Once one gets through the unnecessarily alarmist introductory material, this book offers a levelheaded discussion of possible measures to abate greenhouse gas emissions and the economic, social, and political obstacles to adopting those measures. Unlike many studies on climate change, it discusses significant sources of emissions other than the burning of fossil fuels, such as deforestation and agriculture. It also includes a brief but informative treatment of geoengineering, a range of unorthodox approaches that might be able to offset global warming more rapidly or extensively than conventional means. The authors conclude that the obstacles to abatement are numerous and diverse -- but so are the possibilities for overcoming or bypassing them. Rather than a top-down global scheme, a “polycentric” approach to abatement -- many actions organized by many different individuals or organizations in multiple cultural environments -- will be desirable and indeed necessary. (The two are not mutually exclusive, so long as one does not discourage the other.) The book offers eight illuminating case studies, from Singapore’s control of traffic to Bangladesh’s distribution of solar power to rural areas, to illustrate the effective use of diverse approaches.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.
More Reviews on Economic, Social, and Environmental From This Issue