Climate Change: A Wicked Problem

Climate Change: A Wicked Problem: Complexity and Uncertainty at the Intersection of Science, Economics, Politics, and Human Behavior, by Frank Incropera, is a textbook suitable for use in advanced high school or college classes, but also an excellent primer on the topic for anyone interested in it. Incropera spares little details in describing how the Earth's climate system works, and how human generated greenhouse gases, and other effects, change the energy balance of the planet to produce the phenomenon we call "global warming," and other effects.

Incropera addresses the panoply of causes of warming, feedback systems, and effects, as well as the range of strategies proposed to address climate change. More than many other books covering this large and complex topic, Incropera addresses energy production. He also looks at societal, cultural, religious, ethical, and other factors that come into play when we try to figure out what to do about this "wicked problem." This book makes clear that this is not a simple problem, but a complex one because of the vast and variable scales of time and space involved.
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The book is very thorough and, as an academic text, well documented, rich in detail (with numerous appendices) and well indexed. I have a sense that there was a fairly long time between the production of visuals and the publication of the book, as many of the graphics don't bring us up to the most recent year for which there are data, which actually obviates the use of many of the otherwise excellent figures. But, I suppose, one could not know, say, a year and a half ago that we were going to start breaking surface temperature records almost every month.

There have been a few textbook-style academic books on climate change produced over the years. Climate Change: A Wicked Problem: Complexity and Uncertainty at the Intersection of Science, Economics, Politics, and Human Behavior has the nearly unique feature that it was simultaneously produced as an affordable paper back, so you don't have to wait for it to get old and remaindered to pick up a copy!

Table of Contents

  • Foreword Tony Earley
  • Foreword Bud Peterson
  • Foreword Arun Majumdar
  • 1. Energy, economics, and climate change
  • 2. The earth's climate system
  • 3. Greenhouse gases
  • 4. Global warming
  • 5. Consequences of global warming
  • 6. Mitigation, adaptation, and geoengineering
  • 7. Public policy options
  • 8. The politics of global warming: a history lesson and future prospects
  • 9. Dissenting opinions: the great hoax
  • 10. The ethics of climate change
  • 11. A way forward
  • References
  • Index.
  • Followed by appendices on unit conversions, fossil fuels, sources of methane, time scales, and coal-fired plants; And notes.

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