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Inside the battle to save Earth’s climate

Climate scientist Stephen H. Schneider could easily say “I told you so,” now that data pour in on an almost daily basis to prove what he has been warning about for many years: Greenhouses gases we are pumping into the atmosphere are disrupting Earth’s climate, threatening our way of life, if not our survival.

Instead, he remains hopeful that it’s not too late to do something about it.

Science-as-a-Contact-Sport-cover.jpgSchneider, along with his colleagues on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore, won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to enlighten the public about human-induced climate change and to inspire action to confront it. The Stanford University climatologist is also a National Geographic Fellow.

In SCIENCE AS A CONTACT SPORT: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate (National Geographic Books; ISBN: 978-1-4262-0540-8; on-sale date Nov. 3, 2009; $28; hardcover), Schneider chronicles the infighting and backroom negotiations, the courage of some and the ignorance and duplicity of others, that have inhibited the world community from implementing solutions sooner to combat the dangers of a warming Earth.

Watch this video interview with Schneider, in which he discusses why it is difficult to follow the raging debate about climate change, where to get reliable information, his hopes for COP15 (the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18),and what steps governments and individuals can can take toward positive action.

 

Professor Schneider’s Web site: climatechange.net

Video interview of Stephen Schneider by David Braun

Decades may have been lost and most of the early, dire predictions are happening–sea levels rising; glaciers melting; unprecedented heat waves and wildfires; intensification of hurricanes as they move over warmed oceans; and arctic sea ice rapidly thinning all year long and increasingly disappearing in summer.

Further delay may result in irreversible conditions, including melted ice sheets, redrawn coastlines and species driven to extinction.

Steps toward positive action

But Schneider remains hopeful, offering a realistic prescription for how governments and individuals can take steps toward positive action.

For governments, that means creating energy-efficiency standards for buildings and machines; investing in clean technology research; cap and trade or carbon taxes; geoengineering schemes to try to remove CO2 from the air and help prevent some of the large impacts of climate change; and smart growth planning.

Individuals can avoid unnecessary automobile use; conserve energy at home; buy energy-efficient cars and appliances; eat more local foodstuffs and less imported foods; show up at city council meetings to advocate for a greener town; and support local politicians who stand up for sustainability.

In addition to his collective share of a Nobel Peace Prize, Schneider is winner of a MacArthur “genius grant” and has been an expert adviser to officials in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Obama administrations. He is the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, a professor in the Department of Biology, and a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

National Geographic Books provided a copy of SCIENCE AS A CONTACT SPORT: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate for this entry.