Coming Climate Crisis?: Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Apr 16, 2010 - Political Science - 432 pages
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Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, distinguished NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a deeply knowledgeable overview of global conditions past and present, the author lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of various projects now under consideration to modify future climate. In one compact volume, Parkinson presents a coherent synopsis of the 4.6-billion-year history of climate change on planet Earth—both before and after humans became a significant factor—and explores current concerns regarding continued global warming and its possible consequences. She ranges over the massive geoengineering schemes being proposed and why we need to be cautious about them, the limitations of current global climate models and projections, the key arguments made by those skeptical of the mainstream views, and the realistic ways we can lessen destructive human impacts on our planet. While discussing all of these polarizing topics, the author consistently shows respect for the views of alarmists, skeptics, and the vast majority of people whose positions lie somewhere between those two extremes. The book clarifies some of the most contentious points in the climate debate, and in the process treats us to a fascinating discussion interweaving Earth history, science, the history of science, and human nature. Readers will be rewarded with a genuine understanding of a complex issue that could be among the most important facing humankind in the coming decades.
 

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Contents

C H A P T E R 1 Introduction
3
C H A P T E R 2 46 Billion Years of Global Change
27
C H A P T E R 3 Abrupt Climate Change
73
PART I I The Human Factor
91
C H A P T E R 4 A Short History of Human Impacts
93
Why Some People Are So Concerned while Others Arent
125
PART I I I Good Intentions and Geoengineering
149
C H A P T E R 6 Good Intentions Gone Awry
151
Model Limitations
235
C H A P T E R 1 1 Compounding Social Pressures
259
PART V Avoiding Paralysis despite Uncertainty
293
C H A P T E R 1 2 What Are the Alternatives?
295
C H A P T E R 1 3 Closing Plea
323
Abbreviations
337
Notes
341
References
359

C H A P T E R 7 Geoengineering Schemes
165
C H A P T E R 8 The Record on SmallerScale Attempted Modifi cations
193
PART IV Further Cautionary Considerations
213
CHAPTER 9 The Possible Fallibility of Even a Strong Consensus
215
Index
395
About the Author
411
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Claire L. Parkinson is a senior fellow and climatologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where she has worked for more than 30 years. An award-winning scientist, she is especially well known for her research on polar sea ice and its connections to the broader climate system, which is complemented by her role as Project Scientist for the Aqua satellite mission. She is the author of several books, including Earth from Above: Using Color-Coded Satellite Images to Examine the Global Environment and Our Changing Planet: The View from Space. She lives in the Washington, DC, area.

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