Hot Air

Hot Air

Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.
Here’s a clear, believable book for Canadians concerned about our situation — and it offers a solution.

It’s a brilliant mix. To “Canada’s best mind on the environment,” Mark Jaccard, who won the 2006 Donner Prize for an academic book in this area, you add Nic Rivers, a researcher who works with him at Simon Fraser University. Then you add Jeffrey Simpson, the highly respected Globe and Mail columnist, to punch the message home in a clear, hard-hitting way. The result is a unique book.

Most other books on energy and climate change are: (a) terrifying or (b) academic or (c) quirky, advocating a single, neat solution like solar or wind power.

This book is different. It starts with an alarming description of the climate threat to our country. Then it shifts to an alarming description of how Canadians have been betrayed by their politicians (“We’re working on it!”), their industrialists (“Things aren’t that bad, really, and voluntary guidelines will be good enough.”), and even their environmentalists (“Energy efficiency can be profitable, and people can change their lifestyles!”) All of this, of course, reinforces the myths that forceful policies are not needed.

Hot Air then lays out in convincing and easily understandable terms the few simple policies that Canada must adopt right away in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades. It even shows how these policies can be designed to have minimal negative effects.

With evidence from other countries that are successfully addressing climate change, Hot Air shows why these are the only policies that will work — and why this is a matter of life and death for all of us.

Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 2007
ISBN: 9780771080968
Characteristics: 265 p. ; 23 cm
Additional Contributors: Rivers, Nic 1976-
Jaccard, Mark Kenneth


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WVMLStaffPicks Feb 01, 2015

After the feeling of disillusionment that comes from reading the first part of this book, which is a short history of how our ever changing climate change policies have consistently failed, don’t give up. Part 2 is an interesting discussion of some measures for dealing with CO2 such as taxes, emissions trading and new technology.

Dec 05, 2011

This book starts off poorly with Jaccard's section, presenting the usual PC view that every change to anything is a negative cost and that global warming can only bring more extreme weather, famine and disaster for all. The soon-to-be-massive sea-level-rise refugee problem is mentioned only briefly; the potential real catastrophe, ocean acidification beyond the biological calcium deposition limit, isn't mentioned at all.

But then, Jeffrey Simpson takes over. He begins with a masterly dissection of how Jean Chretien blew apart a hard-won pre-Kyoto federal-provincial consensus on action. He continues with insightful details of the resulting politics that has doomed Canada to a generation of political impotence on the issue regardless of which party was in power. Simpson's section is worth the entire book.

The third section is Rivers' computer analyses of prospective courses of action. Led by an activist (Jaccard), it purports to show that market forces can solve all our problems, and that no mechanism other than market forces can achieve anything. I've worked enough with simulations to know well how easily they can be made to produce any desired result, and how often they produce the wrong answer even with the best intentions.

The message to keep from the book is that consistent long-term action is needed, and that it's political dysfunction that is preventing it. Hopefully, that will come through to enough readers to make a difference despite the book's weaknesses.

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