Reviewing two new books on global warming

By Wook Kim
March 10, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Reviewing two new books on global warming

These two important books present, in lucid detail, the science and politics currently shaping the debate on global warming. In truth, there really is no debate (beyond the yelpings of special-interest groups): Both authors make it clear that the international scientific community regards our planet’s steady — and potentially life-extinguishing — rise in temperature as a matter of unassailable fact. Though differing in tone, the books are complementary in agenda. The Weather Makers is an enthralling crash course in climate change that benefits from Tim Flannery’s offhand interdisciplinary brilliance (moving, in a few pages, from discussions of South African flora to deep-sea fishes to the environmental impact of cities). Field Notes, based on a series of stories Elizabeth Kolbert wrote for The New Yorker, is more precise and measured. Visiting an Inupiat community in Alaska, a butterfly expert in England, or a midlevel Bush administration official in Washington, D.C., she lets readers connect the dots to form a frightening (and still avoidable) vision of our future. Both: A