Global Warming For Beginners

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Steerforth Press, Dec 30, 2008 - Nature - 144 pages
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The science is in: Global warming is for real. But what does it all really mean, and what can or should we do about it? This clear, fluid narrative by a leading scientist and educator takes a scrupulously balanced approach in explaining for the reader the history of global climate monitoring and change, and the who’s, how’s, what’s, when’s, where’s and why’s of the interaction between human activity and recent trends in the Earth’s climate.
Global Warming For Beginners is organized into five compelling sections:
Global Warming, An Introduction
The Cause
The Consequences
The Solutions
What Steps Can I Take?

Working from the premise that no one can do everything but everyone can do something, Goodwin challenges readers with experiments they can conduct to gain a better understanding of the science underlying the problems facing our planet, and concludes with a list of fifty easy actions people can choose from to start doing their part in the effort to slow or stop global warming.

As with all For Beginners titles, this volume is illustrated throughout with entertaining drawings that help readers understand and retain the information in Goodwin’s lively and comprehensive text.

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Global warming is a very important subject in the present day. This book attempts to explain how and why Earth’s climate interacts with the atmosphere.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) is a group of several hundred climate scientists from all over the world. Their job is to look at the scientific data on various aspects of climate change. In their latest report, in 2007, they concluded that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal. . . many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes. . . global greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities have grown since preindustrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004.”
Earth has experienced warming and cooling cycles in the past, and some people think that this is just another of those warming cycles, and not really a cause for concern. Most sunlight is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, while the rest is reflected back into space. Water vapor, methane and carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere, are very good at absorbing infrared radiation. Some global warming is needed to keep Earth from turning into a giant ice cube. But too much of a good thing is bad. To get an idea of what happens with high levels of carbon dioxide, look at the planet Venus, with its runaway greenhouse effect.
The rapidly rising amount of burning fossil fuels leads to more carbon in the atmosphere. It has a positive feedback effect, raising the Earth's temperature. Deforestation that is happening all over the world reduces the level of photosynthesis which reduces the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere. If the forest has been burned, which is usually the case, then the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere rises, and the amount of carbon removed by photosynthesis drops.
The book also looks at the consequences of global warming; we are witnessing some of the hottest years on record; snow cover on mountain rages is decreasing; as ice melts, it raises sea levels worldwide; ocean currents could change; biodiversity and ocean currents could be affected. It also lists simple things that anyone can do to help reduce the effects of global warming.
This book is easy to read, and tries to adopt a “facts only” approach. To get away from the hype on both sides of the issue, start right here.

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About the author (2008)

Dean Goodwin, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Center for Inquiry-Based Education. He is also director of Marine and Environmental education and teaches at Christchurch School in Virginia. Dr. Goodwin is a nationally recognized environmental educator with an honors degree in biochemistry, a post-graduate certificate in science education, and a Ph.D. in mechanistic organic photochemistry. He has more than 25 years teaching experience at both the college and secondary level.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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