Coming Climate Crisis?: Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix

Overview

Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, distinguished NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a deeply knowledgeable overview of global conditions past and present, the author lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of various projects now under consideration to modify ...
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Coming Climate Crisis?: Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix

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Overview

Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, distinguished NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a deeply knowledgeable overview of global conditions past and present, the author lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of various projects now under consideration to modify future climate. In one compact volume, Parkinson presents a coherent synopsis of the 4.6-billion-year history of climate change on planet Earth—both before and after humans became a significant factor—and explores current concerns regarding continued global warming and its possible consequences. She ranges over the massive geoengineering schemes being proposed and why we need to be cautious about them, the limitations of current global climate models and projections, the key arguments made by those skeptical of the mainstream views, and the realistic ways we can lessen destructive human impacts on our planet. While discussing all of these polarizing topics, the author consistently shows respect for the views of alarmists, skeptics, and the vast majority of people whose positions lie somewhere between those two extremes. The book clarifies some of the most contentious points in the climate debate, and in the process treats us to a fascinating discussion interweaving Earth history, science, the history of science, and human nature. Readers will be rewarded with a genuine understanding of a complex issue that could be among the most important facing humankind in the coming decades.
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Editorial Reviews

Stephen P. Leatherman
This is a book that the author was compelled to write and that everyone needs to read. The climate debate is fierce and polarized, resulting in serious public confusion. Dr. Parkinson has a reasoned, nonadversarial way of illuminating key contentious issues that must be clearly understood before policymakers consider launching initiatives with potentially huge economic and environmental consequences.
John E. Walsh
This essential book offers a much-needed assessment of our present understanding of climate change. Written with care and attention to detail, it delivers a compelling message that could influence how humankind responds to climate change. It also provides a balanced perspective and unique insights into today's scientific process that should be required reading for scientists, the media, and the public alike. Books by others . . . cannot begin to compete with this book’s insights into the scientific process (gained by Parkinson’s more than thirty years in the scientific trenches) or with the balance in the presentation.
Lonnie Thompson
Claire Parkinson is an accomplished, respected, and widely published scientist whose opinions on climate change and its solutions are well worth our attention. . . . Parkinson provides an excellent overview of Earth history, the factors affecting Earth’s climate and environment, and how those factors have changed over time. . . . She recommends that humanity exhibit extreme caution when considering geoengineering projects. At this juncture in Earth history, the stakes could not be higher as 6.8 billion people currently rely upon the Earth system for survival.
New York Times
Dr. Parkinson, whose book deals largely with the evidence that human actions are altering climates, notes that 'good intentions do not necessarily lead to good results.' So far, she writes, humanity’s record of environmental manipulation does not inspire confidence. . . . Humanity is already engaged in a gigantic geoengineering experiment, one that has been under way, however inadvertently, since people started large-scale burning of fossil fuels 150 years ago. So far, the world’s efforts to act together on the problem have been, to be charitable, unimpressive. The lesson, as [Parkinson puts] it, might therefore lie not in figuring out how to 'hack the planet' but rather to change things so that planetary hacking will not be needed at all.
Ocean News and Technology
Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change.
CHOICE
Purposeful modification of climate is not a new concept, but it has received renewed attention due to recent and anticipated global warming. In Coming Climate Crisis? Parkinson (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) examines proposed environmental manipulation strategies for climate change mitigation. The book first addresses climate system behavior, focusing on long-term change and the relative roles of natural and human drivers, including an impressive treatment of uncertainty in the understanding of past, current, and future climate. Though Parkinson subscribes to the consensus view on climate change, she does not hesitate to identify instances in which knowledge is limited. This balanced overview of the climate system and its sensitivity is one of the strengths of this book. The remainder of the work focuses on historical weather modification and proposed geoengineering strategies, pointing out the unintended consequences of the former whenever possible. This historical perspective, and demonstration that the understanding of proposed techniques is imperfect, is used to support the author's cautious position on geoengineering. Instead, Parkinson calls for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and greater research into the possible side effects of proposed geoengineering approaches. Recommended.
Chronicle of Higher Education
NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings a welcome skepticism. She shows the inadequacy of many of the models on which climate forecasts are based. She warns against large-scale, simplistic solutions. For instance, if carbon dioxide is a major factor contributing to the greenhouse effect (which it is), then a simple solution might be to plant more trees to soak it up. But as Parkinson points out, trees also soak up solar radiation, so the overall effect could be more heat, not less.
Physicsworld.Com
I also think that insults are unlikely to change minds, and that too many books about climate change (on both sides) are 'preaching to the choir.' If we want a better-quality debate, Parkinson's approach seems closer to the mark.
The New York Times
Dr. Parkinson, whose book deals largely with the evidence that human actions are altering climates, notes that 'good intentions do not necessarily lead to good results.' So far, she writes, humanity’s record of environmental manipulation does not inspire confidence. . . . Humanity is already engaged in a gigantic geoengineering experiment, one that has been under way, however inadvertently, since people started large-scale burning of fossil fuels 150 years ago. So far, the world’s efforts to act together on the problem have been, to be charitable, unimpressive. The lesson, as [Parkinson puts] it, might therefore lie not in figuring out how to 'hack the planet' but rather to change things so that planetary hacking will not be needed at all.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
I was captivated by the detailed descriptions of many examples of past attempts by humans to manipulate the weather and climate. . . . The author's excellent understanding of the climate system and current climate issues comes through strongly. . . . A good book written by a climate scientist using easy-to-understand language, with in-depth discussions and broad coverage of the climate issues that are facing our society today. It is well worth reading for anyone who is interested in or concerned about our climate.
ForeWord Reviews
Parkinson is a NASA climatologist and argues against hasty decision-making in the face of potential global warming. She works to eliminate the polarization of the climate change debate, instead focusing on key issues and facts that should be thoroughly considered prior to the initiation of large-scale preventative projects. She emphasizes the need for evaluating climate change on a geologic scale, rather than relying on year-to-year data, in order to discern accurate, noteworthy patterns of change. Striving to inform, Parkinson combines several factors of time, resources, and behavior in her clarifying work.
Choice
Purposeful modification of climate is not a new concept, but it has received renewed attention due to recent and anticipated global warming. In Coming Climate Crisis? Parkinson (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) examines proposed environmental manipulation strategies for climate change mitigation. The book first addresses climate system behavior, focusing on long-term change and the relative roles of natural and human drivers, including an impressive treatment of uncertainty in the understanding of past, current, and future climate. Though Parkinson subscribes to the consensus view on climate change, she does not hesitate to identify instances in which knowledge is limited. This balanced overview of the climate system and its sensitivity is one of the strengths of this book. The remainder of the work focuses on historical weather modification and proposed geoengineering strategies, pointing out the unintended consequences of the former whenever possible. This historical perspective, and demonstration that the understanding of proposed techniques is imperfect, is used to support the author's cautious position on geoengineering. Instead, Parkinson calls for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and greater research into the possible side effects of proposed geoengineering approaches. Recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442213265
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/8/2012
  • Series: Why of Where Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,398,953
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Claire L. Parkinson is a senior fellow and climatologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where she has worked for more than 30 years. An award-winning scientist, she is especially well known for her research on polar sea ice and its connections to the broader climate system, which is complemented by her role as Project Scientist for the Aqua satellite mission. She is the author of several books, including Earth from Above: Using Color-Coded Satellite Images to Examine the Global Environment and Our Changing Planet: The View from Space. She lives in the Washington, DC, area.
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Table of Contents

Part I: The Earth System and Its Ever-Changing Nature
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: 4.6 Billion Years of Global Change
Chapter 3: Abrupt Climate Change
Part II: The Human Factor
Chapter 4: A Short History of Human Impacts
Chapter 5: The Future: Why Some People Are So Concerned while Others Aren't
Part III: Good Intentions and Geoengineering
Chapter 6: Good Intentions Gone Awry
Chapter 7: Geoengineering Schemes
Chapter 8: The Record on Smaller-Scale Attempted Modifications
Part IV: Further Cautionary Considerations
Chapter 9: The Possible Fallibility of Even a Strong Consensus
Chapter 10: The Unknown Future: Model Limitations
Chapter 11: Compounding Social Pressures
Part V: Avoiding Paralysis despite Uncertainty
Chapter 12: What Are the Alternatives?
Chapter 13: Closing Plea
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