Reviews by Alexandra Witze
Hack the Planet: Science's Best Hope - or Worst Nightmare - for Averting Climate Catastrophe
How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth's Climate
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Two new books serve as guides to the latest tactic against climate change: geoengineering, the act of deliberately manipulating Earth’s climate to cool it down.
Kintisch, a reporter for the journal Science, dubs geoengineering “planethacking.” It’s an apt description for sci-fi–sounding fixes, such as spewing sulfur particles into the atmosphere or building carbon dioxide–sucking machines.
Geoengineering has gained scientific traction in the past few years, and Kintisch’s on-the-scene reporting illuminates tense discussions happening as a result, many behind closed doors. In one example of his reporter’s-notebook approach, he takes readers inside the recent Bush administration, where officials debated the wisdom of implementing global climate manipulation.
Goodell, a Rolling Stone contributor, takes a more narrative and historical approach, speaking with players such as Lowell Wood, a weapons scientist and geoengineering proponent who sprinkles e-mails about planetary doom with emoticons. Goodell’s background as a journalistic observer of technological change positions him well to probe social challenges raised by geoengineering.
Both books send a clear message: In the fight against climate change, planethacking may be a necessary, if frightening, option.Kintisch: Wiley, 2010, 288 p., $25.95; Goodell: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010, 272 p., $26.