Is the Temperature Rising?: The Uncertain Science of Global Warming

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Princeton University Press, 1998 - Science - 262 pages
2 Reviews

Most of us have heard the dire predictions about global warming. Some experts insist that warming has already started, and they warn of such impending disasters as the sea level rising to flood coastal cities. Others, however, have issued loud counterclaims, assuring us that global warming is a myth based on misleading data. How can we tell who is right, and how we should respond? And why is there no scientific consensus on a matter of such vital importance? George Philander addresses these questions in this book, as he guides the nonscientific reader through new ideas about the remarkable and intricate factors that determine the world's climate.


In simple, nontechnical language, Philander describes how the interplay between familiar yet endlessly fascinating phenomena--winds and clouds, light and air, land and sea--maintains climates that permit a glorious diversity of fauna and flora to flourish on Earth. That interplay also creates such potent weather disrupters as El Niņo and La Niņa, translates modest fluctuations in sunlight into global climate changes as dramatic as the Ice Age, and determines the Earth's response to the gases we are discharging into the atmosphere, such as those that led to the ozone hole over Antarctica and those that are likely to cause global warming. In his discussion of these matters, Philander emphasizes that our planet is so complex that the scientific results will always have uncertainties. To continue to defer action on environmental problems, on the grounds that more accurate scientific results will soon be available, could lead to a crisis. To make wise decisions, it will help if the public is familiar with the geosciences, which explore the processes that make ours a habitable planet.


The book is an excellent introduction to the basics of the Earth's climate and weather, and will be an important contribution to the debate about climate change and the relationship between scientific knowledge and public affairs.

 

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User Review  - yapete - LibraryThing

Explains clearly where the uncertainties in the science of Global Warming are coming from. On the way gives an admirable introduction to how our climate works. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

S. George Philander, Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University and Research Director of ACCESS (African Centre for Climate and Earth System Science) in Cape Town, South Africa, has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Cape Town and a Ph.D. (Applied Mathematics) from Harvard University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Philander's research interests include the oceanic circulation, interactions between the ocean and atmosphere that result in phenomena such as El Nino and La Nina, paleoclimates (including the recurrent Ice Ages of the past three million years), and future global climate changes. His two books for laypersons, Is the Temperature Rising? The Uncertain Science of Global Warming and Our Affair With El Nino: How We Transformed an Enchanting Peruvian Current Into a Global Climate Hazard, reflect his keen interest in improving communications between scientists and laymen. The goal of the African climate center, which Dr. Philander is currently directing, is to give Africa its own voice on environmental issues such as global warming.

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