CO2 Rising: The World's Greatest Environmental Challenge

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Overview

The most colossal environmental disturbance in human history is under way.

Ever-rising levels of the potent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) are altering the cycles of matter and life and interfering with the Earth's natural cooling process. Melting Arctic ice and mountain glaciers are just the first relatively mild symptoms of what will result from this disruption of the planetary energy balance. In CO2 Rising, scientist Tyler Volk explains the process at the heart of global warming and climate change: the global carbon cycle. Vividly and concisely,Volk describes what happens when CO2 is released by the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), letting loose carbon atoms once trapped deep underground into the interwoven web of air, water, and soil. To demonstrate how the carbon cycle works, Volk traces the paths that carbon atoms take during their global circuits. Showing us the carbon cycle from a carbon atom's viewpoint,he follows one carbon atom into a leaf of barley and then into an alcohol molecule in a glass of beer, through the human bloodstream, and then back into the air. He also compares the fluxes of carbon brought into the biosphere naturally against those created by the combustion of fossil fuels and explains why the latter are responsible for rising temperatures. Knowledge about the global carbon cycle and the huge disturbances that human activity produces in it will equip us to consider the hard questions that Volk raises in the second half of CO2 Rising: projections of future levels of CO2; which energy systems and processes (solar, wind, nuclear, carbon sequestration?) will power civilization in the future; the relationships among the wealth of nations, energy use, and CO2emissions; and global equity in per capita emissions. Answering these questions will indeed be our greatest environmental challenge.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Tyler Volk takes the reader on a journey of the carbon cycle from the viewpoint of individual carbon atoms. He then compares the natural release of carbon into the biosphere to that released by our use of fossil fuels. Both serve to bring the science of the carbon cycle to the reader in understandable terms." — Wildlife Activist Magazine

"Tyler Volk's CO2 Rising is a finely crafted introduction to the greenhouse problem, taking as its protagonist a little carbon atom called Dave.... If there is one book on climate change that President-elect Barack Obama should read, it might well be Tyler Volk'sCO2 Rising. Its clear, simple exposition of atmospheric chemistry is so well-written that it might even convince past-presidents." (For the full review, visit http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0812/full/climate.2008.123.html.) — EuanNisbet, Nature Reports: Climate Change

"... Volk introduces readers to Oiliver, Coaleen, and Methaniel, who unlike Dave were purposively extracted from the earth and have been in the biosphere for a much shorter period...

more than competent tour guides to the complexities of the carbon cycle." (For the full review,visit http://www.chemheritage.org/pubs/magazine/review_volk.html) — ZoeMarquardt, Chemical Heritage Newsmagazine

"... what sets CO2 Rising apart from other climate change books are its clear, concise and concrete explanations of how Earth's carbon cycle works... Dave and his fellow carbon atoms will give readers a new appreciation of how connected the world is — at least through the carbon we all share." — Erin Wayman, EarthMagazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262515214
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 9/24/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,447,779
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Tyler Volk is Science Director of Environmental Studies and Professor of Biology at New YorkUniversity. He is the author of Gaia's Body: Toward a Physiology of the Earth (MIT Press, 2003), Metapatterns: Across Space, Time, and Mind, and other books.

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