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Earth's Climate: Past and Future First Edition Edition

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0716737414
ISBN-10: 0716737418
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William F. Ruddiman, University of Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 465 pages
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman; First Edition edition (December 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716737418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716737414
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Dario Ventra on May 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book twice, and wished I had had something like this available to me a few years ago, when I started venturing out into the unnumbered feedback loops, geochemical vagaries and regional idiosyncracies of Quaternary paleoclimatology, trying to form a general picture of it all. But this text isn't just about the Quaternary, mind you, this is a complete introduction to the main issues in Earth's climatology.
That it's mainly PALEOclimatology is unavoidable, since in my opinion "present climatology" is like a nonsense... Climate is an averaged evaluation of regional or global meteorological parameters through time, and the "present" is always too short for such an evaluation. Insight on climate evolution is only gained looking back in time, and projecting our analyses to an immediate future, so it's a science strictly dependent on timescales and perspectives... What we can tentatively tell about our climatic future is still too uncertain, but what was in the past is still available to inform and inspire us to further research, that's why Ruddiman's work is mainly about understanding what happened in the past...
My cheap philosophy aside, I think the author's aim was to introduce the subject from the basics, at a simplified level, in order to teach what kind of processes and interactions are involved in determining Earth's climate and its variability, without having inexperienced readers bogged down into technicalities of all sorts and all together (the necessary way of scientific articles delving deeper into any one very specific topic!).
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jacquelyn Gill on January 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This textbook was assigned for a mid-level course on climatic environments of the past, with a focus on the Quaternary Period. As a graduate student with an ecology undergraduate degree currently studying Quaternary vegetation dynamics, I found this to be an excellent introduction for those without a background in climatology while still having a lot to offer more advanced students.

The book itself does not focus merely on the Quaternary, but on the general climatic history of the earth and the dynamic processes that govern it. Ruddiman gives a full treatment of the various scales of variability (tectonic-scale, orbital-scale, millenial, and finally historical and future). He includes a thorough treatment of various paleoclimate proxy methods, the processes of internal and external climate forcing, and gives a geological context for the current trends in climate change.

One of the most valuable aspects of this textbook are the excellent illustrations, which are concise and consistent throughout. These graphics make a variety of potentially confusing or complex processes seem much simpler and more approachable, and are superior to other treatments of the same topics I've seen in other textbooks. Each chapter has suggestions for additional readings, key terms, and review questions, making this an excellent resource for students.

The work is comparatively up-to-date, and includes current issues and debates in paleoclimate studies as well as references to various contemporary projects, groups, and researchers. The writing style is succinct and clear, and follows an intuitive progression. More advanced students will find it easy to find the information they need without slogging through elementary readings.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Scott A. Mandia on April 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am a community college professor who uses this text. The course is designed for non-science majors who need a lab science elective to satisfy their liberal arts degree. The climate course that I teach is a paleoclimatology course which is primarily about the forces that have caused climate and climate change over the past 300 million years. My course differs from the more traditional method of teaching climate (typically an "atmospheric science" course for the first half of the course followed by some climate change materials in the second half.)

The Ruddiman book is outstanding and I will highlight the pros and cons below but the pros greatly outweigh the cons:

1) Extremely well-written
2) Ruddiman uses the scientific method to build his topics. He begins with a hypothesis, explores the data, and then discusses if the hypothesis is valid or not. I love this style because it shows students how scientists approach problems and possible solutions.
3) Superb illustrations

1) Really a two-semester text. There is no way that students can do more than 10-12 chapters per semester.
2) Although appropriate for college-level, this text will read at a higher level than other books typically used in non-majors courses.

Bottom line: this is simply the best climate book I have reviewed to date for community college non-major students and I have reviewed many over the last 20 years.

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lamont Granquist on January 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I expect that this book over time will collect a bunch of 1-star and 2-star reviews from reviewers who mostly have political objections to the content in the book.

The book itself is a good undergraduate-level introduction to climate science, and should be read by anyone who want to understand how climate science has evolved, and what the current state of knowledge is. It is going to be much more accessible to a scientifically-oriented layman than some of the graduate level texts. If you've been reading about climate issues on the web, and want an introduction to the science, this will be an invaluable to transition from reading about climate on the web to getting closer to the science itself. Even if you have political issues with climate science, this book lays out the basics of the actual scientific arguments and presents what is known and does a good job at presenting the certainty with which it is known. If we could have arguments about climate based on the content of this book, rather than whatever someone thinks Al Gore says, it would move forwards the entire debate over climate science.
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