Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change

Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change

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by Melanie Lenart
     
 

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In this insightful, compelling, and highly readable work, Melanie Lenart, an award-winning journalist and science writer who holds a PhD in Natural Resources and Global Change, examines global warming with the trained eye of a professional scientist. And she presents the science in a clear, straightforward manner. Why does the planet’s warming produce

Overview


In this insightful, compelling, and highly readable work, Melanie Lenart, an award-winning journalist and science writer who holds a PhD in Natural Resources and Global Change, examines global warming with the trained eye of a professional scientist. And she presents the science in a clear, straightforward manner. Why does the planet’s warming produce stronger hurricanes, rising seas, and larger floods? Simple, says Lenart. The Earth is just doing what comes naturally. Just as humans produce sweat to cool off on a hot day, the planet produces hurricanes, floods, wetlands, and forests to cool itself off.

Life in the Hothouse incorporates Lenart’s extensive knowledge of climate science—including the latest research in climate change—and the most current scientific theories, including Gaia theory, which holds that the Earth has some degree of climate control “built in.” As Lenart points out, scientists have been documenting stronger hurricanes and larger floods for many years. There is a good reason for this, she notes. Hurricanes help cool the ocean surface and clear the air of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. From the perspective of Gaia theory, these responses are helping to slow the ongoing global warming and Lenart expounds upon this in a clear and understandable fashion.

There is hope, Lenart writes. If we help sustain Earth's natural defense systems, including wetlands and forests, perhaps Mother Earth will no longer need to rely as much on the cooling effects of what we call "natural disasters"—many of which carry a human fingerprint. At a minimum, she argues, these systems can help us survive the heat.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In Life in the Hothouse, Melanie Lenart puts her formidable writing chops to work to produce a highly readable examination of Earth's survival mechanisms—including spikes in hurricanes and volcanic activity—through countless episodes of global warming and cooling spanning millennia."—Lee Gutowski of Zócalo

Life in the Hothouse provides readers with a concise and well-written systems perspective of how our planet responds to changes in greenhouse gases. Readers will learn much about the Earth and the role life plays in its climate system from this book.”—Jeffrey T. Kiehl, a researcher with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, for The Quarterly Review of Biology

“This is a fine book. … Although dealing with a very complex topic, its clarity is such that anybody reasonably well-read would find it both fascinating and informative while most academics would also welcome its clarity.”—Elery Hamilton-Smith ofElectronic Green Journal

"Environmental scientist/writer Lenart presents a readable narrative of Earth's role as a living organism...Highly recommended for lower- and upper-division undergraduates and professionals."—M. Evans for CHOICE Reviews

"This intelligent, well-written book makes a substantial contribution to the climate change debate. … this volume adds a great deal to the discussion of climate change and should be widely read."—Robert Paehlke, Ph.D., for the Cambridge journal Environmental Practice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816527236
Publisher:
University of Arizona Press
Publication date:
05/15/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author


Melanie Lenart is an environmental scientist and writer who specializes in climate change and forests. A researcher with the University of Arizona in Tucson for many years, Lenart now focuses on writing and teaching environmental writing at the university and in workshops.

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Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ProReviewing More than 1 year ago
Award-winning ex-journalist turned academic, Melanie Lenart sets out in Life in the Hothouse to see what lessons from the past, including from the two especially hot periods of the Cretaceous and the Eocene, can teach us about our present-day situation and about how we can prepare ourselves for our future on what promises to become an increasingly hot planet. Her intention is to show how we can work with the planet to limit some of the potentially disastrous impacts of global warming. Though she is convinced that life on Earth will survive, Lenart's key concern is that many species and individuals might not. True to her previous role as an investigative reporter, Lenart relates personal experiences of those affected by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina. She includes quotes from interviews conducted with leading experts in the field, as well as excerpts from relevant e-mail exchanges. Her skill in expressing the most scientific and complex phenomena enables her to convey her message so clearly that even someone with only a very basic knowledge of how the planet functions will be able to understand what she has to say. No surprise, then, that Lenart also teaches environmental writing at the University of Arizona (check out her webpage on their site, which contains details of her schedule), as well as conducts workshops in her field. In this comprehensive and entertaining text, Lenart helps to bring contemporary thinking in America in line with the age-old thinking of the Native American people, citing many of the latter's strongest voices. She shows her humane side as a scientist by revealing anecdotes of how her own life has been affected by climate change, whether it has meant cowering under an overturned couch during a hurricane or sweating profusely on an unexpectedly muggy July day. Though she refers to leading bodies that are concerned with monitoring climate change, such as to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she does not overwhelm one with countless names. After all, this is not an academic treatise, but rather a text that sets out to explore the implications of global warming for the average person. In straightforward, jargon-free prose, Lenart simply and objectively tells of life-threatening climate changes, such as that of rising winter temperatures in Alaska, which is leading to the need to relocate entire river-side towns. By assuming that the average reader has sufficient intelligence to be able to understand the implications of what she has to say, Lenart establishes a certain rapport with her audience, which makes her arguments all the more convincing. She contextualizes the writings and work of those researchers to whom she refers, citing many popular articles than can be found in such magazines as Science and the New Scientist, which are widely available. Those who find that they wish to read further on the topics that she covers can, therefore, easily do so.