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With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change Paperback – March 1, 2008
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More About the Author
Photo Copyright Photographer Name: Fred Pearce, 2012.
Top Customer Reviews
Pearce goes through a checklist of major concerns scientists are looking at: Melting ice in Greenland and the Arctic. Glaciological "monsters" lurking in Pine Island Bay and Totten glacier. The stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet. El Nino getting stuck, trigger droughts or super-storms. The Amazon rain forest disappearing due to drought or fire. The acidification of the oceans. Damage to the atmospheric hydroxyl smog cleaning system. Influences of the stratosphere on global warming. Methane releases from melting arctic bogs. The North Atlantic conveyor belt shutdown. Frozen undersea methane clathrates. The impact of soot. The unknown factor of clouds. The many ways the sun and the earths orbit effects climate change. And much more.
In addition he covers a bit of history including a history of the debate between the the polar and tropical camps on what is the driver of climate change. His explanation of El Nino was simple yet it finally made sense to me how it works and why it is so important.
Interleaved throughout is the common narrative that climate is not a steady beast, but an unpredictable "drunk", who prodded a little can go off in a sudden unexpected bender. This is an excellent overview that is easy to read, fascinating, well written roller-coaster of ideas and insights.
Charles Keeling began collecting CO2 data at the top of Mauna Loa (14,000 feet) in 1958 (315 ppm), 320 in 1965, 331 in 1975, and 380 now - the level is increasing at an accelerating rate. Nineteen of the twenty warmest years have occurred since 1980, and the five warmest years all since 1998. Thus, credible evidence indicates that global problem is real, and getting worse.
Skeptics claim, however, that weather balloon data do not reveal a daytime warming trend. Pearce explains this is most likely because until recently the thermometers used read too high because they were not shielded from UV rays; further, balloon night-time readings have risen during the same period. Others suggest that warming data are due to urban "heat islands" - on the other hand, the greatest increases are in the polar and oceanic areas, and the "heat island" effect are not affected by windy weather. Another possible explanation is sunspots - data from 1850 onward correlates well with temperature increases, UNTIL 1980 when sunspot activity began declining while warming continued. Finally, a review of almost 1,000 peer-reviewed papers on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 found an almost universal consensus that global warming exists.
"With Speed and Violence" then goes on to review potential tipping points. The Amazon rainforest is the largest living reservoir of CO2 on the earth's land surface - its trees contain 17 billion tons of carbon and its soil perhaps as much again.Read more ›
But while much of the material in this book is quite fascinating for the concerned citizen, and would probably be a shock to the politicized skeptic, there is a real problem with Pearce's presentation style. Pearce is a magazine writer, and his skill in creating short hard-hitting articles does not translate well into book form. Here, an avalanche of different scientific topics zoom by in brief chapters averaging about five pages in length, resulting in a lot of introductions but very little in-depth analysis or closure. Meanwhile, the myriad topics eventually drift into increasingly conjectural theories and historical coverage of weather-related natural disasters, all of which drift away from the main topic of human-caused climate change.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you read only one book about climate change, this is the one! Sophisticated information made eminently accessible and a reading pleasure despite the subject material.Published 12 days ago by Patrick Hogan
This is one book that you need to read more than once to even begin to understand it. Believe me it is worth the effort, for it is a riveting book, and one I found hard to put... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Joan L. Draper
A rare book, set in terms for the layman. No screaming, no polemics. Just a carefully structured argument for informed citizen action, by a journo who has covered the subject for... Read morePublished 20 months ago by A. M. Wagner
From albedo to Sahara dust, from the North Atlantic chimneys to threats to the conveyor belt, from Asian cooking fires to the half life of hydroxyl, this book provides the most... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Avalon
This is the best book I have read on climate change. The author does an excellent job in interviewing key climate researchers across the globe, presenting their findings in clear,... Read morePublished 22 months ago by tagger9
The best single reference on tipping points, but some of them have more recent observations or theory that should be checked before any are accepted. Read morePublished on September 14, 2013 by DavidMills
This book is a review of different aspects of climate change. Each chapter focuses on a different tipping point in climate and goes through a history of related research on that... Read morePublished on February 27, 2013 by Roxana Javid
I'm only half way through the book and can only prey it's not happening. The ramifications of the book's content is staggering in what it could signify for the remainder of the... Read morePublished on January 5, 2012 by Rommel
This is an important and informative book about climate change, both from an historical perspective to projections for the future. Read morePublished on June 8, 2011 by Trish