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Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future

by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
05/2014
ISBN:
9780231169547
Format:
Pbk 104 pages
Price:
AU$24.99 NZ$26.08
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Instructors
& Academics:
The year is 2393, and a senior scholar of the Second People's Republic of China presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment, the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies, entered into a Penumbral period in the early decades of the twenty-first century, a time when sound science and rational discourse about global change were prohibited and clear warnings of climate catastrophe were ignored. What ensues when soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, drought, and mass migrations disrupt the global governmental and economic regimes? The Great Collapse of 2093.

This work is an important title that will change how readers look at the world. Dramatizing climate change in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, this inventive, at times humorous work reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called “carbon industrial complex” that have turned the practice of sound science into political fodder. The authors conclude with a critique of the philosophical frameworks, most notably neo-liberalism, that do their part to hasten civilization’s demise.

Based on sound scholarship yet unafraid to tilt at sacred cows in both science and policy, this book provides a welcome moment of clarity amid the cacophony of climate change literature. It includes a lexicon of historical and scientific terms that enriches the narrative and an interview with the authors.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Coming of the Penumbral Age
2. The Frenzy of Fossil Fuels
3. Market Failure
Epilogue
Lexicon of Archaic Terms
Interview with the Authors
Notes
About the Authors

The Collapse of Western Civilization illustrates the potential dangers from climate change, which can help readers think more clearly about the risk management choices society faces. The book may also encourage scientists to reflect on their role in society. If it helps scientists engage more effectively with the public by focusing on the key strengths of science, the book could help improve a flawed political system and enhance the potential for all branches of science to further benefit society.
Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. Her 2004 essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” cited by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth (2006), led to op-ed pieces in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and to Congressional testimony in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. With Erik Conway, she is the author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Erik Conway is a historian of science and technology employed by the California Institute of Technology. He recently received a NASA History award for “pathbreaking contributions to space history ranging from aeronautics to Earth and space sciences” and an AIAA History Manuscript Award for his fourth book,. Atmospheric Science at NASA: A History.