Audubon Magazine: What’s the Worst that Could Happen

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A high school science teacher’s new book suggests a fresh approach to  the rancorous debate about global warming.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
A Rational Response to the Climate
Change Debate

By Greg Craven
Penguin Group, 264 pages, $14.95 (paper)

Greg Craven is an Internet phenomenon. Well over four million people have viewed his 10-minute YouTube video titled “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See”—which shows him scribbling on a whiteboard, weighing the outcomes of action versus inaction on climate change—since he posted it in 2007. Spurred by its popularity, Craven made 52 follow-up videos, established a growing website, gave interviews, and just published a book. He also happens to be an exuberant high school science teacher in Oregon, with a feverish drive to reorient the climate change debate through a few simple critical thinking techniques for both warmers and skeptics.

Craven’s new book, What’s the Worst That Could Happen?, expands on his videos. Unlike most tomes on the subject, his doesn’t set out to prove that the planet is warming or not warming. Instead, Craven lays out his refreshing approach to thinking about climate change—one that aims to move the conversation away from whether the atmosphere is heating up due to human activity and toward the responsible response to a possible threat.

First off, Craven wants you to know you shouldn’t believe anything he says. One, because he doesn’t consider himself a global warming expert, and two, true to his chosen profession, he wants you to come to your own conclusions about the issue. Most of the book is devoted to supplying tools and diagrams that will help readers analyze their thinking. Craven’s goal is to quell the sophomoric shouting matches about climate change and engage everyone in a rational, well-reasoned dialogue. He recasts the discussion in a matter of sentences: “This issue is not about the question, Should I believe global warming is true? any more than starting your car is about the question, Should I believe I’m going to get into a wreck this trip?” He argues that because we can’t ever know the answer for sure (at least not until it’s too late), the more relevant question is, Do I buckle my seatbelt?

Greg’s book is an excellent resource, especially for discussions with regular folks… definitely worth a read, and a buy. 🙂


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