The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change

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Most climate scientists wholeheartedly agree with the above statement by the US President. An incredible wealth of scientific data on global warming has been collected in the last few decades. The history of the earth's climate has been probed by drilling into the polar ice sheets and the sediment layers of the oceans' vast depths. Great advances have been made in computer modeling of our climate. Each year, over 10,000 scientific papers are published containing the key word "climate".

This book provides a concise and accessible overview of what we know about ongoing climate change and its impacts, and what we can do to confront the climate crisis. It gives a readable account of the treasure trove of information contained in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change reports, and also brings the subject completely up to date with current science and policy.

The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change makes essential scientific information on climate change accessible to a broad audience. Obtaining sound information is the first step in preventing a serious. Long-lasting degradation of our planet's climate, helping to ensure our future survival.

Accessible to anyone with a basic high-school education.

Suitable for use in the classroom for both science-majors and non-majors, either as a primary textbook or as a supplementary "reader".

Strong use of clear and simple graphics, in full color.

Completely up to date with current science and policy issues.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
‘David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf - two outstanding scientists - bring us up-to-date on climate science in this remarkable and very readable book. This book deserves to be read by anyone interested in climate change.' Professor Paul Crutzen, Max Plank Institute for Chemistry, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1995, for explaining the ozone hole

'The key findings of the IPCC, written in plain and simple terms. Great value in informing the public at large about the science underlying the growing challenge of climate change.’ Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC and Director-General of The Energy Resources Institute

'Both scientists contributed to IPCC(1997) Vol. 1, and are well qualified to write on this topic. Neither of them is a sceptic. As the subtitle An introductory Guide implies, the book is suitable for undergraduates and first–year graduate students.' CMOS Bulletin

"... well written ... This book should be read by anyone who is interested in climate change but does not have the time or commitment to read the IPCC reports." Eos

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521407441
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2010
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David Archer is a professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. Dr Archer has published over 70 scientific papers on a wide range of topics on the carbon cycle and its relation to global climate. He teaches classes on global warming, environmental chemistry, and geochemistry. His previous books include Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast (2006, Wiley-Blackwell) and The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate (2008, Princeton University Press). He is a regular contributor to the website

Stefan Rahmstorf is professor of Physics of the Oceans, and head of department at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Dr Rahmstorf is a member of the Academia Europaea and of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU).He is also one of the lead authors of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In 2007 he became an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales. He has published over 50 scientific papers (14 of which in Nature and Science) and co-authored two previous books: Der Klimawandel (2006, C.H. Beck) and Wie bedroht sind die Ozeane? (2007, Fischer), published in English as Our Threatened Oceans (2008, Haus publishing). He a co-founder and regular contributor to the website

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Retrospective: what we knew and when we knew it 1

Awareness of the past 4

Understanding climate 7

Finding the smoking gun 11

Summary 15

2 Earth's energy budget 16

The concept of radiative forcing 17

Greenhouse gases 21

Other human-related climate forcings 32

Climate forcings that are not our fault 34

Summary 37

3 Climate change so far 39

Temperature changes 40

Rain and snow 47

Clouds and radiation 51

Patterns of atmospheric circulation 54

Tropical storms 57

Causes of the observed climate changes 62

Summary 67

4 Snow and ice 68

Ice sheets 69

Sea ice 78

Permafrost 81

Summary 84

5 How the oceans are changing 86

The oceans are heating up 87

Sweet or salty? 91

Are ocean currents changing? 93

Sea level rise 94

The oceans are turning sour 98

Summary 103

6 The past is the key to the future 105

Climate changes over millions of years 106

The Paleocene Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) 106

Pliocene 109

Glacial cycles 109

Our current interglacial period 118

The last 2000 years 119

The instrumental period 122

Summary 123

7 What the future holds 125

Scenarios or predictions? 126

How future climate is computed 127

How warm will it get? 129

Rainfall changes 135

How high will the seas rise? 139

Changing ocean currents? 145

Ice and snow changes 146

How sour will the oceans get? 148

Summary 150

8 Impacts of climate change 151

Are plants and animals already feeling the heat? 152

The future of nature 160

Food, water, health: how global warming will affect us 170

Climate impacts by region 178

Can we adapt? 185

9 Avoiding climate change 191

Energy supply: the present, the forecast, and what can be changed 196

Energy consumption 205

Other mitigation strategies 210

A more optimistic vision 213

What it will cost 217

10 Climate policy 221

Do we need a climate policy? 222

What global policy targets? 224

Global conflict, or unprecedented global cooperation? 227

Epilogue 231

References 232

Illustration credits 235

Index 240

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