The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet

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Overview

Dr. Heidi Cullen, one of the world’s foremost climatologists and environmental journalists, offers a new way of viewing the climate-change phenomenon, not as some future event but as something happening right now in our own backyard. In this groundbreaking, provocative work, Dr. Cullen combines the latest scientific research with state-of-the-art climate-model projections to create climate-change scenarios for seven of the most at-risk locations around the globe.

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The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet

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Overview

Dr. Heidi Cullen, one of the world’s foremost climatologists and environmental journalists, offers a new way of viewing the climate-change phenomenon, not as some future event but as something happening right now in our own backyard. In this groundbreaking, provocative work, Dr. Cullen combines the latest scientific research with state-of-the-art climate-model projections to create climate-change scenarios for seven of the most at-risk locations around the globe.

From the Central Valley of California, where coming droughts will jeopardize the entire state’s water supply, to New York City, whose infrastructure is extremely vulnerable to even a relatively weak Category 3 hurricane, to Greenland, where warmer temperatures will give access to mineral wealth buried beneath ice sheets for millennia, Cullen illustrates how, if left unabated, climate change will transform every corner of the world by midcentury—and no two regions will be affected in quite the same way.

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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Kolbert
“Vivid and compelling, this book shows what life will be like in a warming world. Essential reading for anyone who’s planning to inhabit the planet for the next few decades.”
Laurie David
In this important and timely book, Heidi Cullen breaks ground...simplifying the connection between weather and climate and bringing the true impact of the problem, literally, right to your front door.
Michiko Kakutani
“A scorching vision of what life might be like in the warmer world that is already on its way. ”
New Scientist
“Heidi Cullen’s beautifully crafted study provides the human detail that has been missing from most reports on climate science…This book sets a new benchmark for accessible writing on the likely weather of the future.”
Booklist
“This is a woman to whom attention must be paid.”
New York Post
“In an accessible way, [Cullen] details the Earth’s climate history and forecasts what might happen if we’re not more careful.”
Associated Press Staff
“[Cullen] accepts weather as a local matter, just as Tip O’Neill, longtime speaker of the House of Representatives, proclaimed all politics to be local...The Weather of the Future,” uses a broad itinerary to illustrate the threats she perceives.”
Associated Press Staff
“[Cullen] accepts weather as a local matter, just as Tip O’Neill, longtime speaker of the House of Representatives, proclaimed all politics to be local...The Weather of the Future,” uses a broad itinerary to illustrate the threats she perceives.”
Booklist
“This is a woman to whom attention must be paid.”
New Scientist
“Heidi Cullen’s beautifully crafted study provides the human detail that has been missing from most reports on climate science…This book sets a new benchmark for accessible writing on the likely weather of the future.”
New York Post
“In an accessible way, [Cullen] details the Earth’s climate history and forecasts what might happen if we’re not more careful.”
Michiko Kakutani
Although Weather of the Future sounds like an exercise in speculation, Ms. Cullen grounds her harrowing predictions—extrapolations, really—in "the best available science" derived from an array of climate models, environmental data and interviews with scientists. And her forecasts actually turn out to be an armature for discussing the fallout of climate change (from rising sea levels to more extreme weather) in an accessible, tactile fashion and for examining existing liabilities in various regions and cities, like overstretched infrastructure and dwindling water supplies.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This engrossing study predicts global warming scenarios for seven hot spots around the world--and evaluates the responses of communities, governments, and international organizations. Cullen, a climatologist, notes that "just as our brain is hardwired to perceive threats that are most immediate to us, we are hardwired to devote more energy to caring about the weather than to caring about the climate," and that "by the time you see it in the weather... it's too late." With some ecosystems, such as the overtaxed Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which the entire state of California depends on for water, "people would rather simply hope for a happy ending." In contrast, in the Arctic, the Inuit are responding to climate change and incorporating technology into their traditional hunting methods, and New York City "has decided to fix the climate bug now" with its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Despite the worry among scientists that humans will follow "the woolly mammoth, the symbol of a climate that no longer exists," the book presents a surprisingly optimistic view of humanity's determination to come to terms with a daunting future. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061726941
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 586,496
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Heidi Cullen is a senior research scientist with Climate Central, a nonprofit climate news and research organization, and a visiting lecturer at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps xi

Introduction xiii

Part I Your Weather Is Your Climate

1 Climate and Weather Together 3

2 Seeing Climate Change in Our Past 12

3 The Science of Prediction 31

4 Extreme Weather Autopsies and the Forty-Year Forecast 50

Part II The Weather of the Future

5 The Sahel, Africa 63

6 The Great Barrier Reef, Australia 89

7 Central Valley, California 115

8 The Arctic, Part One: Inuit Nunaat, Canada 149

9 The Arctic, Part Two: Greenland 173

10 Dhaka, Bangladesh 197

11 New York, New York 227

Epilogue: The Trillionth Ton 261

Appendix 1 United States Climate Change Almanac 273

Appendix 2 New York Statistics 297

Appendix 3 The World's Most Vulnerable Places 299

Notes 303

Acknowledgments 313

Index 317

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Global warming and 21st Century Weather

    Cullen’s book makes the case that climate prediction over the next century is just as dependable as weather prediction over the next ten days. We can forecast a river’s flood stage several days in advance and can take appropriate measures to mitigate the damage. Likewise, we know what global warming will do to various vulnerable places, like Bangladesh, and we can begin to take steps now that will ease the human misery that is likely to ensue.

    Each chapter studies a different vulnerable place: the Central Valley of California, the Arctic, the Sahel, the Great Barrier Reef, and New York City. She interviews some of the experts in the field and makes some fanciful predictions for some future years.

    The book has two main shortcomings, shared by other similar books:
    • She assumes that resources can and will be allocated in the best interests of all humanity, when simply getting from here to that point is the greatest obstacle of all.
    • The biggest problem of global warming is NOT that extreme weather will be more likely, or even that sea level will rise. It is instead the possibility that a runaway greenhouse effect will result in a planet utterly unsuited to human civilization.

    Nevertheless, books like this one should be read by as many people as possible. The narrow focus on a few danger spots will educate people about the many effects of global warming and may serve as a wake-up call for future policy-makers.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    This is a good novel but it is very one sided and negative. It l

    This is a good novel but it is very one sided and negative. It looks only at worst case scenarios and is hopeless. Not a bad read but go into it knowing that according to this author we are doomed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Excellent discussion of the practical aspects of global warming. Using specific locations and examining the consequences of climate change is more engaging than model discussions.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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