Most serious climate watchers already know the name Joe Romm pretty well. A physicist, author, and a top Dept. of Energy official during the Clinton Administration, Romm now runs Climate Progress, a must-read for followers of green politics and climate science. His latest book is Straight Up -- and it's an essential guide to climate, energy, and politics for the blog era. First: why trust Romm as your climate guide? There are dozens of books on climate change that spill into the 'Environment' aisles these days, especially around Earth Day. I already touched on his pedigree in the above paragraph, but suffice to say that nobody knows the game like Romm -- both in terms of ability to interpret and explain the latest science, and in boasting expertise on the politics and policy process that, whether you like it our not, is going to be instrumental in mitigating climate change on a large scale.
Romm's ability to parse both the politics and science, as well as his influential stature in the beltway, (not to mention a reader-friendly voice) make him among the eminent voices on the topic. It's why Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, the Rolling Stone, and Time count him as the most influential climate blogger.
The book is a whirlwind tour through the state of climate change, the media that so badly neglects it, the politicians who attempt to address it (and those who obstruct their efforts and ignore said science), and the clean energy solutions that could help get us out of the mess.
Straight Up is an interesting kind of tome -- it's essentially a carefully curated selection of the best blog posts from Climate Progress, with additional exposition to provide content. So why buy a book that's a collection of blog posts, that are available online, for free? Here's why: because there's an ungodly amount of information and seemingly unfathomable number of blog posts on the site (the man is prolific). And while you can get good info on plenty of climate topics with ease, without a guide, you may find yourself staring at 17 open tabs and trying to keep track of everything you're reading, and link leads to link to . . .
That's what happened to me, anyways, when I was first turned on to Climate Progress -- it took me days to effectively absorb all the information I was sorting through. Quite frankly, I wish I had this book then -- it provides an important narrative flow, and condenses everything you need to know about the current state of climate science and politics into a nice, quick read. While extremely thorough, it may make some beginners' head spin, and it can get combative and wonky in places.
But such is the nature of this beast -- climate change should make a beginner's head spin, and as Romm makes clear, addressing it is going to be messy, politically charged, and daunting battle. I heartily recommend this book for anyone looking to join the side intent on taking science seriously and preserving a livable climate.
Straight Up is available from Island Press.