In the publicity surrounding global warming, climate scientists are usually the experts consulted by the media. We rarely hear from geologists, who for almost two hundred years have been studying the history of Earth's dramatic and repeated climate revolutions, as revealed in the evidence of rocks and landscapes. This book, written by a geologist, describes the important contributions that geology has made to our understanding of climate change. What emerges is a much more complex and nuanced picture than is usually presented.
While the average person often gets the impression that the Earth's climate would be essentially stable if it weren't for the deleterious effects of greenhouse gases, in fact the history of the earth over many millennia reveals a constantly changing climate. As the author explains, several long cold eras have been punctuated by shorter warm periods. The most recent of these warm spells, the one in which we are now living, started ten thousand years ago; based on previous patterns, we should be about due for the return of another frigid epoch. Some scientists even think that the warming of the planet caused by man-made greenhouse gasses tied to agriculture in the past few thousand years may have held off the next ice age. Though this may be possible, much remains uncertain.
But what is clearly known is that major climate shifts can be appallingly rapidoccurring over as little as twenty or thirty years. One danger of dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is that they may increase the chance that this "climate switch" will be thrown, with catastrophic effects on worldwide agriculture.
Besides her discussion of climate, the author includes chapters on how early naturalists pieced together the complicated geological history of Earth, and she teaches the reader how to interpret the evidence of rock formations and landscape patterns all around us.
Accessible and engagingly written, this book is essential reading for anyone looking to understand one of our most important contemporary debates.
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About the Author
E. Kirsten Peters, PhD (Pullman, WA), is the author of three previous books on geology, most recently Planet Rock Doc. As the "Rock Doc," Dr. Peters publishes syndicated essays on science for newspapers across the nation and she reads some of her pieces on Northwest Public Radio. She taught geology and interdisciplinary science classes at Washington State University for ten years and is currently the director of major grant development for the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
Table of Contents
1 Facing our Climate Adversary Squarely 9
2 The Ice Time 23
3 Staggering Complexities and Surprising Side Effects 43
4 From Woolly Mammoths to Saber-Toothed Tigers 67
5 Miraculous Mud 83
6 Wood Reveals Climate Clues 99
7 The Evidence of the Ice 131
8 Even More Frequent Boom-Bust Cycles 149
9 Have Humans Shaped Climate for Millennia? 171
10 From Efforts to Modify Climate to Fears of Global Cooling 193
11 Global Warming Discovered 207
12 Leaving the Garden 239
About the Author 263
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One of the most balanced, thorough and complete books I have read on the history of modern climate change. I would characterize it as 'required reading' and 'cautionary' to a species that has the ability to effect positive change but cannot seem to garner enough support. A must for any serious student of life on planet earth.
Dr. Peters paints a picture of constant climate change from the perspective of a geologist. Dr. Peters in plain concise language explains why any discussion of climate change must include the state of constant climate change told by the earth it's self. That story is told by geology. Dr. Peters does and excellent job of telling us what the study of geology has to say about climate change, as recorded by the earth it's self. Dr. Peters explains how our climate can flip in a very few years, as it has done many times it the past. She cautions us about passing legislation that may do more harm than good. She goes on to explain that we may see a new ice age or maybe more warming. That sounds like a contradiction or bit of waffling. IT IS NOT! Read the book and find out why. A must read for anyone interested in climate change.
A balanced and broad interdisciplinary look -- lucidly written and meticulously documented -- at just what goes into what we call "climate." It should be required reading for national legislators since it has a bearing on many large national policy issues not usually thought of as related to climate, such as agriculture, forestry, land use, and preparation for an expected increase in severity and frequency of extreme weather "events."
This is the best book on the subject of the science of "naturally occurring" climate change. It is like having a kitchen-table discussion with the author about a very complex subject, but made easy through the use of metaphors we all understand. It is a fresh look at the science of climate, and is not like the highly charged polemic "An Inconvenient Truth". This is a good read, and this is great science. This book should be in every public library, and would be a great text for mid-high science discussion. This book, more than other I have read on the subject, makes me wish I had studied geology.