For two decades, merely granting credence to the phenomena of global warming could be politically divisive. Though far from the visionary move toward neutralizing emissions that many delegates had hoped, the Copenhagen climate summit acknowledged a causal relationships between first-world industry and environmental degradation and warming. As the emissions doomsday date of 2050 looms, Salem Press' three-volume subject encyclopedia on global warming provides a number of ways for students to investigate the phenomena of climate change and greenhouse gases and their effects on many species and environments.
Some articles examine an industry, such as air travel, discussing both inherent carbon production as well as potential abatement, and outlooks and trends that may influence climate and ozone. Other articles discuss the credentials of professional scientific organizations and political think tanks, which can provide helpful background information when dealing with a topic as politically volatile as this one. Other articles look at the roles of individual countries as either culpable for climate change on the basis of emissions and industrialization or as canaries in the coal mines for concerns such as rising seas. Perhaps, because the scientific debate cannot be divided from its sociopolitically charged environment, the two approaches to the material are integrated throughout. The volume defines Conservatism and Conspiracy theory, for example, one clue that the Encyclopedia is more than a purely scientific work.
Glossaries of abbreviations and common units of measure are provided; tables, maps and sidebars relieve the text throughout and, in each book, a complete table of contents reflects all three volumes as well as entries organized by category. The sensitive reader may be overcome with a sense of futility as entry after entry catalogs human effects on the earth in a sometime dispassionate manner, as well as at times including obvious statements such as: "It was difficult to reverse the petroleum trend and restructure the interdependent automobile and fuel industries" (p. 116). The reference chronicles negative consequences of carbon emissions on countries, species, environments and ways of life, the alternation of coastlines, desiccation to deforestation, with entries from Aerosols to Automobile Technology. Good historical background information is provided on the U.S. Clean Air Acts between 1955 and 1990. The weakest moment in the Encyclopedia comes in a defense of the science behind the apocalyptic film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), an argument whose inclusion really does little to mitigate the confusion of fact and fiction haunting the science. The Encyclopedia also provides a rare print resource for the student with a research topic centered around some sort of societal Collapse.
Salem Press includes access to an online subscription with local administration for networked access to an electronic version of the same text. Since online access is automatically bundled with purchase of print resources, their usefulness is expanded beyond a single reader without separate e-book purchase. The Encyclopedia of Global Warming is recommended for secondary school with environmental science curriculum and for public libraries.