From Publishers Weekly
Residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast have seen an unusually early hurricane season this year. Thousands of people die every month as drought continues to grip Africa. In August 2003, 15,000 people, mostly senior citizens, died in a French heat wave. Popular-science author Bowen shows readers how these events result from climate disruption caused by global warming. Bowen frames his story with the exploits of Lonnie Thompson, a professor at Ohio State who pioneered the study of glaciers near the equator. Thompson challenged and eventually changed accepted beliefs on how climate change occurs with his revolutionary lightweight-coring techniques that draw ice cores from glaciers in South America, on the China-Tibet border and elsewhere. Bowen explains how carbon dioxide and water vapor interact to regulate our planet's thermostat and argues that scientific evidence conclusively shows that use of fossil fuels has accelerated global warming; in our lifetimes, he predicts, the snows of Kilimanjaro will be no more. This book will appeal to mountaineering and climatology buffs, but should be read by everyone concerned about the future of our planet. (Nov.)
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From Scientific American
The idea of drilling ice in the tropics as a means of studying changes in climate over thousands of years seems implausible. That work is usually done in polar ice. But Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University, has taken ice cores from glaciers on many high mountains in the tropics and found that they add fruitfully to the history of climate change. His reasoning was that climate arises from flows of energy from the sun and that most of that energy enters the atmosphere through the tropics. Bowen, a science writer and mountain climber with a doctorate in physics, accompanied Thompson on several expeditions. In a smoothly flowing narrative, he describes drilling ice at high altitudes and explains the science that points to a steady rise in global temperature as a result of human activities. That science prompted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to declare in 2001 that there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. A change of nine or ten degrees would almost certainly cause widespread catastrophe, Bowen writes in summarizing the panel's predictions. Available freshwater would plummet, taking crop yields along with it.... Increased flooding would pose a deadly risk to tens of millions of residents of low-lying areas. But, Bowen says, doing anything effective to curb the trend will be difficult: The economic interests who fear any sensible discussion of global warming have succeeded in politicizing this branch of science more perhaps than any other.
Editors of Scientific American