Book review: A Global Warming Primer by Jeffrey Bennett

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, September 01, 2016

The cover of A Global Warming Primer by Jeffrey Bennett // Big Kid Science
The world continues to astonish me at nearly every turn. Not only do many science writers and bloggers immediately push the wrong buttons — “Proxima Centauri b is an earthlike planet!” — “The signal received by the Russians signals a probable alien detection!” — but much of the public is far behind the scientific curve.

People, global warming as a real phenomenon that is caused and/or made far worse by human industrialization is a done deal. So-called climate change deniers really have their head stuck terribly far in the sand. The physics here is grade-school level stuff. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warms the atmosphere. It is really amazingly simple.

Rarely has a book laid out all of the facts about climate change on Earth as clearly as Jeffrey Bennett’s A Global Warming Primer: Answering Your Questions about the Science, the Consequences, and the Solutions (107 pp., paper, Big Kid Science, Boulder, Colorado, 2016, $15; ISBN 978–1–937548–78–0).

Let me just say that this work ought to be required reading for anyone who actually cares about Earth as a planet. No excuses.

Bennett describes the scientific case for global warming in simple, straightforward terms. It is marvelously illustrated with many helpful diagrams and photos. And it is written in a plain, conversational style. Bennett has written some great books for kids. But this one is squarely aimed at adults. It is composed in basic language, with easy-to-read type and clear, compelling descriptions of the diagrammatic evidence so that anyone, no matter what their background, can understand it.

I like to recall what my old boss, Richard Berry, often said about our own home ground as we talked about planetary science. “Earth is a planet, too!” It is the most significant planet, of course, and the only place we know of where life exists in the cosmos.

I encourage those who are still skeptical of the realities of global warming — even though they are a generation behind the times even relative to most politicians — to read this book. Read it and really understand it. And please do this before you continue to post ill-advised comments on social media. Because by now those comments just make their composers look ridiculous.

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