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198 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Will Be A Short Review: Read The Book!, November 4, 2007
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This review is from: Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future (Hardcover)
Mr. Flygore and others have dispassionately summarized Under A Green Sky. Pardon me if I don't repeat their efforts. The significant theses which Peter Ward presents are: 1. geologically rapid climate change has been the underlying cause of most great "extinction" events. Those events have been, as S Gould hypothesized, major drivers of evolution.2. drastic climate change has not always been gradual; there is good empirical evidence of catastrophic warming events taking place in centuries, perhaps even decades. 3. the impact of atmospheric warming is most potent in its modification of ocean chemistry and of circulating currents; warming inevitably leads to non-mixing anoxic dead seas. 4. we are already in the middle, not the beginning, of an anthropogenic global warming, caused by agriculture and deforestation, which began some 10,000 years ago but which is now accelerating exponentially; though the earliest wave of anthropogenic warming has been stabilizing and beneficial to human development (civilization), it appears to have the potential for catastrophic effects within a lifetime or two.

Mr. Ward's other recent book, Out Of Thin Air, makes the case for changes in atmospheric chemistry being a major driver of evolution at the level of family and even order. This book recapitulates some of that hypothesis and the evidence to support it. I can hardly imagine that you will want to read one without wanting to read the other. This book is the friendlier to the non-scientist, made readable by an anecdotal science-adventure framework. In short, it's a pleasure to read... until you catch the spoor of Ward's dire predictions for our common future.

As a paleobotanist, Ward is well positioned to "see the whole picture" of climate change in the past, but he also points the reader toward other significant studies of the same events. One such is Tony Hallam's "Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities". Hallam is an oceanographic paleontologist; his research focuses on rising and falling sea levels, and on the causes and effects thereof, which he correlates very convincingly with extinction events, and which he presumes to be chiefly the result of tectonic plate movement. Ward's analysis based on atmospheric changes and Hallam's based on oceanic changes are, I dare say, more or less complementary. Both have radical implications for the current Darwinian model of evolution. Both have horrendously alarming implications for the fairly near future of humankind.

I note that Under A Green Sky is ranked 22,897th in sales on amazon, with 12 reviews. For comparison, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years - a book of politicized pseudo-science - is 665th in sales, with 131 reviews, the majority gloatingly favorable. We're in trouble.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2007 6:49:19 PM PST
Mr Bruno - I loved your old icon photo of the campo dei fiori, the field of flowers, but I see the point of you new photo. Is that the San Diego County fire?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2007 7:00:57 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2007 8:42:38 AM PST
Reviewer says:
Los Angeles County, but the same episode of fires.
By the way, I strongly urge everyone to read Mike Birman's extended comments in the thread attached to my review of Global Warming and Other Eco-myths. Mike is absolutely solid and concise, and as moderate as one can be these days.

Posted on Nov 7, 2007 8:44:56 AM PST
Seems to be a very interesting (and maybe scary) book, and it was a good review. I will put on my reading list.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2007 5:48:13 AM PST
I am not sure about global warming. I do not dismiss it either. Regardless of what I think, this may be an important book. This is also a good review. Two of the problems in the global warming debate are junk science vs. actual science and politisizing the debate.

Posted on Jun 2, 2008 9:57:44 AM PDT
Doctor Who says:
I have been teaching about global warming and business ethics in my MBA class for three years, using the Kolbert book but having read others. I want to comment on this useful review with respect to the final reference to "Unstoppable" -- a book published by well known deniers of climate change whose funding comes from the coal & oil industry. The day these folks had their latest "conference" in New York, our little private Quaker school (Pre-K through 8th grade) got a "free" hardback copy of "Unstoppable" with DVD included sent to it as part of their "education" of teachers nation-wide. Last fall my Geology colleagues told me they all got a free "reprint" in the mail of a pseudo-peer reviewed article by an otherwise non-existent journal, also denying climate change. If these people would spend a little of their money on responding to the real need instead of encouraging denial, we would be alot better off. And meanwhile, we need books like this distributed to science teachers. I also recommend the DVD of "Everything's Cool," which shows you some of the deniers at work... Bruce L. Rockwood, Bloomsburg University

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2008 10:04:52 AM PDT
Reviewer says:
Thanks, Doc Who! I've been giving away my various books relating to climate change to local schools, and I'd encourage others to do so also.

Posted on Jan 13, 2009 7:56:56 AM PST
Crosslands says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2009 3:42:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 13, 2009 3:54:45 PM PST
WHM says:
Mr. Crosslands has a great deal to learn. In his reviews and comments, Mr. Crosslands often refers to "evidence" published in obscure journals that aren't in the ISI Web of Science database. He must know that.

I'd like to see Mr. Crosslands' comments on evidence published in serious journals like "Nature" and "Science". Writing a "Letter to the Editor" in Nature or Science doesn't take much time.

Here is the link, Mr. Crosslands:

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2009 8:12:33 PM PST
Reviewer says:
Thanks, WHM, for stepping in. I've long since abandoned any exchanges on this subject via amazon, as quixotic and frustrating.

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2010 1:44:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 16, 2010 1:45:13 PM PDT
Whenever climate-change denialists' fantasies are shot down, they do not reconsider their position; they merely mint new, ad-hoc alibis. Assertions that the climate has changed more drastically in the past are the sort of half-truth (more a three-quarters-lie) that deniers love to trot out. The climate has not shown such drastic change in over 1,000 years; even more drastic changes have occurred--but not since human society has come into being. As far as the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere being relatively small; I am reminded of the story about the woman who gave birth out of wedlock. She excused her baby on the grounds that it was a small one. Carbon dioxide has a heat-trapping ability all out of proportion to its percentage of atmospheric gases, something known in the 19th century. Botulin (a toxin from the bacteria Cloristridia botulinium) can kill humans in minute amounts. I doubt anyone would dismiss its lethality on the grounds that a few micrograms of it are 'too small to make a difference'. Climate-change denialists are invited to add some to their morning coffee to see how it goes.
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