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Distributed for American Meteorological Society

Climate Conundrums

What the Climate Debate Reveals About Us

It is generally assumed that, in polite company, you don’t talk politics, religion, or money. But in recent years, it seems “climate change” needs to be added to that list. Incorporating all of the above, few topics can divide a dinner party faster. Yet, while much ink has been spilled on both sides of the issue, few have considered the debate itself and what it reveals about modern culture.

Climate Conundrums is a journey through how we as humans think, individually and collectively, about the debate. It eschews rhetoric or fist-pounding conclusions and instead explores our ongoing attempts to reach a societal understanding about climate change and how we should respond to it. The essays throughout are broadly organized around our relationship with nature, the challenges facing human society, and the path ahead for civilization. Each begins with a question—Can we make nature better? Could science and religion reconcile?—and from there follows an introspective path through all sides of the debates. Some are longstanding issues, such as whether humans are growing increasingly distant from nature. Others are brought on by recent developments, such as whether technology can eventually solve all of society’s needs.

While no final answers are given, the insights that come from reflecting on these questions can help us better find our way and better connect with each other across the climate divide.

240 pages | 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2014

Philosophy of Science

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Table of Contents



Part 1: Humans and nature

1. Are humans distinct from nature?

2. Can we make nature better?

3. Is nature sustainable?

Part 2: Humans and society

4. Should society’s future matter to us?

5. Will civilization advance indefinitely?

6. Can we engineer everything?

7. Is knowledge always beneficial?

8. Could science and religion reconcile?

Part 3: Humans and destiny

9. Do we live in a special time?

10. What will become of us?

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