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The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change Paperback – March 6, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (March 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520213882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520213883
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,577,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] splendid book. . . . Proves that complex science can be made understandable in lay terms without being condescending to the reader or compromising accuracy about the subject."--Norman L. Christensen Jr., "American Scientist

About the Author

Richard C. J. Somerville is Professor of Meteorology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Customer Reviews

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The Forgiving Air also contains a useful glossary and annotated bibliography.
Dr. James Conca, Director
He embraces role of science in the fight against global warning and makes pretty good arguments to opponents of climate change scientists.
GEG 105 hreis
Overall, I thought that this was a good book on understanding what all the components are to understanding environmental change.
sbrenema

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Conca, Director on July 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
This second edition of Richard Somerville's The Forgiving Air. Understanding Environmental Change is the necessary next step in understanding the key environmental issue of our time - climate change. An internationally renowned atmospheric scientist, Somerville brilliantly enlightens readers of any level about the greenhouse effect, the ozone hole, air pollution, acid rain and other issues that will affect our lives for decades to come. The impact is all the more powerful given the author's principal role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, work which led to IPCC sharing of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with, among others, Al Gore. Dr. Somerville treats the science and its implications in an objective and easily comprehensible manner, including discussions of the policy ramifications of solutions to these extreme environmental problems.

Somerville embarks on this scholarly journey with a thorough coverage of the issue of the Antarctic ozone hole, broadening the discussion to the stratospheric ozone layer in general, skillfully separating natural effects from those induced by human activities. But the dominant subject of this book is climate and climate change. Illuminating the science behind computer-based weather and climate simulations, the author clearly describes the difference between weather and climate without resorting to obtuse scientific jargon or impenetrable mathematics. This book is written in plain English with the goal to communicate with all readers while assuming no prior knowledge of the topic. The Forgiving Air also contains a useful glossary and annotated bibliography. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to this most pressing global environmental issue and as a guide to policymakers and the greater public.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Man Kam Tam on January 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do you know that the atmosphere remembers our past behavior? And there is a limit to the forgiveness of the air. Another popular question is whether we can say that people are changing the climate? The actual language on the December 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports is that "The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate." Another common question is that suppose human beings are warming the Earth, what should we do? Richard C.J. Somerville's "The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change" suggests the following: (1) stabilizing and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, (2) developing renewable forms of energy, and (3) protecting the atmosphere. The world population is another factor.

My primary interest on the book is weather computing. According to the author, computing weather is a calculus problem. To be specific, it is an initial value problem. Many problems involving calculus are too complicated to be solved exactly. Fortunately, there exists method to find an approximate solution.

We can predict weather for three days or up to a week now. The limit on weather prediction is about three weeks due to the system is sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Thunderstorms and hurricanes are still too small to be resolved by the weather model's grids. A weather service would reduce the grid size of its model for better predictions when a faster computer is available. But models are not yet realistic enough to reproduce droughts or monsoons.

Predicting climate is a new field. We don't even know what is predictable. Climate prediction may be a boundary-value problem. Anyway, temperature is the single most important indicator to represent all the complexity and severity of climate change. However, scientific research is time consuming. On the other hand, the second edition of the book is available. There may be good news on predicting climate.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Clinton Winant on November 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
A very readable book for anyone trying to understand and sort through the misinformation surrounding climate change. It explains The Ozone Hole, The Greenhouse Effect, Acid Rain, El Nino and a host of other climate related events, and their outcomes both actual and predicted. Be sure to get the updated second edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sbrenema on December 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Overall, I thought that this was a good book on understanding what all the components are to understanding environmental change. Somerville does a really nice job explaining the environmental jargon so that people without an environmental science background are able to understand what is going on. The glossary is a very nice tool for looking up words.
As a whole, the book was pretty interesting, but I could have done without such a long chapter on how to weather and climates are computed. I thought that this chapter was a little dry, but I guess if it were not important to understanding environmental change, Somerville would not have included it in the text. The book also focuses on many different facets of climate change which was interesting to read about because the average person probably does not think about all of the things that lead to environmental change. I would recommend this book to peers who are interested in environmental change.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives you all the scientific facts, evidences that " Warming of the climate system is unequivocal" without any technical terms, jargons, scientific formula .
It is worth to spend resources to read it.
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By Allisse Rouleau on May 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
The Forgiving Air is an excellent read for those eager to comprehend more about the earth’s atmosphere, and the human effect on the depletion of the ozone and climate change. Despite having any prior scientific knowledge, this book makes learning about climate change understandable, as stated in the amendment to the title. The author, Professor Richard Somerville, does an exquisite job of breaking down the chemical processes that occur in the earth’s atmosphere into very simple examples that a general audience can understand. He thoroughly explains the human impact on the ozone-hole as well as the Greenhouse Effect by way of CFC’s and carbon emissions.
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