May 31, 2010
This engrossing study predicts global warming scenarios for seven hot spots around the world—and evaluates the responses of communities, governments, and international organizations. Cullen, a climatologist, notes that "just as our brain is hardwired to perceive threats that are most immediate to us, we are hardwired to devote more energy to caring about the weather than to caring about the climate," and that "by the time you see it in the weather... it's too late." With some ecosystems, such as the overtaxed Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, which the entire state of California depends on for water, "people would rather simply hope for a happy ending." In contrast, in the Arctic, the Inuit are responding to climate change and incorporating technology into their traditional hunting methods, and New York City "has decided to fix the climate bug now" with its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Despite the worry among scientists that humans will follow "the woolly mammoth, the symbol of a climate that no longer exists," the book presents a surprisingly optimistic view of humanity's determination to come to terms with a daunting future.