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DEAD HEAT: The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect by Michael Oppenheimer & Robert H. Boyle (Basic/A New Republic Book: $10.95).

July 14, 1991|Charles Solomon

Oppenheimer and Boyle offer a concise overview of one of the gravest crises confronting humanity, what caused it and what can be done to prevent it from worsening. By casually dumping a variety of chemicals into the air, mankind has altered the composition of the Earth's atmosphere and begun to change the climate of the planet. As the effects of many of these compounds are cumulative (chlorofluorocarbons remain active in the atmosphere for at least a century), the Earth's average temperature will rise two to three degrees during the next century, with potentially dire consequences. However, if the governments of the industrialized nations delay acting on this very real threat because it seems inexpedient politically, as the authors assert the Reagan and Bush Administrations have done for the past decade, the rate of change will continue to accelerate, producing a rise in temperature of up to seven degrees--a change so radical that its effects are difficult to foresee.

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