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The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 29, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, June 29, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly

Drawing from research on polar melting and current climate studies, paleontologist and NASA astrobiologist Ward (Under a Green Sky) depicts grim scenarios of the future as the ice caps melt away. Ward imagines Canadian indigenous people waging guerrilla warfare in 2030 on a government poisoning their bodies and ancestral lands with tars sands mining; Miami in 2120 as a lawless island abandoned by a federal government overwhelmed with building dikes to protect less doomed cities; topsoil from a dried-out Midwest being shipped in 2515 to an Antarctic Freehold State, one of the few locations where crops could still be grown; Bangladeshi refugees, fleeing their flooded nation after a 24-foot sea rise in 3004, being gunned down by Indian Border Security Forces. Ward assures us that it doesn't have to be this way and attempts a feeble optimism. He recommends a combination of lifestyle changes and technical solutions, although he warns that the latter are fraught with unknown perils. This is indisputably important information, but Ward's conclusion that hope is perhaps itself a goal, makes for a depressing read. (July)
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Kirkus
“NASA astrobiologist [Peter] Ward describes the disastrous changes that can be expected as sea levels continue their accelerating rise due to global warming… a blunt, vivid warning.”
 
SALON.com
A beautifully written, thoroughly research and relentlessly terrifying work, and a must-read for anybody with an interest in the environment or the future of our planet.” 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465009492
  • ASIN: B004NSVFOA
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,467,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen Balbach on July 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the more confusing aspects of the IPCC report was how far oceans will rise. The numbers in the report were not very worrisome, but many scientists said the seas could rise much further. Peter Ward tries to bring some clarity to the confusion. He says anything over 5 feet is beyond civilizations ability to deter and thus many places will be abandoned. Certain hot spots like Bangladesh, Holland, San Francisco, Venice, New Orleans and southern Florida make appearances as Ward envisions what they could look like in the future. His book is not a prediction. He offers instead scenarios that are within the realm of possibility because *they have happened before*. The geological record is chock full of evidence of rapidly rising seas. This is not debateable, it's as clear as a dinosaur bone (although some people deny dinosaurs existed). How exactly our future unfolds no one knows, Ward doesn't know either, but he looks at parallels between the past and present atmosphere and it's not pretty. One thing we are certain of however, as CO2 levels rise, so do the oceans.

25% of CO2 released by humans stays in the atmosphere for over 50,000 years, longer than the half-life of radiation. It's a permanent gift to the future and how it impacts sea level rise is significant - actions today will impact the future for a very long time. Oceans are currently rising 2mm a year, this is well documented. About 10,000 years ago they were rising at 2 inches per year, or 16 feet a century - again, well documented and not debated. The earth is very capable of doing it again.
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Ward's book opens a century from now with a Miami Beach being abandoned by the US government, as it evaluates what it can -- and can't -- defend against rising seas. Holdouts have lost water supplies (with swimming pools being used as reserve tanks for desalinated water) and any land connection to the mainland. Direct loss of land to rising seas represents only the tip of the (melted) iceberg due to rising seas. Lost water supplies (salt-water infiltration) will wreck havoc on agriculture and hability of coastal regions.

Ward brings to the table substantial scientific background and using earth's & humanity's history to illuminate the risks we face from rising seas in a warming world.

For those already concerned about climate change, reading Ward will heighten that concern. For those unconcerned, The Flooded Earth should change that position. And, for those unconcerned about learning from science and scientists, this isn't the book for you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good book, not as well written as some of his other books.
A very nice summary of our problems and some projections for the future.
A couple of things to remember though:
- Some of his projections are already out of date. This happens for all scientists nowadays, the earth is changing faster than predicted. For example, he expects 420ppm CO2 by 2030 when in reality it's more like 2020 (we are at 400ppm today and it increases about 3ppm every year, more in El Nino years).
- Expect the usual hopium about doing something. If you accept you cannot defeat entropy, what makes you think you can defeat human nature? Preparation yes, denial no.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have had trouble finding good information on near time frame projections for coastal flooding and its ramifications. Dr. Ward's book is very helpful to any one who wants to look out over the next 20-30-50 to 100 years at current scientific projections about sea level rise. His book is easy to read (not for geek scientists only) and it is very sobering. I gasped for breath on at least two occasions trying to take in the enormity of the inevitable impacts we will see more frequently from sea level rise prior to 2050, not to mention after that. I was able to use some of this information with my local School Board as part of a plea to them to encorporate oclimate adaptation measures into future school enlargement plans. You need a lot of confidence in your source to put forward bad news to those unfamiliar with climate change science, and Ward's book gave me the confidence to make a strong public statement. As frightening as the information is, it was empowering for me to be able to share some of it with others in my community.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Last week, a chunk of ice four times as large as Manhattan Island broke off the tongue of the Petermann Glacier in Greenland and went swimming in the sea. For me, immersed in The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps, it was striking evidence of what Peter D. Ward writes about: the loss of the polar icecaps and the melting of ice sheets and glaciers, caused by rising global temperatures. (At the same time, Russia was experiencing its worst drought and heat wave in recorded history, further evidence of the erratic weather created by warming.) Ward, a paleontologist who has studied the rise and retreat of ancient oceans and the mass extinctions related to ocean rise, knows what he's talking about, and his book is a full treatment (at least for the general reader) of the science behind his basic argument: that the oceans are rising and will continue to rise--unless humans reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

What I found most interesting about Ward's book (and perhaps most compelling, for many readers)are the dramatic fictionalizations of the impacts of greenhouse gases that appear at the beginning of each chapter. Chapter One opens in the drowning city of Miami, in 2120, with CO2 at 800 ppm--and Miami joining New Orleans and Galveston as abandoned cities. Chapter Three beings in Tunisia in 2060 CE, with carbon dioxide at 500 ppm--and features (I suspect) Ward himself, by this time an "old geologist" who studies evidence of mass extinctions. Food for the still-rising population is scarce, transportation fuel is not available for personal use, and the study of the past is a luxury that society can no longer afford.
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