history. Arguing for the importance of intellectual history in contemporary understandings of climate and climate change, Heymann discusses how ancient ideas about climate, like those contained in the writing of Hippocrates and Artistotle, persisted into the eighteenth century. He also discusses how the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century, in which systematized instrument-based observation was privileged, led to an increase in the public’s interest in and understanding of weather and climate. In his discussion of nineteenth- and twentieth-century views on climate Heymann concentrates on how mechanistic and reductionist understandings of climate are overtaken by understandings that privilege complex planet-wide systems. Heymann argues, ultimately, that knowledge and ideas about climate derive from both scientific observation and social and cultural processes.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. New York: Bloomsbury, 2006.
To gather the material for this book Kolbert traveled to numerous sites, both natural and institutional, where climate change research is taking place and/or where the effects of climate change are already being experienced. Kolbert’s writing style, which weaves together her narratives of exploration and discovery with those of the scientists and laypeople she visits, is compelling. Her writing manages to convey complex scientific information in terms accessible to non-scientists and she does so in a manner that does not over-simplify the science.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. “The Darkening Sea.” The New Yorker 20 November 2006. 66-75.
In this article from The New Yorker, elements of which are incorporated into Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Kolbert discusses the effects of climate change on oceans. Key figures in this article are Victoria Fabry, an oceanographer who studies the effects of increased CO2 on pterapod shells, and climate scientists Ken Caldeira and Michael Wickett, who coined the term ocean acidification.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. “The Sixth Extinction?” The New Yorker 25 May 2009. 53-63.
In this article from The New Yorker, elements of which are incorporated into Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Kolbert discusses the disappearance of golden frogs in Panama and Costa Rica and the white nose syndrome affecting bats in North America in the context of presenting arguments about anthropogenic pressures on habitats and the extinction cycles of various geological epochs.
Lynas, Mark. High Tide: The Truth About Our Climate Crisis. New York: Picador, 2004.
High Tide is the result of a three-year odyssey during which Lynas traveled around the world to witness effects of climate change. Lynas goes to Alaska, Tuvalu, Peru, and Inner Mongolia, among other locations. In each location he visits he records the stories of local people and the climate change effects they are already experiencing. Both a personal narrative and an overtly political text, Lynas critiques the United States for what he sees as the ways its domestic and foreign policies have undermined the efforts of other countries at attempting to control the emission of greenhouse gases.
Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. National Geographic, 2008.
Lynas approaches climate change by considering, in increments of one degree, the effects of average global temperature. His six main chapters, which present the consequences of temperature changes of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 degrees, respectively, draw on the work of geologists, glaciologists, oceanographers, climate scientists, and paleoclimatologists. Lynas argues that we have already impacted the planet too severely to depend on technological fixes.
McKibben, Bill. Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet. New York: Henry Holt, 2010. Print.
McKibben argues that we are currently living on a planet already so changed by human activity that it should be called Eaarth, rather than Earth. He also claims that we have underestimated both the pace of climate change and the amount we will need to change our behavior in the face of climate disruption. Ultimately McKibben endorses a selective localism in which food and energy production are decentralized and returned to local communities.
McKibben, Bill, ed. The Global Warming Reader: A Century of Writing About Climate Change. New York: Penguin, 2012.
McKibben introduces this anthology, which collects excerpts of writing about climate change from a wide range of authors. The book is divided into three parts: Part 1: Science, Part 2: Politics, and Part 3: Impact. Authors include Svante Arrhenius, James Hansen, Al Gore, Van Jones, Mike Tidwell, Naomi Oreskes, Naomi Klein, and Elizabeth Kolbert, among others.
Moser, Susanne C. “Communicating Climate Change: History, Challenges, Process and Future Directions.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (January/February 2010) 1.1: 31-53.
Moser’s article looks at how the science and effects of climate change can be most effectively communicated to the general public. Her article begins with a historical overview of climate change communication, which first emerged in the mid-1980s, and discusses the major challenges faced by those trying to convey the complexities of climate change. Moser then “focuses on key aspects of the communication process (purpose and scope of the communication, audience, framing, messages, messengers, modes and channels of communication, and assessing the outcomes and effectiveness of a communication” in order to ground her suggestions for how climate change communication can become more effective at reaching various audiences.
Nerlich, Brigitte, et al. “Theory and Language of Climate Change Communication.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (January/February 2010) 1.1: 97-110.
Nerlich, et al.’s article situates climate change communication within the context of developments in science communication. The article focuses on the importance of understanding audience and of using different strategies and tools to reach different audiences. A key component of this article is its attention to the role of language—including metaphor, word choice, rhetorical strategy, framing devices, and narrative—in climate change communication. Another important element of this article is its focus on the difficulties of effecting behavioral change in the face of climate change. The article ends with suggestions for improving climate change communication, including: “engaging people emotionally, carefully defining communication goals, engaging people in a dialogue or two way communication model, and knowing one’s audiences.”
Orr, David. Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Orr’s interdisciplinary text interweaves perspectives from environmental science, environmental policy, environmental activism, history, and philosophy to suggest that, with the proper political leadership, climate change and social change can be productively addressed together. Orr offers pragmatic solutions for connecting science, public policy, economic policy, and ecology in a constellation oriented toward stewardship, rather than exploitation, of the planet.
Trexler, Adam and Adeline Johns-Putra. “Climate Change in Literature and Literary Criticism.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (March/April 2011) 2.2: 185-200.
This article by Trexler and Johns-Putra, which provides an overview of representations of climate change in Anglophone literature, “explores how the complexity of climate change as both scientific and cultural phenomenon demands a corresponding degree of complexity in fictional representation.” It also assesses the way literary studies has dealt with climate change narratives. Trexler and Johns-Putra attend to the question of genre in order to think about the ways some forms of literary narrative might be better than others at representing the complexities of climate change. They also suggest that ecocriticism might usefully take up climate change literature as part of its project to consider the local in relation to the global and vice versa.
Urry, John. Climate Change and Society. Polity, 2011.
In Climate Change and Society Urry argues that most assessments of climate change use methodologies of economics as their key analytics when they should be using methods of sociology. Placing sociology at the center of thinking about climate futures leads Urry to focus on how social practices and social systems have, at least in the developed world, reified high carbon social practices. After presenting a portrait of these high carbon social practices and the “carbon military-industrial complex” that inaugurates, depends on, and reproduces these high carbon social practices, Urry discusses the necessity of quickly moving to low carbon systems.
Volk, Tyler. CO2 Rising: The World’s Greatest Environmental Challenge. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008.
Volk’s book explains the global carbon cycle in a way that is both light-hearted and serious. To describe what happens when CO2 is released through various processes he sets up scenarios in which he can follow different carbon atoms along their global and temporal circuits. Volk’s explanation of the carbon cycle lays the groundwork for the questions he considers toward the end of the text: which energy systems should we use in the future; how should we think about the differences in wealth, energy use, and CO2 emissions across different nations; how do we move toward global equity in per capita emissions?
Yusoff, Kathryn and Jennifer Gabrys. “Climate Change and the Imagination.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (July/August 2011) 2.4: 516-534.
This article by Yusoff and Gabrys presents a survey of the ways climate change has been represented in selected literary, filmic, and visual and performance art texts. The writers and artists Yusoff and Gabrys discuss include novelist Ian McEwan, photographer Subhankar Banerjee, artist Amy Balkin, and sculptor Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, among others. They ultimately argue that “imaginative practices from the arts and humanities play a critical role in thinking through our representations of environmental change and offer strategies for developing diverse forms of environmental understanding from scenario building to metaphorical, ethical, and material investigations.”