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A World Without Ice Hardcover – October 15, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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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 350.org 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,632,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A World Without Ice is certainly an important and informative book, as the author makes the case that without immediate and substantial action into curtailing our combustion of coal, natural gas, and petroleum fuels, we will undoubtedly melt all the polar ice and glaciers in the world this century. This, of course, will raise our sea level hundreds of feet, resulting in God knows what types of problems in the world. Imagine starving refugees flooding the borders, and that's probably just a start. Rather than being an alarmist, the author strikes me as level-headed and "having done his homework".

One could say "balderdash", or some other stronger language, but the reality is that in the earth's near past, high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have done exactly what the author predicts - melt all the ice caps in the world. The reasons why this "natural" event is no longer acceptable include:

1) We are the cause of the carbon dioxide build-up this time; and we can stop the CO2 build-up if we wanted to;

2) Lots and lots of people live below two hundred feet elevation, and they will want somewhere else to live; and

3) A hotter world is not that great for growing food for billions of people, due to droughts at times, and unstoppable flooding at other times. (A warming planet is both drier when it doesn't rain, and wetter when it does finally get around to raining, due to more heat in the air, and also more water vapor in the heated air).

And yes, I've studied climate science since 1978, long before it became fashionable, so I know what I'm talking about, as does the author. Be a skeptic at your own peril.

The book can lapse into a type of academic approach at times, although it is certainly readable to the average person.
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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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