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Can we cope with a warming world?

Living in a Warmer World by Jim Salinger (Bateman, $39.99)
Reviewed by John Lang

salinger [1]How is climate change going to affect our lives? According to Living in a Warmer World, it won’t just be changes to the weather, but also changes to our water, our wheat and even our wine.

Vastly experienced climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger, who lives in Auckland, has gathered essays from the who’s who of climate specialists in a fast-paced book that moves beyond our preoccupation with the causes of climate change. Rather, it combines observation and foresight to evaluate the looming effects on our world.

Former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark, now head of the United Nations Development Programme, provides a useful foreword. From there, 20-plus experts across various disciplines leave little unexplored in a series of short (albeit technical) chapters, and help the reader understand the enormity of adapting to a warming planet, with effects on such critical areas as our fisheries, food supplies and access to fresh water.

Of particular salience are the book’s final three chapters. Working under the umbrella of “decisions we need to make now,” these chapters explore problems relating to risk management, media framing and ethical decision-making, keeping future generations firmly in mind.

Like the sea of climate-change books before it, the book’s breadth may be off-putting to some but it’s also necessary: the scope of the problem is what makes it so challenging to solve. What makes this book important and timely is its focus on the effects, not the causes, of climate change.

Salinger was a lead author for the scientific assessment of climate trends and impacts in the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, and his book may purposefully coincide with the recent publication of the latest IPCC Report on the current state of climate science. Both are telling publications.

From October until early December, Jim Salinger will be touring New Zealand, speaking about the book and summarising its key points.

Wellington:
Thursday 17 October
4.00-5.30pm: Cotton Building Lecture Theatre 304 School of Geology, Environment and Earth Science, Victoria University of Wellington

Auckland:
Tuesday 22 October
6.00pm: Owen Glenn Theatre, Auckland University
Joint presentation with Glen McGregor (heatwave chapter) and Dr Jan Sinclair (media chapter).

Christchurch:
Tuesday 29 October
5.00-6.00pm: Canterbury University – Undercroft 101 (beneath the Central Library)

Lincoln:
Wednesday 30 October
5.00pm: Lincoln University, Faculty of Commerce building, Commerce 1 lecture theatre

Wanaka:
Wednesday 6 November
6.30-9.30pm: Lake Wanaka Centre, Armstrong Room, Ardmore Street, Wanaka
Thursday 7 November
5.30-7.00pm: University of Otago, Division of Science, College of Education auditorium

Palmerston North:
Thursday 21 November
2.40 – 3.00pm: NZ Hydrological and Meteorological Society Joint conference, Palmerston North Convention Centre

Thames:
Friday 29 November
7.30-9.00pm: Thames ECO conference, Kaureanga Valley Christian Camp

Auckland:
Monday 2 December
7.30-9.00pm: North Shore Forest and Bird Society