Is the Temperature Rising?: The Uncertain Science of Global Warming

Is the Temperature Rising?: The Uncertain Science of Global Warming

by S. George Philander
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691050341

ISBN-13: 9780691050348

Pub. Date: 02/14/2000

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Most of us have heard the dire predictions about global warming. Some experts insist that warming has already started, and they warn of such impending disasters as the sea level rising to flood coastal cities. Others, however, have issued loud counterclaims, assuring us that global warming is a myth based on misleading data. How can we tell who is right, and how we

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Overview

Most of us have heard the dire predictions about global warming. Some experts insist that warming has already started, and they warn of such impending disasters as the sea level rising to flood coastal cities. Others, however, have issued loud counterclaims, assuring us that global warming is a myth based on misleading data. How can we tell who is right, and how we should respond? And why is there no scientific consensus on a matter of such vital importance? George Philander addresses these questions in this book, as he guides the nonscientific reader through new ideas about the remarkable and intricate factors that determine the world's climate.

In simple, nontechnical language, Philander describes how the interplay between familiar yet endlessly fascinating phenomena—winds and clouds, light and air, land and sea—maintains climates that permit a glorious diversity of fauna and flora to flourish on Earth. That interplay also creates such potent weather disrupters as El Niño and La Niña, translates modest fluctuations in sunlight into global climate changes as dramatic as the Ice Age, and determines the Earth's response to the gases we are discharging into the atmosphere, such as those that led to the ozone hole over Antarctica and those that are likely to cause global warming. In his discussion of these matters, Philander emphasizes that our planet is so complex that the scientific results will always have uncertainties. To continue to defer action on environmental problems, on the grounds that more accurate scientific results will soon be available, could lead to a crisis. To make wise decisions, it will help if the public is familiar with the geosciences, which explore the processes that make ours a habitable planet.

The book is an excellent introduction to the basics of the Earth's climate and weather, and will be an important contribution to the debate about climate change and the relationship between scientific knowledge and public affairs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691050348
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/14/2000
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.67(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
1Between the Idea and the Reality3
2Is Our Planet Fragile or Robust?11
3Light and Air31
4Why the Peak of a Mountain Is Cold55
5Capricious Clouds76
6The Climate Tapestry89
7Weather, the Music of Our Sphere106
8The Ocean in Motion125
9El Nino, La Nina, and the Southern Oscillation143
10The Paradox of the Faint Sun but Warm Earth161
11Why Summer Is Warmer than Winter: The Cycles of Seasons and of Ice Ages170
12The Ozone Hole, a Cautionary Tale183
13Global Warming, Risky Business191
App. A1.1Exponential Growth and Decay209
App. A1.2Establishing a Chronology210
App. A2.1Gaia214
App. A2.2Chaos215
App. A3.1Earthshine217
App. A3.2The Scattering of Light217
App. A3.3Blackbody Radiation218
App. A3.4Effective Temperatures of the Planets219
App. A3.5The Greenhouse Effect221
App. A4.1The Scale Height of the Atmosphere226
App. A4.2The Adiabatic Lapse Rate228
App. A5.1Measuring Moisture in the Atmosphere231
App. A5.2Earth's Energy Budget232
App. A5.3How Many of Your Molecules Have Been to the Moon?233
App. A6.1Conservation of Angular Momentum234
App. A6.2The Coriolis Force235
App. A6.3Shape of Earth237
App. A6.4Gradient Winds237
App. A7.1Predicting the Weather240
App. A8.1The Seasonal Thermocline242
App. A8.2The Perpetual Salt Fountain242
App. 9El Nino, La Nina, and the Southern Oscillation244
App. A10.1Weathering246
App. A10.2Properties of the Planets247
App. 11Earth's Sensitivity to Perturbations248
App. 12The Ozone Layer249
App. 13Global Warming250
Glossary251
References257
Index259

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