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The Change in the Weather: People, Weather, and the Science of Climate Paperback – March 6, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (March 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385320078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385320078
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,217,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the summer of 1995, Chicagoans endured weather of extremes they had never seen: daytime temperatures that, adjusted for humidity, exceeded 125 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures that did not fall below 90. In four days, 583 people died of heat exhaustion and related causes. It was by far Chicago's greatest mass disaster, and one for which the city was utterly unprepared.

William Stevens, a science reporter for The New York Times, opens his vivid--and sometimes frightening--book The Change in the Weather with a look at the Chicago disaster, moving on to consider it and other calamities in the context of millions of years of climatic change. In the last several decades, violent storms, long considered to be aberrations of nature, have come to seem almost the norm. The jury is still out, but much evidence suggests that the so-called greenhouse effect is fueling these ever-more-powerful storms. With global warming come hotter average temperatures; hotter temperatures mean increased water vapor, the stuff from which storms are made; more storms mean more flooding; more flooding means more soil erosion and the destruction of the world's estuaries and coastlines; and so on. Stevens carefully describes some of the scientific debates on global warming and ever-nastier weather, and on what, if anything, might be done to reverse or slow these apparent trends.

Lacing his narrative with interviews with leading climatologists, Stevens offers an engrossing scientific detective story--one that threatens to become a horror story in the very near future. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Over the past decade, a scientific consensus has emerged that global warming is real and is largely the consequence of human activity--specifically, the burning of fossil fuels for energy, transportation and industrial activity. As such, global warming may be the most important political issue and technological challenge of the next two centuries--or so intimates New York Times science reporter Stevens (Miracle Under the Oaks) in this balanced, authoritative and accessible volume. Stevens makes clear, however, that quantifying the impact of global warming will be difficult, which makes developing and implementing necessary international solutions--already challenging because of the conflicting interests of different countries--an intractable problem. The author skillfully describes the complex science of climate: the ever-changing patterns of global flows of air, water and energy. The world already faces extremes of temperature and precipitation. Yet the floods, droughts, heat waves, blizzards and other exceptional weather of the past decade may be just the beginning. Stevens predicts that rising sea levels caused by melting polar ice caps, coupled with increasingly intense storm surges, may threaten coastal cities and island nations around the world. Agricultural patterns and regional ecology may change dramatically. Prevailing winds, weather cycles and ocean currents may shift. Humanity, that most adaptable of species, will be challenged to keep up. Mainstream and contrarian scientists may make different predictions and propose different policies, but few would dispute Stevens's ominous closing sentence: "The experiment is running, and time will tell." (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Frakes on March 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Change in the Weather was pretty much the book I was looking for. With evidence building about past global climate based upon ice core samples, pollen studies to determine changing fauna over time, soil stratification and so on, I was interested in a survey that described earth's history of climate change. It may be too soon to have a complete picture, I learned, but a great deal is offered here, along with climatic effects on humankind and vice versa. The book has a lot to recommend it as an introduction to a current and important topic.
I enjoyed the early sections of the book which present a synopsis of the formation of the earth, early life forms and, ultimately, climate's influence on human development, agriculture, civilization, and modern society. Even if you are familiar with more detailed analysis of these events, as I am, the journey was nice. Along the way, you get a good feel for dramatic historical changes due to climate (and a sense of what could lie ahead).
There is a history of the study of meteorology that was new to me that put into perspective how the science of weather evolved. The science here is not detailed, but it is a good survey. We see a bit on the state of computerized weather modeling today as well. Then we get into today's issues on global warming, greenhouse gasses and the possible effects. This is good stuff and the major weather events described from the last decade or two bring back instant recognition and recall, pointing out, I think, how aware of and affected by these events we really are. An interesting point is that global warming could result in higher over night temperatures and higher lows rather than high temperatures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Gallagher VINE VOICE on May 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Change in the Weather is actually a very, very, good book on the history of meteorology and climatology, and how it has been used to detect and predict global warming.

The main reason the book does not receive 5 stars is because it is now dated - written in 1999; and I'm reviewing it 10 years later - much has happened to forward the certainty of global warming knowledge and effects since then. For example, the author mentions that killer heat waves might happen more frequently, which is fairly prescient, as this was four years before the killer heat wave of Europe occurred. He also mentions that in a warming world, the intensity of weather in general would increase, which would lead to more drought; and also somewhat counter-intuitively, more intense rainfall events as well. Hurricanes would become stronger. He was right about all of this.

The best part of the book was reading about how a group of Norwegians completely updated the science of meteorology in the 1920s, and how it has become more and more precise with the aid of supercomputers.

A good general book to read about climate change, but unfortunately, just a little out of date.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Broomy on January 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book because I wanted a better understanding of the whole global climate change debate. On the plus side, the author does a good job of explaining the difficulty in determining if the climate is changing. He convinced me that global warming is occurring. The weight of the evidence appears to be overwhelming in this regard, although it's not clear if it's just short term variation or the beginning of a long-run trend. The author discusses how a scientific model shows a human cause for warming, but I'm not entirely convinced. But the models seem to be improving rapidly, and it may not be long before the evidence is overwhelming. My biggest complaint is that the author did not place human influences into context. For example, how does the release of CO2 from burning fossil fuels compare to natural releases such as forest fires? How does deforestation affect global warming? If the planet is warming, doesn't that imply more plants, including plankton, which convert CO2 into oxygen, thus offsetting the impact? The author mentions that quantification of the carbon cycle is not well understood, but an understanding of it is critical to understand global warming. The author suggests that consequences of inaction could be severe, but he uses mostly anecdotal information and speculation because scientific information is lacking. Quite frankly, I'm not convinced that action is necessary. Science does not seem far enough along to warrant changing behavior to fend off problems that may never occur. And if the models are right and global warming will cause serious consequences I expect them to occur gradually. I have faith that future generations will be in a much better position to deal with these problems than we are today.
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