Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Atmosphere of Hope

Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis

by Tim Flannery

A decade after his groundbreaking book The Weather Makers, Tim Flannery argues that Earth’s climate system is fast approaching a crisis but that there is a promising “third way” forward.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 272
  • Publication Date October 11, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2565-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

A decade ago, Tim Flannery’s #1 international bestseller, The Weather Makers, was one of the first books to break the topic of climate change out into the general conversation. Today, Earth’s climate system is fast approaching a crisis. Political leadership has not kept up, and public engagement with the issue of climate change has declined. Opinion is divided between optimists who think technology will solve our problems and pessimists who feel that catastrophe is inevitable.

Time is running out, but Flannery argues that catastrophe is not inevitable. Around the world people are now living with the consequences of an altered climate–with intensified or more frequent storms, wildfires, droughts and floods. For some it’s already a question of survival. Drawing on the latest science, Atmosphere of Hope gives a snapshot of the trouble we are in and more crucially, proposes a new way forward, including rapidly progressing clean technologies and a “third way” of soft geo-engineering. Tim Flannery, with his inimitable style, makes this urgent issue compelling and accessible. This is a must-read for anyone interested in our global future.


“An informative tour of promising multi-pronged approaches to one of humanity’s biggest challenges. Flannery’s solution-focused quest is especially timely.” —Booklist

“Thoughtful, candid and—yes—ultimately upbeat, Atmosphere of Hope could not be more timely. It is just the book the world needs right now.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction 

“Flannery argues for renewed optimism in human capabilities to reverse the destabilizing effects of climate change. For years, the author has been in the forefront of spreading the warning of climate change’s dire consequences to a broad audience . . . Flannery crisply outlines what is now known and conjectured about the human influence on climate change  . . . and he makes an intriguing case for the capture and storage of the byproducts of the damage already done. A sharp summary of energy potentialities, where the good and the bad reside in human hands, hearts, and minds.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The book does a remarkably good job of arguing that there is still hope for averting catastrophic climate change . . . [Flannery] fully acknowledges the steep challenges and serious obstacles we face. So when he affirms that a path to averting catastrophic climate change remains in place, we know the conclusion is not reached capriciously . . . Flannery closely examines the relevant developments in renewable energy; he describes what is already being accomplished, and how these technologies might be scaled up in the years ahead . . . Flannery’s exploration of the climate change problem is comprehensive. He covers everything from the underlying basic science to the nitty-gritty details of prospective solutions. The book is at its best when laying out the latter . . . What Flannery provides—a convincing defense for the position that a path to averting catastrophic climate change still exists—is invaluable.” —Michael Mann, Los Angeles Review of Books

“I’m glad Tim Flannery has written this book, and I hope a lot of policymakers get to read it ahead of the Paris meeting. Above all, it will help them appreciate that against the effort and money demanded by carbon removal, deep and early emissions cuts are a cakewalk.” —Independent Australia 

“Timely . . . provide[s] invaluable background to the Paris talks.” —Guardian (UK)


Are we doomed to spiral into the chaos of dangerous climate change? Or will we, at this late stage, perform the perfect three-point turn that’s required to avoid disaster, and steer humanity to a pathway where emissions do not reach the 450ppm concentration of CO2 that is the safe guardrail? I do not believe that we upright apes are capable of perfection, so other options must be canvassed.

Could we adapt to a seriously destabilizing climate? This would mean defending or relocating our great coastal cities, dealing with those made homeless by rising waters at the same time that we pay the ever-rising costs of climatic extremes? Alternatively, is there any hope that we can geo-engineer our way out with schemes to put sulphur into the stratosphere, or pump liquid CO2 into the ocean depths? Or is there another way (as opposed to adaptation or hard geo-engineering) that might buy us time? This “third way,” as I’ve come to think of it, uses the power of life itself and the Earth system to draw CO2 out of the air and sea. As it results in changes in the Earth system, it might be counted as a form of geo-engineering, but it is qualitatively different in that it builds on processes that are as old as life itself, and seeks to directly reduce the human-caused greenhouse gases.