February 9, 2011

HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth

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If you are a parent, then your children are part of what author Mark Hertsgaard dubs "Generation Hot". After becoming a father, Hertsgaard realized climate change had arrived a century earlier than predicted. In Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, Herstgaard writes on climate change with some optimism in this personal book.

Q: Is that why you say your daughter belongs to what you call Generation Hot?

A: Not only my daughter. Every child on earth born after June 23, 1988, belongs to Generation Hot. Generation Hot includes some two billion young people, all of whom have grown up under global warming and are fated to spend the rest of their lives confronting its mounting impacts.

I date Generation Hot to June 23, 1988, because that's the day humanity was put on notice that greenhouse gas emissions were raising temperatures on this planet. The warning came from NASA scientist James Hansen's testimony to the United States Senate and, crucially, the decision by the New York Times to print the news on page 1, which made global warming a household phrase in news bureaus, living rooms, and government offices the world over.

Unfortunately, Hansen's and countless subsequent warnings by others went unheeded. The U.S. government, under Republican as well as Democratic leadership, listened as much to corporate-funded deniers of climate change as it did to actual scientists. So instead of shifting to greener technologies, U.S. emissions have soared over the past twenty years. That, in turn, helped accelerate global warming to where it triggered outright climate change. And as David King explained, once climate change gets triggered, it can't be turned off quickly.

As a result, my daughter and the other two billion young people of Generation Hot are destined to live with rising temperatures and stronger climate impacts for the rest of their lives. Which is why our new mantra in fighting climate change has to be "Avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable." On the one hand, we must redouble our efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions and stop global warming before it unleashes an unmanageable amount of climate change. On the other hand, we have to put in place better defenses against sea level rise, more effective water conservation systems, and many other measures to manage the climate change that is already unavoidable. In short, we have to live through global warming even as we strive to stop it.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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Posted by Jennifer Lance at February 9, 2011 5:00 PM

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