From Publishers Weekly
Pearce (When the Rivers Run Dry
) presents some climate modelers' frightening predictions about the consequences of increased global warming. After studying the history of the earth's climate changes, these scientists have learned that, under pressure from natural forces, major shifts can happen abruptly. Today, with the added stress of human interference, irreversible changes could threaten the habitability of our planet. For example, drought and fire could cause the Amazon rainforest to disappear; huge amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that can be 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, could be released by the meltdown of Siberian peat; and aerosol emissions in India and China could end the indispensable Asian monsoon. Hard-line skeptics disagree, of course, but Pearce cites highly respected scientists who assert that the threats have been underestimated, especially by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Even President Bush's chief climate modeler notes that the glaciers and ice sheets at the poles are disintegrating at alarming rates and warns that we may be only a decade and one degree of warming away from global catastrophe. The science behind climate studies is complex, but Pearce makes it accessible enough to terrify even the most uninitiated layperson. (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* Pearce, author of When the River Runs Dry
(2006), prides himself on being a skeptical environmental journalist, and now, after covering climate change for 18 years, he has no doubt that we are "interfering with the fundamental processes that make Earth habitable." Believing that everyone needs to understand exactly what is happening on the planet, Pearce consults with experts on ocean currents, polar ice, the carbon cycle, methane, and soot; reports on the rapid melting of polar ice and the Siberian permafrost, the "brown haze" of Asia, and record-breaking heat waves, droughts, and wildfires; and explains that because the earth's systems are intricately interconnected and finely calibrated, small alterations can have abrupt and enormous consequences. Pearce presents a cogent rundown of the findings that establish greenhouse gases as a global warming catalyst and, most disturbingly, provides careful analysis of evidence indicating that climatic change has never been gradual. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved