Skip to main content

Deep Future – Curt Stager ****

This is a most remarkable book. For one thing, it’s a book about global warming that in some senses leaves you feeling optimistic – which surely is pretty well unique in the history of publishing. I’m feeling better about climate change after reading this than I have for years.
It’s not that Curt Stager denies the impact of global warming, nor does he doubt that man-made global warming is happening, but instead he takes the big picture, something no one else has really done. By looking back at what happened in the past, both in terms of warming and cooling, and the impact it had on life at the time, he points out that predictions of doom are probably not realistic. After all, human beings survived the last ice age, a climate change event on a bigger scale than anything man made global warming can hit us with – there is no reason to think that we are going to be wiped out by the upcoming change.
Of course, this doesn’t mean there won’t be an impact, which Stager points out in terms of the changes hitting species. And it doesn’t mean we should let anything go. He points out the differences in what we would have to cope with under different scenarios, and it will be a lot easier to maintain out level of civilization with a lesser impact – so all the effort to reduce global warming is worth it – but we shouldn’t see it as a disaster that will end life as we know it.
In fact there’s even good news. It looks like our global warming efforts will cancel the next ice age, which would have produced a much bigger devastating blow to civilization than anything global warming has to offer. In the long term, assuming human beings survive, it looks like global warming will have been a good thing for the human race.
The only reason this isn’t a five star book is that it doesn’t hold up on readability. Stager’s style is fine, but in the end this has the slight feel of a magazine article that has been expanded to make a book, which means there’s much more detail than we really need or want to know (and, as seems the trend with scientist-written books these days, a bit too much ‘me’ in it from Stager). There’s also one slipup, where hydrogen is referred to as an energy source – it isn’t, it’s an energy storage and transmission medium, the energy to produce the hydrogen has to come from somewhere – in his example, the energy source is solar, with hydrogen used as a store.
Nevertheless, despite the flaws, this is a book that every green campaigner should read, learn and inwardly digest, if only to reduce the chances of getting ulcers. It gives a whole new perspective on global warming.
Hardback:  
Review by Brian Cleg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Feed (SF) - Nick Clark Windo ****

Ever since The War of the Worlds, the post-apocalyptic disaster novel has been a firm fixture in the Science Fiction universe. What's more, such books are often among the few SF titles that are shown any interest by the literati, probably because many future disaster novels feature very little science. With a few exceptions, though (I'm thinking, for instance, The Chrysalids) they can make for pretty miserable reading unless you enjoy a diet of page after page of literary agonising.

The Feed is a real mixture. Large chunks of it are exactly that - page after page of self-examining misery with an occasional bit of action thrown in. But, there are parts where the writing really comes alive and shows its quality. This happens when we get the references back to pre-disaster, when we discover the Feed, which takes The Circle's premise to a whole new level with a mega-connected society where all human interaction is through directly-wired connections… until the whole thing fails …

The Bastard Legion (SF) - Gavin Smith *****

Science fiction has a long tradition of 'military in space' themes - and usually these books are uninspiring at best and verging on fascist at worst. From a serious SF viewpoint, it seemed that Joe Haldeman's magnificent The Forever War made the likes of Starship Troopers a mocked thing of the past, but sadly Hollywood seems to have rebooted the concept and we now see a lot of military SF on the shelves.

The bad news is that The Bastard Legion could not be classified as anything else - but the good news is that, just as Buffy the Vampire Slayer subverted the vampire genre, The Bastard Legion has so many twists on a straightforward 'marines in space' title that it does a brilliant job of subversion too.

The basic scenario is instantly different. Miska is heading up a mercenary legion, except they're all hardened criminals on a stolen prison ship, taking part because she has stolen the ship and fitted them all with explosive collars. Oh, and helping her train her &…

On the Moor - Richard Carter ****

There's much to enjoy in Richard Carter's pean to the frugal yet visceral delights of being one with England's Pennine moorland. If this were all there were to the book it would have made a good nature read, but Carter cleverly weaves in science at every opportunity, whether it's inspired by direct observations of birds and animals and plants - I confess I was ignorant of the peregrine falcon's 200 mile per hour dive - or spinning off from a trig point onto the geometric methods of surveying through history all the way up to GPS.

Carter is something of an expert on Darwin, and inevitably the great man comes into the story many times - yet his appearance never seems forced. It's hard to spend your time in a natural environment like this and not have Darwin repeatedly brought to mind.

I confess to a distinct love of these moors. Having spent my first 11 years in and around Littleborough, just the other side of Blackstone Edge from Carter's moor, the moorland…