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The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth Hardcover – Illustrated, January 27, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Mammologist and paleontologist Flannery (The Eternal Frontier), who in recent years has become well known for his controversial ideas on conservation, the environment and population control, presents a straightforward and powerfully written look at the connection between climate change and global warming. It's destined to become required reading following Hurricane Katrina as the focus shifts to the natural forces that may have produced such a devastating event. Much of the book's success is rooted in Flannery's succinct and fascinating insights into related topics, such as the differences between the terms greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change, and how the El Niño cycle of extreme climatic events "had a profound re-organising effect on nature." But the heart of the book is Flannery's impassioned look at the earth's "colossal" carbon dioxide pollution problem and his argument for how we can shift from our current global reliance on fossil fuels [...]. Flannery consistently produces the hard goods related to his main message that our environmental behavior makes us all "weather makers" who "already possess all the tools required to avoid catastrophic climate change."
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From Bookmarks Magazine

The arguments, evidence, and conclusions should surprise few readers in Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe and Flannery's The Weather Makers. Given existing scientific knowledge, neither author (and no critic) doubts that global warming is real, with terrible consequences looming ahead.<P>The difference between the books largely comes down to tone and style. Kolbert, a reporter for the New Yorker, provides an excellent primer on climate change. Praised for her elegance and accessibility, she offers a loose travelogue with "the clearest view yet of the biggest catastrophe we have ever faced" (Los Angeles Times). She takes her science seriously—from sulfate droplets to recarbonization—and rarely lets her belief in impending catastrophe cloud her objectivity. Flannery's book may appeal more to activists. However, the Chicago Sun-Times thought that his passionate clarion call to action undermined sound arguments; others criticized scattered information and incomplete discussion on ways individuals can counteract climate change. Still, like Kolbert, Flannery elucidates complex concepts in climatology, paleontology, and economics. In the end, both books ask a crucial question: "Will we be lauded by future generations for heeding the advice of our best scientific minds, or remembered hereafter as counterexamples—as paragons of hubris, of a colossal failure of the imagination?" (Los Angeles Times).<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First edition. edition (January 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139351
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on February 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Not another book on climate change!", you lament. Readers may feel surfeited by the rash of books on "global warming" appearing in the past few years. The feeling is understandable. The situation should be considered an indication of how serious the problem is for all humanity. In this case, the author introduces a little-considered aspect. Tim Flannery, whose keen eye and bountiful wit always offers something new presented in a easily readable way, will not leave you jaded nor have your head nodding in ennui. Although Flannery does address some questions dealt with elsewhere, he adds the most significant topic of all - the future of life.

As a zoologist, Flannery has extensive field experience in the forests of New Guinea and elsewhere. He's written of human impact on large animals in North America and Australia. Here, he writes of human impact on all life. Instead of hunting animals to extinction, humans are modifying the entire biosphere through pollutants and gases. This indirect imposition has already killed off at least one species, he demonstrates. In explaining how the Golden Toad went extinct, Flannery sets the scene expansively. The Toad wasn't just a local phenomenon, but died out due to wide-ranging changes in ocean temperature, air mass movements and changes in rainfall. This combination of influences resulted in what appeared to us as a minimal change in habitat. To the Golden Toad, that "minimal change" proved catastrophic. The object lesson is clear. How much change will the species humans rely on for survival tolerate? Flannery, citing James Lovelock's "Gaia" hypothesis of the biosphere as a tightly woven "system", argues that the tolerance for change is meagre. And human-induced change is squeezing the tolerance downward.
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100 of 115 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tim Flannery's account of man made changes in our climate is a book which will appeal to a wide audience. Scientists, meteorologists, and others with a professional interest in climate and the weather will appreciate the broad range of expertise Flannery demonstrates throughout this work. A scientist and conservationist himself, Flannery obviously knows what he is talking about. Readers without such a scientific background will enjoy this work because Flannery, like Jared Diamond, is able to write about what could be mind-numbingly complex issues with a wit and clarity that holds one's interest. As an Australian, Flannery writes from the perspective of a citizen of one of the nations which is most heavily environmentally stressed. And it is vital for humanity in Australia and elsewhere to become more conversant with the issues Flannery covers so well.

The Weather Makers describes the many effects human activities have had on our planetary climate, beginning with the development of agriculture and proceeding on to the most recent headlines. Flannery analyzes the probabilities of catastrophic climate changes, stressing that this is not really a question of "If" but "When." He is alarming but not alarmist, not stooping to the level of "The Day After Tomorrow" for example, but also making it clear that even though drastic weather changes will not happen tomorrow, they certainly will within our life times and those of our children unless action is taken.

Flannery is clear about what action needs to be taken. Although not overly enthusiastic about the Kyoto Accord, for example, he does herald it as a good first step.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on March 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by one of Canada's leading advocates for saving the Polar Regions. He told me I should read this book if I wanted to read the best book that has been written on climate change. I was skeptical, but he was right. This is the best book I have found on the subject of climate change.

The author, Tim Flannery, is a well recognized scientist himself. He begins the book by discussing his reservations about global warming, how scientists are supposed to be skeptical and how much data must be present before scientific consensus can occur. From there, he explains how he was convinced that climate change was real.

In the book, the author starts discussing climate change from many different scientific aspects. Although some of the science is tough, even for science majors such as myself, the specifics of the science involved are used more as examples, allowing readers with less of a scientific background to understand exactly what is being said. The author does a great job of utilizing a number of sciences, including anthropology, biology, chemistry, physics, climatology, meteorology, geology, oceanography and more to prove the argument that climate change exists from every angle.

In addition, he does a great job showing how something happening in one place may affect a totally different region of the world. He covers climate change around the globe in a comprehensive manner, and shows how different peoples will be affected.

Finally, the author discusses what is being done and by whom. He points out the lack of effort to change in the US, as well as in Australia and other countries. He presents good arguments for the slowing global warming and for the economic benefits that countries would enjoy.
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