This new edition of the State of the World provides hope amidst the grim certainty that we are living in the early years of a vast unplanned change in the planet’s climate. All the authors in this book agree that it is anything but too late to save the climate for an enduring human civilization. Yet the subtitle was chosen carefully and after much discussion: We are entering a warming world. Human alterations of the atmosphere and climate will without doubt outlive the readers of this book. But we are privileged to live in a brief window of time when human beings can act decisively to stop the warming before its impacts become impossible to reverse or to tolerate. How we handle the challenge ahead will make for history on an epic time scale.
The first chapter in State of the World 2009 presents the climate dilemma; the second, the emissions path needed to glide toward a safe landing. The third and fourth describe the needed transitions toward carbon-absorbing forestry and food production and toward a low-carbon and eventually a no-carbon energy future. The fifth lays out the importance of building resilience to climate change. The sixth proposes components of the agreement that nations must reach to begin stabilizing the climate, even while adapting to a warming world. And in another first for State of the World, the middle of the book features a large selection of short pieces called Climate Connections. These take on 22 critical topics on the theme of preventing and addressing climate change. The book ends with a Climate Change Reference Guide and Glossary that aims to be a useful primer for following the developments on climate change that will unfold this year.
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