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Fixing Climate: What Past Climate Changes Reveal About the Current Threat--and How to Counter It Hardcover – April 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; First Edition edition (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080904501X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809045013
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,064,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite efforts at producing clean energy, mankind is going to continue burning coal and oil, say environmental sciences professor Broecker and science writer Kunzig. The pair offers a history of the scientific enquiry that solidified global warming theory, tracing the story from the 19th century through the 1957 dawn of the modern era of greenhouse studies when Americans Roger Revelle and Hans Seuss determined that the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide was increasing and predicted the world's climate would be affected. Reducing emissions that cause global warming is commendable, the authors contend, but is too little too late. Their solution? Bury the stuff: extract CO2 from the atmosphere then pack it into deep ocean aquifers or within layers of volcanic basalt. They envisage 80 million small collectors each scrubbing a ton of CO2 daily from the world's atmosphere to balance what is produced by burning coal and oil. In a best-case scenario, these efforts will also stop the acceleration of global warming. Prototypes have already been constructed, but even the authors admit that trying to see that far into the future is crazy. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Framed around the life and career of author Broecker, one of the earliest voices on global warming, this history of the climate crisis reads like a series of mini scientific biographies as the authors travel around the world and across centuries illuminating the lives of those who sought answers to climate mysteries. From glacial studies in the early-nineteenth-century Swiss Alps to the work of Serbian Milutin Milankovic, who calculated orbital cycles while in a World War I Austrian prison, Fixing Climate highlights the research of dozens of men who followed their own natural curiosity into areas not actively studied by their contemporaries. Anyone interested in environmental science, even at the most basic levels, will be intrigued by the wealth of climate history covered and the manner in which Broecker and Kunzig make personal stories from 200 years ago as relevant and fascinating as those from last year. The title is unfortunately misleading, as it does not hint at the brilliant eccentrics portrayed within. There is far more here than just another academic discussion on climate change; fascinating stuff. --Colleen Mondor

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Strasser on June 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Combine one coauthor who is the world's leading expert on climate change with a skilled science journalist and you get a riveting biography of Wallace S. Broecker that reads like a National Book Award novel. The science is a bonus, but, more than that - it is, I think, the definitive book on the subject of climate change.

One of the world's greatest living geoscientists, Wally Broecker, weaves an historical chronicle of earth's natural cycles with the modern history of humans that are, according to the Director of Earth Institute at Columbia University, poking the beast by combining mass use of fossil fuels with massive deforestation on earth. And Broecker warns that global society is at a crossroads where massive instability in climate, sea levels and survival of species threatens future generations.

If the geological past is prologue, Fixing Climate may be presient unless we pay attention to the author's solutions to tame the beast.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By OtisDaMan on August 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a thin book and a fast read for anyone with prior knowledge concerning Wally Broecker and climate science. For the rest of us, it is well worth the small effort required to embark on a fascinating journey through the geologic ages of much of North America and the Earth. It is expected that most people who have paid attention to news or science articles on climate change would have seen Keeling's CO2 (carbon dioxide) curve, which is inexorably increasing over time. Far fewer people would know of Keeling's son and his O2 (oxygen) curve, which is decreasing over time. Well, both are shown here, and furthermore, a simple but accurate explanation is given of how scientists know what proportion of human emissions of CO2 is absorbed by plants, absorbed by the oceans, and left lingering in the atmosphere.

As the reader progresses through the book, an interesting picture emerges of what it was like to be a scientist in the middle of the 20th century. The resourcefulness of the young climate scientists is deftly conveyed to the reader, and it is clear that they were primarily curiosity-driven. It certainly wasn't about grants or recognition as some people have impugned, it was the resolution of puzzles that drove the early climate scientists like Wally Broecker and his colleagues, in their work to uncover evidence about past climate changes. Indeed, Wally Broecker's strong belief was that understanding our current climate system required an understanding of past climate.

The biggest puzzle that Wally is famous for identifying and communicating is that of the global conveyor belt - the transfer of heat by thermohaline currents - of which the gulf stream is a part.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Before I talk a bit about why I really liked this book, let me first mention that the title is a bit misleading. The book does indeed cover CO2, but only gets around to ideas about fixing climate in the last few chapters, and even talks mostly about how difficult it would be while only offering a couple of solutions that would require huge and expensive projects.

As I was reading this book it struck me that this is yet again another book by, or in this case in cooperation with, a well-known and respected name in the field of climate science, or a related field that adds to the big picture on global warming. I fail to see how anyone who has read recent books by or about Peter Ward, James Hansen, Dennis Alley, and now Wallace Broecker can seriously dispute the basics about global warming. This is yet another book that gives comprehensive coverage to the honest, decades-long research that a respected scientist has been involved in. After reading this book, and many like it, it seems absolutely silly when the global warming skeptics claim that these men are only doing this for grant money, or to claim that the numbers do not bear out the theory of global warming. Men like Broecker have been compiling long and convincing lists of evidence for decades now, and it's pretty much unassailable. Of course, that being said, this is an honest book that admits to mistakes that have been made along the way as well as areas that are still unresolved.

This book, while being relatively short, seems like about three or four books rolled into one. It has a lot of biographical annecdotes about Broecker and other scientists. It has a lot of evidence gleaned from decades of research all around the globe. It also has more general coverage of the CO2 problem and what we might do about it.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Anon Ymous on August 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is a biography. It says very little about fixing climate or about "what past climate changes reveal about the current threat--and how to counter it." If you are interested in the details of how this particular climate scientist grew up, then read this book. If you are, as I was, looking for a book about "fixing climate," as this is inappropriately titled, then look elsewhere. I am very disappointed in the publisher for such a misleading tactic.
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful By James Safranek on May 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wally Broecker's break-through research on the planet's ocean conveyor belt and its impact on climate is well known in the research community and made palatable here for popular consumption. Read this book for that reason alone if you're unfamiliar with this process and what melting ice sheets can do to it. It also is a decent introduction to the earth's paleoclimates and what they can tell us about potential swings in our current climate history. Broecker knows that we're 'poking the beast' and the wake-up call could result in a return to a completely different regime.

On the fix: While I don't have much faith in engineering carbon sequestration as a method to correct the carbon problem, readers should see Broecker's chapter as an introduction (laugh), and next, take a close look at the serious efforts being undertaken by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
Your dough down a carbonized rat hole?
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