Book Review - Climate Change Begins at Home

Simple ways to live greener in Climate Change Begins at Home, reviewed by Carolyn Cross

Climate Change Begins at Home: Life on the Two-way Street of Global Warming
Publishing Editor: David Reay
Pub: Macmillan
ISBN-13: 978-0-230-00754-3
ISBN-10: 0-230-00754-6
Price: £8.99

Dr David Reay researches greenhouse gas emissions at Edinburgh University, but far from being a stuffy academic, his pragmatic, down-to-earth approach illustrates the key dangers, causes and potential solutions to climate change in the most concise way possible.

Central to Reay's argument is the fictional Carbone family - fictional, but  easily recognisable among ourselves, friends and families. The Carbones, who live a stereotypical middle class existence (albeit in the US) are an effective tool in auditing emission-producing behaviour and highlighting ways that we all, as individuals, can affect the future of our planet and fellow human beings.

The good news is that simple measures within the home, such as replacing tungsten light bulbs with low energy alternatives, could cut UK greenhouse emissions by 25 per cent - the target we need to hit to slash the cost of flood damage by a quarter.

Similarly, food consumption habits are crucial, particularly when it comes to meat production, which requires substantially higher levels of water and land use, and results in high rates of methane emissions. To prove the point, Reay says: "Just two fewer beef burgers or steaks a month can slash your annual greenhouse gas output by a third of a tonne."

Climate Change Begins at Home pulls no punches about the consequences of carrying on regardless - health, the economy and food production will all be at risk. It's easy to recognise this in principle, but Reay's achievement is to bring it all back to a day-to-day level, both in terms of the problem, and the solution.

Carolyn Cross