In Ian McEwan's new novel Solar, the best-selling author of Atonement explores the quest of one overweight and philandering Nobel prize-winning physicist to save the world from environmental disaster.
David Kipen founded the Libros Schmibros lending library and neighborhood bookshop last summer at 2000 E. First Street in Boyle Heights, where his family used to live. He has been the book editor and critic of the San Francisco Chronicle and director of literature at the National Endowment for the Arts, where he developed and ran The Big Read initiative. David is the author of The Schreiber Theory: A Radical Rewrite of American Film History (Melville House, 2006) and translator of Cervantes' The Dialogue of the Dogs (Melville House, 2009), and he wrote the introductions to this spring's republished WPA guides to Los Angeles and San Francisco (UC Press).
Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of thirteen books, including the novels On Chesil Beach; Saturday; Atonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize; and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award; as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award; and In Between the Sheets. He lives in London.
Ian McEwan, author of Solar, delves into the personal elements of climate change. McEwan says that while a science department "is as human and messy as any other institution," in the end "this is not about ideology or faith, it's simply about the facts."
Increase in the global average surface temperature resulting from enhancement of the greenhouse effect, primarily by air pollution. In 2007 the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasted that by 2100 global average surface temperatures would increase 3.27.2 °F (1.84.0 °C), depending on a range of scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions, and stated that it was now 90 percent certain that most of the warming observed over the previous half century could be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities (i.e., industrial processes and transportation). Many scientists predict that such an increase in temperature would cause polar ice caps and mountain glaciers to melt rapidly, significantly raising the levels of coastal waters, and would produce new patterns and extremes of drought and rainfall, seriously disrupting food production in certain regions. Other scientists maintain that such predictions are overstated. The 1992 Earth Summit and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change attempted to address the issue of global warming, but in both cases the efforts were hindered by conflicting national economic agendas and disputes between developed and developing nations over the cost and consequences of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Artistic form in which human or individual vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement. Literature and drama are its chief vehicles, but it is also found in such mediums as film, the visual arts (e.g., caricatures), and political cartoons. Though present in Greek literature, notably in the works of Aristophanes, satire generally follows the example of either of two Romans, Horace or Juvenal. To Horace the satirist is an urbane man of the world who sees folly everywhere but is moved to gentle laughter rather than to rage. Juvenal's satirist is an upright man who is horrified and angered by corruption. Their different perspectives produced the subgenres of satire identified by John Dryden as comic satire and tragic satire.
Mr. McEwan is a skilled writer. Atonement is perhaps the finest modern work of fiction I have ever read. I will read his other fiction works as well. I choose to not spoil my image of him by taking any of his political opinions into account. Dr. Sowell talks about this phenomenon among the intellectual class that because they are bona fide experts of one intellectual field, that their word on other topics about which they have no expertise whatsoever should be respected as well. Kind of like asking Cher or Matt Damon to comment on geopolitics. Everyone has an opinion he or she is entitled to, but to use one's noteriety to imply gravitas is cynical, in my opinion.
The article you refer to does not support the denialist assertions
If you read the entire article then you must have read this:
"But those scientists who are equally passionate about man's influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.
The UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.
In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors that influence global temperatures - all of which are accounted for by its models.
In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.
What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up."
Why are you trying to misrepresent the article as supporting your position?
I read the BBC article. You chose to include in your comment one fact and left out the controversy around that fact. Science is the building of theory around facts. While there are seeming anomalies in the theory of human-related or induced climate change, it is difficult to see the mass of data by the thousands of researchers studying the climate as pointing to anything more strongly than that.
The lack of geologic perspective in climate change fear mongers really shocks me. "Stop Climate Change?" The global climate has been naturally shifting between wild extremes for billions of years. Do you think you're going to stop it now? Sure our actions have to affect our surroundings to some degree, but even without us the climate would be shifting NATURALLY. And you're kidding yourself if you think scientists really have a good idea what percentage of current climate change is human-induced. Scientists don't. As Michael Crichton pointed out in one of his later novels, the science is just too young, and the models too artificial.
There are environmental organizations that are condemning, right now, calls by some climate change fear mongers to "geo-engineer" the planet's climate. NPR has been running stories interviewing "geo-engineering" advocates. We're messing with our surroundings enough - It's foolish to deliberately do more. I agree with the environmentalists in condemning such talk. No orbital panels cooling our atmosphere. No seeding the atmosphere with sulfates.
We need to re-shape our human infrastructure to meld it more thoroughly into ecosystems, allowing ecosystems to naturally adapt to natural climate change as they have been for billions of years. Less sprawl. More green roofs. More compact transportation infrastructure.
Finally, I have NEVER heard a good explanation as to why we should be so worried even though it's still COOLER in the current Holocene interglacial than it was during previous interglacials ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interglacial ). Why couldn't it be that the current warming is natural, and the earth is naturally reaching the higher temps seen during previous interglacials?
Oh yeah, and for all those worried about the increased percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere, it's been way higher in the past: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ph...on_Dioxide.png
Sure huge changes like that will kill some species. But we're not God. Climate change is natural, and all the stuff that's supposedly caused "only" by humans has been seen to occur naturally in the past.
Our goal should be to sway with natural climate change, not to stop climate change. Because climate change IS natural.
This March was the HOTTEST March in the UAH 32 year satellite record.
UAH (Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville) is run by Dr. John Christy, a well known AGW denier.
Global temperatures for February = 2nd WARMEST February in 32 years.
Global Temperatures for JANUARY = the HOTTEST January for UAH in 32 years.
NEWS: Methane Releases from Arctic Shelf May Be Much Larger and Faster Than Anticipated
NSF, National Science Foundation - March 4, 2010.
Research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is starting to leak large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.
We make over 90 million tons CO2 each DAY.
Atmospheric CO2 is rising 2ppm per year (0.5%), TWICE that of 50 years ago.
CO2 levels are 37% above the highest levels for 650,000 years.
Dissolved CO2 makes carbonic acid.
Ocean pH has already dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 and H+ ion concentration is up over 25%
In 25 years CO2 will reach 450ppm which most oceanographers warn will interfere with growth of calcium carbonate forming plankton and corals.
By 2100, at current rates of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, average ocean pH will drop 0.3 - 0.4 and be @ 7.8 with an increase in acidic H+ ion concentration of 150-200%.
That will cause a 50% DECREASE of ocean carbonate ions (CO3).
Carbonate ions are needed for growth by plankton & corals at the base of the ocean's food chain.
The problem is that this young science studying this vastly complex system wants to effectively destroy human society as we know it for the foreseeable future without seemingly believing they have to make their case.
Peer review has been shown to be badly damaged in this instance.
The deniers are trying to work from an empirical basis but are being prevented from doing so by willful obstructionism and a petty elitist attitude of people who should know better.
If there is no reason to be obstructionist and petty then why do it? Reason insists that they must have a reason. That is the problem.
If you want us to believe that doomsday is nigh the workings that must be shown are yours.
What makes it infinitely worse is that these are the very same sorts of people who stopped nuclear technology dead in its tracks in the eighties. Time to step back and let the science talk. All this "skeptic" and "denier" talk is unscientific from the get-go. If you are not skeptical you are not doing science. If you accept climate science on the say so of scientists you are no better than a medieval serf.
I challenge all those who believe in global warming to give their own money to the cause.
Is it not worth saving yourselves and the rest of humanity?
Or is it all just one big grab for money and power.
The previous comment is spoken like a true denier - cherry-picking and completely misrepresenting data, and citing one source: BBC news. Classic. In any case, whether one "believes" in global warming or not, to consider that our current energy economy is in any way sustainable is foolish. It won't be sunbeams and windmills anytime soon, but he attitude expressed is smug, pseudo-intelletctual, and dangerous.
Hah, classic, absolutely classic Alice in Wonderland thinking here from McEwan: The man advocating for a cause that is currently stymied by its comprehensive lack of empirical evidence wants to stick the other side with the burden of proof.
Those are some serious cajones, McEwan.
Here's some empirical evidence for you: The earth - is not - warming. It hasn't been, per EVERY system of atmospheric measurement, since the late 90s. Here it is, straight from the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8299079.stm
But this is silly stuff anyway. The burden of proof is NOT on the skeptics - they're not the ones asking to comprehensively overhaul the world's economic system and "replace" the world's energy with systems that don't work yet on the basis of a hypothesis that is currently utterly unproven.
So where is YOUR proof McEwan? It's not in the ice cores. Those went POOF when the Vostok cores showed that historically warming spikes have come before carbon spikes, not after. It's not in the tree ring data - those are inconsistent and very few people take them seriously at this point. It's not in the atmospheric measurements. It's not the global warming hotspot, which has failed to materialize in spite of thousands of radiosonde tests desperately seeking it. It's certainly not in the vaunted "consensus" which (a) never existed and (b) even if it were to exist would constitute evidence.
The fact is: There is no evidence establishing human activity as the primary driver of global warming. None.