Under a green sky: global warming, the mass extinctions of the past, and what they mean for our future

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Smithsonian Books/Collins, Apr 17, 2007 - Science - 242 pages
23 Reviews

By looking backward at the course of great extinctions, a paleontologist sees what the future holds.

More than 200 million years ago, a cataclysmic event known as the Permian extinction destroyed more than 90 percent of all species and nearly 97 percent of all living things. Its origins have long been a puzzle for paleontologists. During the 1990s and the early part of this century, a great battle was fought between those who thought that death had come from above and those who thought something more complicated was at work.

Paleontologist Peter. D. Ward, fresh from helping prove that an asteroid had killed the dinosaurs, turned to the Permian problem, and he has come to a stunning conclusion. In his investigations of the fates of several groups of mollusks during that extinction and others, he discovered that the near-total devastation at the end of the Permian period was caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide leading to climate change. But it's not the heat (nor the humidity) that's directly responsible for the extinctions, and the story of the discovery of what is responsible makes for a fascinating, globe-spanning adventure.

In Under a Green Sky, Ward explains how the Permian extinction as well as four others happened, and describes the freakish oceans—belching poisonous gas—and sky—slightly green and always hazy—that would have attended them. Those ancient upheavals demonstrate that the threat of climate change cannot be ignored, lest the world's life today—ourselves included—face the same dire fate that has overwhelmed our planet several times before.

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Review: Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future

User Review  - Tomas Hruby - Goodreads

The scariest book I have read this year. It gave me radically new perspective on the reasons behind most extinsions. The theory about the change of oceans is very strongly supported and seems very plausible and extremly important for this time. Read full review

Review: Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future

User Review  - Marlon - Goodreads

Eye opener. If we do not change the system right now, we're doomed. Read full review

Contents

Welcome to the Revolution i
1
The Overlooked Extinction
37
The Mother of All Extinctions
61
Copyright

9 other sections not shown

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About the author (2007)

Dr. Peter D. Ward is a professor of biology and earth an

Dr. Peter D. Ward is a professor of biology and earth and space sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.d space sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an astrobiologist with NASA. Ward is the He also serves as an astrobiologist with NASA. Ward is the author of more than a dozen books, including the highly acclauthor of more than a dozen books, including the highly acclaimed "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Univeaimed "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe" with Donald Brownlee and "Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Brse" with Donald Brownlee and "Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere". irds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere".

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