Book Review: Atmosphere of Hope

By Citizens for Public Justice

From The Catalyst, Summer 2016

Atmosphere of Hope: The Search for Solutions to the Climate Crisis
By Tim Flannery
HarperCollins, 2015

Reviewed by Miriam Mahaffy

Atmosphere of Hope gives us a clear and concise overview of the current climate crisis. Tim Flannery, the Chief Councillor of the Australian Climate Council, wrote this book before the Paris climate negotiations in December 2015. In it, he explains the technological solutions needed to meet our energy needs and reduce carbon emissions.

Governments have made cumulative pledges under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. But Flannery says they would only cut half of the emissions needed to avoid more than 2°C of global warming. And humans are almost certain to overshoot a safe amount of emissions. So Flannery hopes in the development of technologies that can remove carbon from the atmosphere.

In the last several chapters, Flannery explains several of the most feasible carbon removal technologies and explores the costs of scaling them up. He is honest about the monetary costs and possible side-effects of these developments. And he is adamant that these technologies must accompany, not replace, deep cuts in emissions from fossil fuels.

Flannery’s account of climate science and technologies is well-organized, accessible, and informative. This book could have considered the barriers or benefits the market will put on these technologies as they become commercialized.

But it does cite a broad range of peer-reviewed sources and presents a balanced exploration of contentious issues. The reader is inspired and equipped to contribute to current conversations with a concrete understanding of what solutions to climate change could look like.

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