“Amid all the ranting, confusing, and contradicting books on climate change, at last here's one that does something truly useful: Clearly and engagingly, scientist Curt Stager guides us back into the atmosphere's history, letting us compare it to the present and draw informed ideas about what to expect in the future. It's heartening to know that he expects us to have one.” Alan Weisman, author, The World Without Us
“Deep Future is a richly informative and deeply persuasive bookone that will be relevant for generations.” Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
“Deep Future is like one of Jared Diamond's magisterial accounts, except set in the future, not the past.” Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth
“A highly entertaining, carefully balanced, and deeply sobering look at our climate future.” William F. Ruddiman, author of Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum
“Fascinating and measured - at last someone is taking the long view.” Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees
“This intriguing and thought-provoking view of the far future is an essential read for all interested in the full force of climate change.” Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director of the Climate Change Institute, and author of The Ice Chronicles
“A probing exploration of the impact of climate change over geological time. ... Essential reading.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A thoughtful, if controversial, approach to an over-heated subject.” Publishers Weekly
“Deep Future is a clear, concise, and thought provoking work, one that takes a refreshingly frank look at the science behind global warming and, more importantly, what is coming next. In a field where hyperbolic claims and bitter skepticism prevail, the clarity and unflappability of Stager's account is like a breath of fresh, slightly heated air.” Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth
“Maintaining a casual style and providing vivid metaphors, he makes his account entertaining and easy for nontechnical readers to understand.” Science
A probing exploration of the impact of climate change over geological time.
Stager (Paleoecology/Paul Smith Coll.) takes the long view of global climate change. Most popular discussions of the subject look only at the next century or so, ignoring the question of what happens after the current generation is gone from the scene. Carbon dioxide pumped into the air by burning fossil fuels will be around thousands or hundred of thousands of years from now, and the effects will occur on a similar time scale. Ice-sheet collapse and sea-level rise will likely take place gradually enough to allow coastal residents to adjust—decades, if not centuries. Comparison with past warm episodes, notably the Eemian interglacial, 130,000 years ago, gives perspective. Different latitudes will feel results unequally—much discussion has focused on polar icecaps, but tropical climates will feel the impact as well. As some regions become drier, others may experience more rainfall. Stager examines both moderate and extreme scenarios, depending on the degree of carbon release. The impact may even be benign in some regions. Greenland may become a temperate climate, while much of Europe faces rising sea levels. Warming isn't the only long-term issue. Acidification of the oceans, a chemical reaction caused by dissolved carbon dioxide, is likely to harm many aquatic species. Many animals that survived past episodes of climate change by moving are now endangered because of human settlements in their way. A key point is that humanity has the ability to moderate the release of carbon, shaping the long-range impact on climate. While we are already past the point where significant global warming can be prevented, the author points out that cutting carbon now preserves some for a future era when its release could help prevent another ice age—a global disaster every bit as threatening to the human race as warming.