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Showing 1-10 of 20 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 27 reviews
on January 2, 2016
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- Some of his projections are already out of date.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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on September 14, 2013
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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on July 7, 2010
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. No one is saying 16' in a century *will* happen, in fact it's very unlikely, but oceans have risen and fallen very often in the past and this process is tied to CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which is expected to be at levels way beyond anything seen in millions of years. Could seas rise that far or fast? They already have. This is ultimately the message by Ward - he makes no *prediction* that it *will* happen, he offers scenarios informed by what has happened, and suggests there are enough parallels with those events in the past with the present to be concerned. Anyone who denies that position is either intellectually dishonest or not operating in good faith.

My quibbles with the book is it written breathlessly, parts repeat, it could have used better editing to enhance the killer points. I read it on a Kindle and was surprised when it was over at 70% - the remaining 30% is notes, bibliography and index [one of the disadvantages of a scroll-like kindle, versus a codex-like book, is its hard to find where a book proper ends, it sneaks up on you]. Overall a quick and sometimes entertaining read about a serious subject. It will no doubt bring out the deniers who will misrepresent it, but if you're at all interested in what the possibilities of sea level rise are, this is a good book to look at.
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on September 18, 2010
As always, Peter Ward has written a book that combines all kinds of personal experience and interesting details from recent research with a strong theme that is carried through his book. In this case, he looks at the issue of sea level rise due to global warming. This is not his area of expertise, so he relies on the research of others. This is perhaps the one weaker area of the book that could be attacked by global warming deniers. In spite of this, he also manages to weave in evidence or perspectives gained from both his hobby of ocean diving and his profession as a geologist who has specialized in the study of past mass-extinction events. The result is a somewhat speculative book on the future sea level scenarios with colorful anecdotes and personal stories sprinkled in.

This books follows what seems to be a popular format for recent books like this. Each chapter starts out with one or two fictional future scenarios set anywhere from a few decades to a few millenia in the future that demonstrate one possible outcome of the issue he covers in that chapter. Major themes in the book are possible rates for ice loss, possible sea level rises from this and other events, the threats to coastal cities, low-lying agricultural land and aquifers, the potential for changes in ocean currents and chemistry that could threaten extinction events and the potential for technological and engineering solutions to mitigate the damage.

Most official global warming reports or models underestimate or fail to take into consideration some of the more recent research and ideas on ice loss and sea level rise. Perhaps because he is a geologist and not a climate modeler, Ward eschews the typical conservative caveat-laced approach that many climatologists take when dealing with these issues and presents some of the more bleak scenarios that other authors on this topic on seem to suggest in their subtext. The result is the stark possibility that polar ice caps may melt much more quickly than generally thought and sea level may rise more than official predictions suggest. Ward combines not only evidence from his field, namely the distant geological past, but also recent evidence suggesting these shorter possible timetables.

This is an excellent and engaging book that covers some of the same territory as the growing list of books on global warming, but does in it Ward's unique way that manages to make the reader think about things in ways that may not be apparent by reading other books on this topic. This book will probably be most popular among fans of science who accept scientific conclusions on global warming. Those who deny global warming will almost certainly find the book to be a bit alarmist and based on shaky presumptions. For the rest of us, it's a sobering and honest look at some real obstacles the world may potentially face in the next few generations.
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on July 1, 2017
Awesome. We should send 10,000 copies to the Dumpnut Administration.
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on January 7, 2014
This book is well written and draws on many climate studies resulting in a clear and non-technical explanation of what we can expect over the next century and beyond in terms of climate change. If you are confused about climate forecasts or if you are a doubter with an open mind, and are willing to spend a little time examining the conclusions of numerous independent scientists around the world presented in a very readable style, then this book is for you. I wish everyone would read this. A lot hangs in the balance. If you are well informed, as you will should be after reading this book, you will be better able to judge the political rhetoric, counter claims, and understand the economic inertia that keeps us immobile in the face of what is coming.
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on January 13, 2017
The author addresses several possible outcomes that our species will face in the near and distant future, in light of pending climate change. These are difficult scenarios that are well written, while being accessible and timely.
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on August 18, 2010
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. Chapter Four is set in the Sacramento Valley in 2135, with CO2 at 800 ppm, the rivers dried up by drought, the ocean invading the valleys and salt polluting the land and aquifers, agricultural land ruined. These dramatizations illustrate the arguments made in the chapter and allow Ward to say "Listen up, learn, take action--or this is our future."

Ward acknowledges that he and all the other scientists who are bringing this hugely important issue to our attention are considered Cassndras. "I am not sure what a Cassandra is," he adds. "But I know what I indeed am: scared."

The message of this book: If you're not scared, too, you should be--scared enough to join those who are attempting to reduce CO2 to 350 ppm. Ward himself is not optimistic "about the prospect of forestalling calamity," but outlines some climate-protecting strategies and technologies that might help, if they are implemented very soon. His conclusion isn't hopeful--but realism is what we need now, not glib answers or false hopes. This book delivers that terrifying message better than anything else I've yet to read
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on January 6, 2013
This is another informative, well constructed picture of planet Earth from Dr. Ward. I gave three away to family and friends who are enjoying the read as well. The futuristic format is being validated by a number of events and observations since the book was published. One can only hope the two thirds of the US population that is still uninformed or unconcerned becomes enlightened to the facts in time to slow down our contribution to this serious problem.
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on August 5, 2010
Mr. Ward presents all sides of a contentious issue, in easy to read format, with enough solid science (made quite readable for those of us not deep into science) to assure the reader this is not driven by promoting the agenda of any particular group or industry. He takes the time to address many of the poltical problems surrounding "global warming solutions" from enough perspectives that the reader feels he now understands what the real problems are as compared to the over hyped scare tactics of some and the dismissive attitude of people who continue to claim "It's just not so." He does it with a balanced approach, including some realistic time lines, with no assertion of certitude, but merely presenting an intelligent analysis of known facts, and a reasonable range of projections as to what effects might occur over what time periods.

It is a complex issue, with hard choices, requiring thorough analysis, not short spots in the media, which create panic or ennui.

If we care about our grandchildren and great grandchildren, if we want to leave them a habitable planet, capable of feeding the world's population, over the next two or three centuries, then the world needs some statesmen, not political windbags, capable of building enough consensus to allow difficult decisions in the near future.
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