April 30, 1990 12:00 PM

by Michael Oppenheimer and Robert H. Boyle

“The year is 2050. Global warming has remade the face of the Earth.” Americans have swarmed northward to escape heat, fires and flooding. Duluth now bulges with 1.3 million people; Toronto has 11 million. In 2015, alligators had reached the Potomac River. In 2031, Washington, D.C., had sweltered almost three months in 90°-plus weather, and Congress voted to move the summer capital to Marquette, Mich.

This scenario, the authors say, is perfectly plausible if the average global temperature rises just 3 degrees. More frightening is this disagreeable complication: The atmosphere reflects a 40-year lag time in gases buildup—meaning that what we’re experiencing today is actually the effect of what we were pouring into the air circa 1950.

With remarkable calm, Boyle (an environmental writer) and Oppenheimer (director of the New York City-based Global Atmosphere Program) lay out a plan for an economic transition to cleaner solar and hydrogen fuel energy. They urge scientists to end their quarrels over statistical models and methodological questions so they can focus on solutions; they call on politicians to look beyond the next election. Then, perhaps, our children won’t have to debate global warming in 2030 in their homes north of the Arctic Circle. (Basic, $19.95)

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