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A World Without Ice Hardcover – October 15, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; First Edition edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583333576
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583333570
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,092,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, Univ. of Mich. geophysicist Pollack (Uncertain Science) shares the warning call of Al Gore (his co-recipient), that "humanity has arrived at an historic moment of decision." According to science, Pollack explains, humanity may soon lose the polar ice caps altogether, with dire consequences. Pollack explains how glacial ice is "a major player" in the climate: snow and ice "account for much of the sunshine reflected from the surface" and their disappearance will only accelerate the rate of global warming. Using geological evidence (800 bore-holes drilled on the earth's continental crust), Pollack and his colleagues have established that the past 500 years have seen a 2-degree increase in the Earth's average temperature, and that "fully half of the warming occurred in the 20th century." While taking account of countervailing forces (like periodic variations in the earth's orbit, explosive volcanism, and changes in solar radiation) Pollack shows that no single natural force can reverse the present trend, which if unchecked will render the Earth uninhabitable. This important wake up call joins a rapidly growing selection; this volume distinguishes itself with a Nobel pedigree and a sound, straightforward approach.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"In a world where everything frozen is now melting, we should barely need a book to get our attention. But clearly we do, and this is the book-a thorough reminder of what it means to live in a planet with poles and glaciers, and what it will be like without them."
-Bill McKibben, co-founder of and author of the national bestseller Deep Economy

"Skiers rejoice when snow falls and Inuit hunters welcome sea ice, while commuters find winter storms an inconvenience. Henry Pollack has a much broader view. Speaking eloquently, forcefully, yet lyrically, he explains how snow and ice are the clockworks of our planet. A World Without Ice is a fascinating, scary, but informative portrait of Earth's delicate climate balance and the thresholds we are staring across."
-Jon Turk, author of The Raven's Gift

"The work of Dr. Pollack and the IPCC in bringing attention to the very serious dangers posed by climate change has been justly praised. This book shows how essential ice-caps and glaciers are. It is a welcome contribution to planetary conservation."
-Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and author of The Challenge For Africa

"A World Without Ice is part a history of ice on Earth, part a scientist's love song to his subject, and part an unsentimental eulogy to ice...The book offers a great opportunity for the novice to dip into climate science first-hand."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"Seldom has a scientist written so well and so clearly for the lay reader. Pollack's explanations of how researchers can tell that the climate is warming faster than normal are free of the usual scientific jargon and understandable."
-Betty Galbraith, Washington State Univ. Lib., Pullman; Library Journal, starred review

"Pollack, a geophysicist with the admirable ability to communicate in a language other than math, presents the stark facts of today's [climate] situation and offers careful descriptions of the likelihood of a frightening future, should earth's climate continue to change. . . . But he also offers some realistic hope that catastrophes may be mitigated, if not avoided."
-Patricia Monaghan, Booklist, starred review

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Henry Pollack is a Professor of Geophysics (Emeritus) at the University of Michigan. He has taught at every level of the curriculum, from introductory courses for non-scientists to specialized graduate seminars. His current research activities focus on the record of global warming, as recorded by the temperatures in the rocks beneath the Earth's surface. The Earth's crust retains a thermal archive of past climate that presents a glimpse of what the Earth was like in the pre-industrial era, and which enables scientists to assess the human impact on Earth's climate.

Pollack has served on many advisory panels for the National Science Foundation, testified before National Academy of Sciences and U.S. Senate committees, and provided briefings about climate change to Congress and the White House. He has published widely in scientific journals, is a Contributing Author to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Assessment Report, and a member of the training faculty of Al Gore's Climate Project. He is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the author of "Uncertain Science ... Uncertain World", published by the Cambridge University Press in 2003, and of "A World Without Ice", published by Penguin in 2009.

Customer Reviews

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Dr. Pollack's explanation of this climate change issue is very thorough and understandable.
In the end he encourages the everyday person to rise up to the challenge and stop this problem that will affect everyone and everyone's future.
Tong Thao
If you want a well-written, highly-readable explanation of the science behind global warming, here it is.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By OzoneSky on October 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dr Pollack clarifies the climate change issue in calm terms: By 2030 the ice will be gone and with it the way we have been living for the last 10,000 years. Up until now, civilization thrived downstream from glaciers, bathing in and drinking from the seasonal ice melt that also fed crops and animals which in turn fed us. When the glaciers and ice caps vanish, nature turns the tap off, leaving us in a challenging situation.

More importantly, Dr Pollack also explains why ice is such an important barometer of climate change. Ice is, he explains, very close to its melting point, so the slightest change in CO2 levels triggers an immediate response from the glaciers. A warming earth triggers a rise in sea levels, as water expands when it gets warmer. A warming earth also holds less landmass moisture as the earth loses more and more water to evaporation. Millions of people will be displaced by these events and Dr Pollock makes it quite clear that we are not ready for the greatest challenge that civilization has ever faced.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wharton Sinkler on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
'A World Without Ice' by Henry Pollack provides a well-rounded introduction to the most important change arising due to global warming - the loss of substantial amounts of earth's ice. The account is highly readable and entertaining, in addition to providing a clear summary of how far this process is already advanced and where it will likely lead. The changes already under way include substantial loss of high elevation glaciation at low latitudes (Kilimanjaro is projected to be ice-free by 2020 etc.). As the book makes clear, the most disruptive changes for humans involve the loss of ice near the earth's poles. Dr. Pollack shows that reasonable projections of the warming process reveal a potential for sea level rising by tens of feet or more, with an accompanying displacement of hundreds of millions of people.
The book is also really entertaining and informative. Dr Pollack is not reluctant to digress into fascinating areas of human and geological history, which makes this a pleasure to read. He provides unique insights into the scientific process and the careful record-keeping which has brought us to our current understanding of geologic history (how fundamentally the earth has changed, in often cataclysmic ways), and how clear the evidence really is for a recent departure from historic trends, coinciding with the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the industrial era.
Dr. Pollack does not pull his punches in regard to the tactics of the 'climate contras', pointing out for example their reliance on non-peer-reviewed venues to make attacks and try to stimulate doubts concerning the scientific evidence for warming.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James Keson on March 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If your mind is already made up about global warming, you don't need to buy this book. On the other hand, if you think that the question is too important to leave to the talking heads on television, then you might consider facts and arguments in this thoughtful, cautious book.

"A World Without Ice" is like a good conversation with a kindly professor who is willing to discuss all the uncertainties and conditionals in the complex arguments about global warming.

Ice been a feature of the planet for thousands of years. What is happening to it has been studied by historians, archaeologists, geologists, biologists, meteorologists and thousands of other scientists. The overwhelming evidence is that glaciers and icecaps are diminishing - exactly how and why is becoming clearer with each passing year. This important book offers an easily understandable introduction to evaluating the evidence for yourself.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Learner on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you want a well-written, highly-readable explanation of the science behind global warming, here it is.

Do you know exactly how carbon dioxide and methane trap heat? Do you know how glaciers work and why you should care? Do you know why scientists are so concerned about warming? I didn't either, but now I do. There are a lot of great explanations in this book.

I appreciated the lack of polemics in this book. Despite the sensational title, the author merely presents the science in a calm and reasoned way. Only at the very end of the book does he give a call to action - and by that time it will likely be obvious to you that urgent action is called for.

The only fault I find with the book is that, for me personally, the author takes the topic a little too broadly. He takes little side trips into related matters or personal interest stories. I skimmed over these, eager to get the main facts.

Even if you are a doubter, you owe it to yourself as an educated person to read at least one book that clearly explains the scientific case for human-caused warming. This would be a good choice. Pollack addresses the major critiques of warming in a way I found convincing.

I was interested in Al Gore's film Inconvenient Truth. But he never explained to me why I should care, what is really at stake, what is supposed to happen in the future. A World without Ice gave me the extra information I needed to understand this issue.

Another excellent book on the topic: Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, published by National Geographic. It's a very readable summary of the scientific evidence.
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