Chelsea Green Publishing

Carbon Shock

Pages:240 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603585576
Pub. Date August 20, 2014

Carbon Shock

A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy

Availability: In Stock

Hardcover

Available Date:
August 20, 2014

$26.00

In Carbon Shock, veteran journalist Mark Schapiro takes readers on a journey into a world where the same chaotic forces reshaping our natural world are also transforming the economy, playing havoc with corporate calculations, shifting economic and political power, and upending our understanding of the real risks, costs, and possibilities of what lies ahead.

In this ever-changing world, carbon—the stand-in for all greenhouse gases—rules, and disrupts, and calls upon us to seek new ways to reduce it while factoring it into nearly every long-term financial plan we have. But how?

From the jungles of the Amazon to the farms in California’s Central Valley, from ‘greening’ cities like Pittsburgh to rising powerhouses like China, from the oil-splattered beaches of Spain to carbon-trading desks in London, Schapiro deftly explores the key axis points of change.

For almost two decades, global climate talks have focused on how to make polluters pay for the carbon they emit. It remains an unfolding financial mystery: What are the costs? Who will pay for them? Who do you pay? How do you pay? And what are the potential impacts? The answers to these questions, and more, are crucial to understanding, if not shaping, the coming decade.

Carbon Shock evokes a world in which the parameters of our understanding are shifting—on a scale even more monumental than how the digital revolution transformed financial decision-making—toward a slow but steady acknowledgement of the costs and consequences of climate change. It also offers a critical new perspective as global leaders gear up for the next round of climate talks in 2015.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Choice, winner, Outstanding Academic Title 2015-

"This is a very important book about a subject of urgent importance. Through descriptions of personal encounters with people who are trying to cope with climate change, as well as those who are producing climate change, veteran journalist Schapiro offers readers a tour through the various sources of carbon dioxide releases and the world of those who are negatively impacted by the costs of carbon emissions. These range from the obvious sources, such as a coal-fired operation for producing electricity, to farmers who are trying to cope with climate change even while they are creating climate change by plowing the soil—which releases stored-up carbon dioxide—or by applying artificial fertilizer, which releases even more destructive gases. Despite the grim prospects, Schapiro manages to convey the importance of taking actions to mitigate climate change without losing readers by inserting only dire warnings. Instead, he produces a very readable book that includes important, but often unfamiliar, scientific information. No other book manages to do what Schapiro has accomplished in terms of its combined traits; by providing both critique and solutions, he offers a readable narrative, useful information, and dire warnings—all without being weighed down by a writer's negativity. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.”

Foreword Reviews-

"The costs of climate change are often talked about in terms of the loss of human life and environmental degradation, but the unprecedented amount of carbon in the atmosphere also has massive implications for the world economy. And when it comes to large companies that pollute and the governments that have the responsibility to regulate them, economic factors like those Mark Schapiro documents in Carbon Shock shouldn’t be overlooked. A journalist with a strong track record on the subject matter, Schapiro takes an in-depth look at this specific aspect of climate change. He does an excellent job of explaining a complicated web of interconnected economic impacts, from the way carbon offsets and credits function to how commodities from food to finance to fuel are already being affected, and how some businesses are trying to limit their risk. (…) Perhaps the strongest part of the book is Schapiro’s thorough coverage of the cap-and-trade approach, as he documents the history of carbon exchanges and clearly lays out the pros and cons of a system where industries buy the right to further pollute, and where the same challenges of any commodities market—from theft to artificial price manipulation—apply. Schapiro explains these economic issues in an accessible way, shows approaches with varying degrees of success, and adds to the evidence that numerous industries will soon have to reckon with how best to pay monetary costs as well as environmental ones.”

Publishers Weekly-

"In this thought-provoking work, journalist Schapiro (Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products) tackles the question: 'What are the costs of climate change?' In search of an answer, he embarks on a multi-year investigation that sends him across the globe. To humanize the issue, Schapiro traces the carbon footprint he leaves through such trips as a flight to Siberia, visits to the biggest commercial nursery west of the Mississippi and to Manchester (England's former textiles center), and a tour of Guangzhou, 'one of the top ten carbon-emitting provinces in a country that is itself the leading emitter.' One of the most affecting chapters recounts how an oil spill from the tanker Prestige along the coast of Galicia in 2002 devastated a nearby town's economy and cost billions in cleanup expenses. Along the way, Schapiro assesses the response from multinational corporations and governments, asserting that they don't sufficiently quantify these costs–or worse, hide them, with the help of compromised auditors. While not a deeply scientific or academic examination, Schapiro‘s tough look at how our current habits of consumption will cost us down the road, combined with his hard-hitting, journalistic style, makes for a dramatic read.”

Library Journal-

"Journalist Schapiro (Exposed) offers a highly readable explanation of the impacts of climate change on everyday life and of public policies that attempt to embed costs associated with carbon emissions into prices, including cap-and-trade and carbon taxes. His argument for such policies is economic rather than moralistic, based on a straightforward application of the economic concept of externalized costs. Where Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth made a strong case for action against climate change, ­Schapiro’s focus is on the practicalities of placing a price on carbon. His account of the vulnerabilities of carbon markets to fraud and manipulation is especially compelling. However, more insight into the factors that determine whether the costs of such policies fall on producers or consumers would have strengthened the book’s final chapter. While Schapiro is writing from a U.S. perspective, his points are drawn from a wide range of global examples of both climate change impacts and environmental policies. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in a nontechnical introduction to the rationale for, and some of the likely consequences of, economic approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Kirkus Reviews-

"Environmental journalist Schapiro (Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power, 2007) investigates the costs of our greenhouse-gas binge from new economic angles and new axes of geopolitical power. 'We can no longer rely on past events to predict future probabilities,' writes the author. 'The ground is shifting beneath our feet.' Schapiro explores the many costs of climate change: heat waves, lower rainfall in dry areas, torrential rain in wet areas, floods, refugees, public health impacts as diseases once limited to the tropics move north and south. 'Follow all those many circuits of production, follow the trails of greenhouse gasses rising into the atmosphere, and you will ultimately land upon each of us,' he writes, 'making our choices about what we consume and from where.' This is not breaking new ground, but Schapiro is particularly sharp in pointing to the elephant in the room, and not just because it is producing a great deal of methane. The costs of climate change are borne by the commons in the form of such practices as federally guaranteed insurance coverage, but most egregiously, the 'emitters of greenhouses gases get a free ride [in the U.S.]....This is known as asymmetric risk, a fine term of the financial arts that means that the public bears the risks while fossil fuels users earn the profits.' Schapiro covers a good number of projects to cut down on emissions (such as buying forests to sequester carbon dioxide, then selling that use to polluters), though we will all have to pay for pulling in the greenhouse reins, especially through the use of taxes as punitive disincentives to fossil fuel abuse and as a way to fund research into alternative energy sources. In this finely tuned study, Schapiro has some good news: Even the most fitful international negotiations admit that greenhouse gases come with a cost that must be paid.

"Can keepers of the fossil flames ever be persuaded that we’re all imperiled if we don’t de-carbonize? Is it delusional to imagine building monetary bridges to a cleaner future, so that civilization – at least the civil parts of it, including everyone’s job – might survive if we did? Is any government actually still in charge, as we face what’s surely humanity’s greatest challenge? We can be grateful that Mark Schapiro has navigated some dreaded territory – the arcana of global finance – to show with blessed clarity exactly where we are so far, what’s failed and why, what might work, and where surprising hope lies."--Alan Weisman, author of Gaviotas, The World Without Us, and Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? 

“With his skill as a writer and long experience as an investigative reporter, Mark Schapiro brings alive some unexpected angles of the most important story of our time. I thought I knew the basics of carbon and climate change, but reading this lively and intriguing book made me aware of much I didn’t know—both fascinating and disturbing.”--Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars

"In his powerful new book Carbon Shock, Mark Schapiro transcends standard discussions about the well-known culprits and ramifications of climate change and takes us on a harrowing, international exploration of the universal economic costs of carbon emissions. In his path-breaking treatise, Schapiro exposes the multinational corporate obfuscation of these costs; the folly of localized pseudo-solutions that spur Wall Street trading but don’t quantify financial costs or public risks, solve core problems, or provide socially cheaper and environmentally sounder practices; and the laggard policies of the US, Russia and China relative to the EU in fashioning longer-term remedies. Not only does Schapiro compel the case for a global effort to thwart the joint economic and environmental plundering of our planet in this formidable book, but he expertly outlines the way to get there."--Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers and It Takes a Pillage

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Schapiro

Mark Schapiro is an award-winning investigative journalist who explores the intersection between the environment, economics, and international political power. His writing appears in Harper’s, The Atlantic, Yale Environment 360, The Nation, and other publications. His most recent book, The End of Stationarity, reports from environmental tension zones around the world where the costs of climate change are being experienced and fought over. His previous book was Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power. He is an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He was formerly senior correspondent at The Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Exposed

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From tainted pet food to toxic toys, Americans can thank the successful lobbying efforts of the U.S. chemical industry for the secret ingredients in everyday products that have been linked to rising rates of infertility, endocrine system disruptions, neurological disorders, and cancer.

While the U.S. Congress stalls in the face of these dangers, the European Union has chosen to act. Strict consumer-safety regulations have forced multinationals to manufacture safer products for European consumers, while lower U.S. standards allow them to continue selling unsafe products to Americans. Schapiro's exposé shows that short of strong government action, the United States will lose not only its ability to protect citizens from environmental hazards but also, as economic priorities shift, whatever claim it has to commercial supremacy. Increasingly, products on American shelves are equated with serious health hazards, hazards that the European Union is legislating out of existence in its powerful trading bloc, a lead that even China is beginning to follow. Schapiro illustrates how the blowback from weak regulation at home carries a steep economic, as well as environmental, price.

In Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power, investigative journalist Mark Schapiro takes the reader to the front lines of global corporate and political power, where tectonic battles are being waged that will determine the physical and economic health of our children and ourselves.

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Scientists have devised a new term to explain the turmoil caused by climate change: the end of stationarity. It means that our baselines for rainfall, water flow, temperature, and extreme weather are no longer relevant—that making predictions based on past experience is no longer possible. But climate change has upended baselines in the financial world, too, disrupting the global economy in ways that are just becoming clear, leaving us unable to assess risk, and causing us to fundamentally re-think economic priorities and existing business models.

At the heart of that financial unrest is the role of carbon, and as the world moves toward making more and more polluters pay to emit it, a financial mystery unfolds: What are the costs? Who has the responsibility to pay for them? Who do you pay? How do you pay? And how will those costs ripple through the economy?

These are the questions veteran journalist Mark Schapiro attempts to answer as he illuminates the struggle to pinpoint carbon's true costs and allocate them fairly—all while bumping up against the vagaries of the free market, the lobbying power of corporations, the political maneuverings of countries, and the tolerance of everyday consumers buying a cup of coffee, a tank of gas, or an airplane ticket.

Along the way, Schapiro tracks the cost of carbon through the drought-ridden farmland of California, the jungles of Brazil, the world's greatest manufacturing center in China, the carbon-trading center of Europe, and the high-tech crime world that carbon markets have inspired. He even tracks the cost of carbon through the skies themselves, where efforts to put a price tag on the carbon left by airplanes in the no-man's land of the atmosphere created what amounted to a quiet but powerful global trade war.

The End of Stationarity deftly depicts the wild, new carbon economy, and shows us how nations, emerging and developed, teeter on its brink. Originally published in hardcover as Carbon Shock, the book is updated throughout and includes a new afterword, based on the Paris climate talks.

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AUTHOR VIDEOS

Mark Schapiro - Center for Investigative Reporting

Mark Schapiro: The Air America Interview

Mark Schapiro, author of Exposed, speaks to VT Law School -1

Mark Schapiro Addresses The Issue Of Toxins In American Products

Mark Schapiro interview on Talking Stick

Mark Schapiro on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman

Mark Schapiro, Exposed

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