Introductions to Climate Science and Policy


Jeffrey Bennett, A Global Warming Primer: Answering Your Questions About The Science, The Consequences, and The Solutions, 128 pp. (Big Kid Science, 2016).

An award winning work by an award winning astrophysicist/educator.  In this short book, the author gives an explanation of the science behind global warming; analyzes common climate change denier arguments; describes the effects of climate change; and proposes solutions. 

Possibly the first book to read if you want a compact, accurate, and accessible introduction to climate science.

A free online version can be found at

The author also has an impressive website, check it out at

Kerry Emanuel, Climate Science and Climate Risk: A Primer, 17 pp.  

Only available online as a free PDF document here.  

The primer explains how climate metrics and dynamics are evaluated, and why climate action today is important for our future.  According to the author, “it is not a picture wholly of doom and gloom, as that is not accurate, nor the best way to motivate action”. The exposition is accessible, but goes more deeply into the science and risk analysis than Jeffrey Bennet’s primer. And it’s also free!

Kerry Emanuel is an MIT professor, and one of the world’s premier hurricane experts.

He has written a beautiful (coffee-table style) book about hurricanes, their science, history, and poetry.  Read about it under books about the  Atmosphere.

A video of Emanuel's appearance before a U.S. Senate committee is here.


Michael Mann & Lee Kump, Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change, 2nd ed, 224 pp. (Pearson, 2015).  

This book explores global warming with copious graphics, illustrations, and charts that explain all aspects of climate change.  About 40% of the book presents the science of climate; the rest deals with projections for the future, the impacts of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation, and potential solutions.

The authors are distinguished climate scientists with wide experience in explaining scientific facts and their implications to general audiences.


Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd ed, 374 pp. (Penguin, 2008). This is one of the Rough Guide series.  It was shortlisted for the 2007 Royal Society of London’s Prize for Science Books. 

This book begins with a brief climate change primer in question-answer format, and then presents the symptoms at some length; revisits the science in depth, for those who want it; deconstructs the efforts to cast doubt on the science; and proposes solutions.  In just the ten years since publication of the book, some of Henson’s descriptions of the effects of climate change, and projections for the future have, sadly, been superseded by the “new normal”, but the book remains one of the best comprehensive introductions to the topic.  It may be thought of as a more detailed follow-up to the primer by Jeffrey Bennett.

Henson is one of the two experts running a blog about global weather events, called “Category Six”; it is particularly fascinating during the hurricane season.

A conversation with Robert Henson on YouTube can be found here.

In addition, The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change, revised ed516 pp.  (American Meteorological Society, 2015) may be thought of as a more detailed follow-up to Henson's The Rough Guide to Climate Change.