The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps

The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps

by Peter D. Ward
     
 

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No matter what efforts we make to halt global warming, sea level rise will be an unavoidable part of our future. In The Flooded Earth, species extinction expert Peter D. Ward describes in intricate detail what our world will look like in 2050, 2100, 2300, and beyond. Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions today, according to Ward, the seas will…  See more details below

Overview


No matter what efforts we make to halt global warming, sea level rise will be an unavoidable part of our future. In The Flooded Earth, species extinction expert Peter D. Ward describes in intricate detail what our world will look like in 2050, 2100, 2300, and beyond. Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions today, according to Ward, the seas will rise three feet by 2050 and nine feet by 2100. The effects of one meter of sea-level rise will be massive; three meters will be catastrophic. Incursions of salt into the water table will destroy most of our best agricultural land, and corrosion will devour the electrical and fiber-optic systems of coastal cities, as well as our roads and bridges. Amsterdam, Miami, Venice and other cities might have to be abandoned. As icebound regions melt, meanwhile, new sources of oil, gas, minerals, and arable land will be revealed—and geopolitical battles will erupt over who owns the rights to them. Laying out a blueprint for a foreseeable future, Ward explains what politicians and policy makers around the world should be doing now to head off the worst consequences of this cataclysmic—and frighteningly inevitable—transformation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing from research on polar melting and current climate studies, paleontologist and NASA astrobiologist Ward (Under a Green Sky) depicts grim scenarios of the future as the ice caps melt away. Ward imagines Canadian indigenous people waging guerrilla warfare in 2030 on a government poisoning their bodies and ancestral lands with tars sands mining; Miami in 2120 as a lawless island abandoned by a federal government overwhelmed with building dikes to protect less doomed cities; topsoil from a dried-out Midwest being shipped in 2515 to an Antarctic Freehold State, one of the few locations where crops could still be grown; Bangladeshi refugees, fleeing their flooded nation after a 24-foot sea rise in 3004, being gunned down by Indian Border Security Forces. Ward assures us that it doesn’t have to be this way and attempts a feeble optimism. He recommends a combination of lifestyle changes and technical solutions, although he warns that the latter are fraught with unknown perils. This is indisputably important information, but Ward’s conclusion that hope is “perhaps itself a goal,” makes for a depressing read. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
More doom and gloom about rising sea levels. NASA astrobiologist Ward (Biology and Earth and Space Science/Univ. of Washington; Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future, 2007, etc.) describes the disastrous changes that can be expected as sea levels continue their accelerating rise due to global warming. Drawing on recent studies, the author writes that there will be massive flooding-far more than currently predicted-of world coastlines, home to more than 200 million people. In one of many scenarios, Ward predicts conditions in Miami in 2120, where a ten-foot rise in sea level has left behind a bankrupt island city without municipal freshwater, freeway and railroad ties or much of a middle class (most having fled to higher ground), its dying economy based mainly on illegal drugs. "All of the coastal cities can die by drowning," he writes, noting that flooding will destroy the infrastructure needed for survival. "If we do not act, none will be spared, even those that climb up hills onto steeper slopes, such as San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, and Vancouver." Ward examines each aspect of the havoc-making process: increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, rising temperatures, melting of the large ice sheets and glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica and a foreseeable sea-level rise of more than 200 feet over centuries. The biggest culprit behind rising seas, he writes, is overpopulation. Most vulnerable to drowning and economic calamity are coastal places at low sea levels in Holland, Bangladesh and more than 30 other countries, and the most likely to emerge as greater world powers are cold places like Russia and Canada. Ward writes that coastal cities have three choices: do little or nothing (and be inundated), build flood-control facilities and dikes or relocate populations to entirely new cities. More broadly, to avoid disastrous global warming, humans must not only reduce greenhouse gases; they must change behaviors (stop using coal, eliminate the suburbs and private vehicles) and engineer new climate-protecting techniques (artificial cloud cover, space reflectors, etc.). A blunt, vivid warning. Author tour to Seattle, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Los Angeles

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465029051
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
08/07/2012
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
766,880
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 8.78(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author


Peter D. Ward is a Professor of Biology and Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an astrobiologist with NASA. Ward is the author of more than a dozen books, including the highly acclaimed Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe with Donald Brownlee and Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere. He appeared in the PBS documentary “Shape of Life” and was the chief scientist for Animal Planet’s Animal Armageddon, a multi-part series on animal extinction. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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