I can't recommend this work highly enough, because Mark Hertsgaard focuses not solely on climate change mitigation efforts, but more importantly on the adaptation that will be required regardless of the success or failure of mitigation strategies.
I've read abundant commentary on how we must reduce the carbon output of our societies, and of course am a huge proponent of energy efficiency improvements as one slice of that puzzle.
But what struck me is that even if we successfully reduce our carbon emissions to sustainable levels tomorrow, we still face climate change that is already "locked in" from previous activities.
That climate change will include no small measure of sea level rise (at least two feet based on conservative estimates, and perhaps much more), weather disruptions (mega-storms and changes in rainfall patterns), and potential water and food supply crises.
So we have two immense challenges, not one, and the alternative is "suffering" in Hertsgaard's calculus. We are going to loose land, more people are likely to go hungry, and mass migration will occur - some of this is going to happen even if we are nominally successful at mitigation and adaptation.
For my own part, the book reminded me to double-down on my commitment to finding sustainable solutions for water supply in my community, including the conservation, recharge, and reuse measures we've been considering for some time now. I'm also meeting this week with our Resource Conservation District to better understand how the rise in San Francisco Bay levels will affect the southern shore of the Sonoma Valley, and what we plan to do to prepare for that.
In summary, Hot is a thought-provoking work, using compelling examples of climate change adaptation strategies from around the globe. It's well worth adding to your reading list.