This collection pulls together key documents from the scientific and political history of climate change, including congressional testimony, scientific papers, newspaper editorials, court cases, and international declarations. Far more than just a compendium of source materials, the book uses these documents as a way to think about history, while at the same time using history as a way to approach the politics of climate change from a new perspective.
“Howe has done a huge service in bringing together, in one concise volume, many of the key documents related to the growing understanding of climate change from the nineteenth-century to the present. A must-have for anyone teaching or researching this crucial topic.”
—Naomi Oreskes, co-author of Merchants of Doubt and author of The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future
Read a commentary by the author about the March for Science on Process, the blog of the Organization of American Historians.
Other books for your climate change history reading list:
Editor in chief Larin McLaughlin and senior acquisitions editor Catherine Cocks are representing the press. Join us and UBC Press at our booth as we celebrate 40 years of environmental history and debut new titles across environmental studies, and in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books and Culture, Place, and Nature series.
Author Darren Speece will sign copies of Defending Giants at the booth on Thursday, March 30th at 3 p.m.
Through mid-May we are partnering on a few big book launch events and hope you will join us! Looking for more in the meantime? The University of Washington is celebrating Earth Day 2016 across Seattle, Tacoma, Bothell, and beyond. Check out the UW Earth Day events page for more information. Follow #EarthDay and #EarthDay2016 for other events and activities near you!
Tuesday, May 3, 7:30 p.m. // Great Hall, 1119 Eighth Avenue (enter on Eighth Avenue), Seattle, WA 98101 // Panelists include James Rasmussen, Duwamish Tribal member and director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and moderator Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times environmental reporter. // BUY TICKETS
In 1958, Charles David Keeling began measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. His project launched a half century of research that has expanded our knowledge of climate change but done little to curb its effects. In Behind the Curve: Climate Science and the Politics of Global Warming, Joshua Howe explores the history of global warming from its roots as a scientific curiosity to its place at the center of international environmental debates. The book follows the story of rising CO2—illustrated by the now famous Keeling Curve—while highlighting the relationships between scientists, environmentalists, and politicians as climate science evolved and as policy debates unfolded. In today’s guest post, UW Press senior designer Thomas Eykemans recounts his efforts to create a book cover that incorporated an iconic graphic while also reflecting the human and environmental components of climate change.
The Keeling Curve measures the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere at Mauna Loa from 1960–2013.
Howe writes that “the Keeling Curve [is] one of the simplest and most powerful images in the iconography of anthropogenic climate change.” It is central to the argument of the book and appears again and again throughout, even inspiring the title. It became obvious that it had to play some role in the design of the cover. My challenge lay in how to present it in an engaging and appealing way.
My initial concepts were purely graphical, exploring an interplay of typography, color, and the curve. I liked the idea of warm and cool colors defining the foreground and background. The placement of the title could also play with being in front or behind. A flowchart of a complex governmental report provided an interesting contrast to the simplicity of the curve.
Early concepts paired the Keeling Curve with various typographic and color combinations.
We were saddened to learn that Billy Frank Jr. passed away on May 5th. Frank, a member of the Nisqually tribe, was a tireless advocate for Native fishing rights in the Northwest. President Obama issued a statement about Frank. The Seattle Times and The New York Times, as well as many other publications, ran obituaries and remembrances. We’d like to contribute our own tribute to Billy Frank Jr. with this quote that we think shows some of the passion that fueled his lifelong commitment to achieving Native American and environmental justice:
In this guest blog post, Joshua Howe challenges individuals and civic leaders to move beyond the popular “think globally, act locally” mentality and adopt more practical paths toward environmental responsibility. Howe’s book, Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming, explores similar civic-environmental quandaries, arguing that climate scientists’ failure to effectively engage politicians and the public has impeded our ability to respond to the climate crisis.
Think globally, act locally. Since its first iteration in the late 1960s, the bumper sticker exhortation has come to represent the heart of environmental awareness in modern American culture. The slogan tells us how we as environmentally responsible middle- or upper-middle-class Americans can live ecologically moral lives, and collectively do nothing short of “save the world.” In practical terms, the sticker on that Prius you saw this morning is telling you to compost your coffee cup, think about Bangladesh, and feel just a little bit better about things.
But “think globally, act locally” is actually a much bigger ask than composting your coffee cup and thinking about Bangladesh. The slogan demands that you construct a way of being in and thinking about the world that completely transcends the boundaries of normal human experience. That is, to think globally and act locally, you are supposed to use concerns about an abstract, largely scientific concept to guide your everyday behavior.
We do this in practical ways all the time. When you look at a map and use that map as a guide to navigate a city, for example, your bird’s-eye-view way of thinking about the city provides a framework to guide a series of much more direct human interactions with stop lights, pedestrians, and that Prius with the bumper sticker. Your ability to marry your cartographic perspective to your street-level experience enables you to get to Whole Foods and back again with only a minimal amount of circumlocution.