People in Greenhouses
Nowadays, there is a lot of information related to one of the most current global problems – greenhouse effect and global warming. The greenhouse problem is described in details in the Part 4 of the book The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery. This part is called “People in Greenhouses”; the name of the chapter tells the reader what it is about. In this part, Flannery tries to tell the reader that the problem of turning to alternative sources of energy and reducing the rates of fossil fuels emitted into the atmosphere is not as easy as it seems to be. The author points out that several steps on the way of cleaning the atmosphere are already made, but there are lots of tasks to perform. Flannery accomplishes the task of providing the reader with the truthful information supported by facts in order to give an individual an idea about the current events in environmental protection.
The part consists of 6 chapters, each of which deals with the separate issue related to the greenhouse problem. The first is “A Close Run Thing.” Here, the author closely examines the effect of CFCs onto the ozone layer in the atmosphere and its consequences. Flannery gives a plenty of examples to support his theory such as the rates of ozone amount change or increasing cases of skin cancer. These examples together with a detailed explanation of what ozone is, CFCs, ozone holes, and the consequences they produce to the Earth’s atmosphere make the reader think over this problem seriously.
In the next chapter “The Road to Kyoto”, Flannery examines the steps taken by global society in order to eliminate the problem of the greenhouse gases on the political level. The author chronologically considers all the steps taken towards the problem solution and “the most bitterly contested international treaty to be realized” – the Kyoto Protocol and its detailed analysis. Again, the arguments and reasons are supported with solid examples such as Australian rate of carbon dioxide emission, MEGABARE economic model, and the essence of the carbon dollar, illustrating the main problems of the Protocol.
In the next chapter, Flannery claims that many countries have calculated the cost for reducing the amount of CO2 gas torn into the atmosphere programs. This position is supported by the studies of Goodstein, Nordhaus and Jorgenson and others. In addition, the author argues that people are usually blind to the effects of global warming and consider that warmth is good and cold is bad. Flannery gives an example of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as the effect of overheating.
“People in Greenhouses shouldn’t tell lies” – the next chapter – points out that while the problem of global warming is of high relevance and importance, the political and commercial authorities deny the harm done by greenhouse gases. The author gives examples of various programs and commercial organizations like Western Fuels claiming the Earth is deficient in CO2, George W. Bush’s administration lobbying the fight against fossil fuels, or Global Climate Coalition making the greatest damage to combat against fossil fuels emission.
The described situation does not mean that there are no solutions. Flannery, in the next chapter, considers the most common engineering solution to the greenhouse gases problem. These ways are fertilizing the South Ocean with iron filings, pumping compressed CO2 directly into the ocean depths, or injecting into the ground. However, these ways are both too expensive and useless or make a lot of harm to the areas where the CO2 gas is pumped. Flannery supports his findings with studies results made by various scientists.
Finally, the last chapter tells the reader about the ways to replace common energy sources like coal and oil by less harmful to the atmosphere ones. These are gas which is becoming quite popular and hydrogen which is said to be “clear”. However, basing on the current researches, the author claims that these variants fall short of expectation since they are either related to leakage problems or too expensive and complex in implementation.